Today, Business Review launches the fourth phase of its established Call For Leaders interview series, titled #Call4Leaders 4.0. The established 3-questions format has been updated, as the interviews will consist of four main questions that will be answered by some of the most important business leaders in Romania, and centered around the main 4 trends of the new reality: resiliency and sustainability, the human-machine balance, organizational agility, and Co-opetition. The first interview of the new series features a top professional who manages an entire region for a market leader in the business software industry, from right here in Bucharest: Josephin Galla, Managing Director for South East Europe & Ukraine (CEE Eastern) at SAP,
What projects have you carried out over the past year to make your company’s operations more sustainable and resilient?
People, Business and Brand are the focus areas of SAP Romania’s leadership team. People are the foundation of our success – therefore we had several projects centered around our people to ensure that our talents feel good about coming to work/ doing the work. First and foremost we chose a great country leader that leads with strength and empathy through one of the most profound challenges we had in the history of the company (pandemic). With Diana David in the lead, we were able to implement a people-centric leadership approach that helps to navigate and strike the balance between virtual and personal workspace settings, mental health, psychological safety in the workspace and resilience under stress. We implemented a parent’s room that gives access to a childproof room for our employees to bring their kids to work in case of an emergency (schools closed, nanny unavailable etc.) – of course under the strict obedience of COVID regulations. We also we converted the office into an open space to facilitate communication amongst team members, but also the leadership. This transformation of the office had a massive positive impact on our team. This impact also translated into renewed energy to work in a still on-premise Software-driven market and drive our transformation towards the cloud. It is our mandate to help our customers to invest into more agile and modern, cloud-based architectures for their IT deployments – so our customers can focus on their people and core business instead of worrying about their IT. This also meant to change our image in the Romanian market from an old fashioned ERP vendor to a state-of-the art technology partner, which I believe we have started strong and will continue in 2022.
How can we find the right balance between intelligent machines and human intelligence in the new business reality of accelerated automation and digitalization?
It starts with the right leaders who are able to identify where automation is essential and where human interference is required. Repetitive tasks started to be automated in the 1960, followed by business process automation in the 1990s. In 2000 we saw the emerge of Digital Transformation which brought not just the reduction of repetitive tasks but the refocus of people towards high-value tasks into the equation. Since then employees have been elevated to focus on outcomes rather than processes. In a time where talent wars are the norm, employers are forced to do more with less, which means that intelligent machines are taking over tasks such as invoice & payment matching, preselection of resumes, warehouse services and so on. That way employees can focus on delivering an excellent customer experience. I believe the digitization of products and services is an imperative whereas the personalization and management of experience will always require human intervention. Technology, no matter how intelligent, is here to serve the purpose of supporting businesses by accessing computing power, processing vast amounts of data and creating actionable insights that can then be used by us to lead out outcome-driven businesses.
Are flatter, more agile structures better equipped to succeed in the new reality than their more traditional and rigid counterparts? How would you describe your organization in this regard?
I believe that most existing structures still do have a place in business, depending on size and business model. Flatarchies can be found a lot within start-up companies, It provides their employees with a lot of autonomy and hence makes the organization very agile. However – having a fitting organizational structure in place (Divisional, Flat, Matrix or Functional = centralized or decentralized) provides its employees with a clear framework and fosters efficiency and clarity about roles and functions across the organization. Large multinationals do need apart from a clear understanding of roles and functions a structure to organize their salary and payroll framework. Not having any formal structure is likely to cause chaos and uncertainty. In general organizational structures have become more fluid over the last decade and the lines have blurred. At SAP every employee has a high level of empowerment and autonomy. In fact, employees can choose to act like entrepreneurs within their area of influence. However, our organizational structure still provides our employees with a good framework that gives them certainty where and whom to report to or where to request support. It is up to the respective leaders what level of management is applied within their respective teams, which makes working for SAP one of the most complex and difficult jobs, but also the most rewarding experience of my professional life.
Is the business world evolving from a mindset of competition to a co-opetition one? How integrated is your company in this regard and what can you tell us about the partnerships you carried out with other organizations?
SAP has always been more of a collaborative company compared to other technology companies. Our software has always worked with open API to be able to integrate other solutions into ours. As a standard software provider, it is absolutely important to allow other solutions to complete the offering to our customers, which is why we have our SAP i.o program. In this program, we bring together leaders from every region, industry, and line of business to transform how businesses run. Since 2017, we’ve helped 330+ external startups and internal ventures accelerate their growth while enabling thousands of SAP customers to access innovation. Our recent launch of RISE shows clearly that we chose to partner up with many Hyperscalers to provide the best value to our customers instead of competing with them, which would distract us from our mission to help customers at their best.