Each March, International Women’s Day is commemorated on 8 March, an apt moment to reflect on women’s participation in the technology sector. According to Forbes, women currently hold only 26.7% of tech-related jobs, and similarly, technology firms with more than 10,000 employees report women’s representation at 26.2%. Multinational software company SAP (NYSE: SAP SE) is committed to equip women to reach their full potential through Three Zeros Commitment, one of which is Zero Inequality.
This year, SAP was included in the 2023 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) and have won 42 awards globally for its diversity, equality, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts. In Malaysia, SAP’s workforce is represented by 45% women, with 55% being in leadership positions.
“It is imperative to create a positive environment that maintains equality and equity which SAP embraces to create opportunity for women to grow. I am confident this year International Women’s Day can thrust this importance much further,” said Saqib Sahab, Managing Director of SAP Malaysia.
These efforts were also seen positively throughout SAP Malaysia, especially from the perspectives of its women leaders: Helen Selvanathan, Sin Ting Lim, and Fiza Ismail who were able to build their careers within one of the world’s largest enterprise solutions providers. As part of this month’s celebration of International Women’s Day, they share their experience as women in technology.
Helen Selvanathan: Purpose to Succeed
Helen have had 25 years of experience in the IT world. She joined SAP Asia Pacific & Japan in 2017. Having experiences in various role, she has demonstrated successful initiatives across Asia Pacific, Japan & Greater China during her tenure prior to SAP. She is currently leading the SAP Business Women Network (BWN) SEA and driving impact through external engagement, showcasing SAP as diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) leader. Outside of SAP, Helen likes to participate in external women development initiatives through NGOs and volunteers for impacted communities.
As a leader in SAP, she finds challenges in getting everyone to take ownership of their responsibilities. Then, she admitted that seeing the big picture beyond daily task can at times prove challenging. However, she began to understand that everyone has their own minds and perspectives and tackles this by establishing an open communication.
Helen has developed her confidence through immersing herself within the SAP and technology community by taking opportunities as speakers and moderators for both internal and external events. Helen shares her keys for success, “Set a purpose for what we can do passionately. Also, be persistent and persevere to support teamwork. And finally, stay patient for success to follow.”
Helen advised women who are currently pursuing career success to take ownership in their actions and responsibilities. This will help in the continuous self-improvement.
Fiza Ismail: Knowledge to Succeed
Fiza Ismail is the Public Sector and Enterprise (PS & Ent) Account Lead in SAP Malaysia. Like many others, she is part of the ‘boomerang’ community whereby when one having left SAP, one would likely find themselves rejoining SAP years later. With her eighteen years of experience in the industry, she became knowledgeable with the Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Brunei markets. Outside of SAP, she likes to engage herself in charities.
The biggest challenge that she has faced so far was in bringing together the team to achieve common goals. “I believe that confidence is really important as a leader. If you want to grow in your career, you will need to learn and do mistakes. The key part is not to repeat the same mistake again,” she advised. She also added that thinking logically and strategically during the planning phase is key to success.
“My advice would be, to think logically, you must always see 2-3 steps ahead and most importantly not be afraid,” Fiza confirmed.
Sin Ting Lim: Learn to Succeed
Sin Ting is the Key Account Executive for SAP Malaysia and regards her strongest point being communications. Before she joined SAP through SAP Sales Academy, she had four years of experience in business banking. Sin Ting believes in always walking the extra mile throughout her ventures. This was acknowledged when she was recognized as ‘the Southeast Asia Rookie of The Year 2022’. Outside of SAP, Sin Ting likes to learn more about the technology industry to understand better of her role.
Although the Tech industry is dominated by men, Sin Ting did not feel the same sentiment. By putting the perspective that everyone holds the same responsibilities, Sin Ting established her confidence. However, she noted that it is important for women to create leverage on the strength of empathy and being meticulous.
Having the mindset of ‘glass half full’ can help to seek possibilities to make opportunities happen. Of course, not every opportunity is successful – there will be failures and success altogether. This is where the skill of perseverance and commitment is being tested. “It is not over until it is over,” she said. At her end, Sin Ting offers some advice on expressing the result of actionable item through credibility and visibility.
Helen, Fiza, and Sin Ting have talked about their own formulas in building their success with their own set of hurdles. For them, gaining confidence can be achieved through multiple opportunities and challenges that they have overcame. This is how they can climb into making their own success: persevering and making use of the inclusive SAP environment.
While each employee is encouraged to work in harmony with their own color, SAP lets everyone become their best individual self. Not only that, but SAP has made the effort to keep track with the D&EI through establishing employee benefits and learning tools, such as SAP BWN, SAP Next Gen4All, SAP University Alliance. These efforts have yielded positive results within the environment – creating the SAP family into an inclusive and harmonious community.