On the 15th of October 2021, a group of interns including myself were lucky enough to be joined on call by the Chief Operating Officer of Partner Ecosystem Success, Emer Neville. The session we had was especially interesting and motivational because Emer was an intern once, just like we are now - she had walked in our shoes and it showed us that anything was possible if we worked hard for it.
Emer began her SAP Story as an intern in 2008, while she was a university student doing Media and English. She explained to us that you don't have to come from a technical background to succeed in SAP, which was great to hear considering most of us are studying business! Additionally, she acknowledged that she too struggled understanding all of the acronyms and software in the beginning, which was also reassuring since it can be challenging to grasp as a new intern as SAP. Most of all, it was really encouraging to hear how Emer had started out exactly where we are now.
One of the most rewarding outcomes of being able to join Emer on a call was having the opportunity to ask her questions regarding her journey in SAP. Here are some of our main takeaways from the day, with a few recorded clips from the session.
On Early Decisions
When Emer graduated college, she was offered two positions, one with SAP and one to work in a department of her university. She was slightly apprehensive about joining SAP, as she was an English graduate and SAP was a software company. Understandably she was anxious about starting a new role in a company she hadn’t worked with before (much like we were as interns!).
However, she chose to step outside of her comfort zone and test herself. Emer believes this was the most important decision she made in her early career, since if she would have stayed in her comfort zone, she would not be where she is today
In the following clip, she discusses these decisions in more detail:
On Qualities for Success
According to Emer, curiosity was the most important quality needed. Being curious can unlock all kinds of problems, but in turn resolving these problems helps develop skills that are very useful. Asking many questions helped Emer progress to where she is now. She believes that being curious, constantly asking about things and wanting to learn more is a brilliant quality to have. Of course, Emer had to work extremely hard in her professional career to become a Chief Operating Office, but she also has these qualities to thank for helping her get to where she is today.
“I think sharing a problem is definitely a problem halved, even if you know you can do it, just actually getting your group here together and saying “this is the problem, this is the issue” and getting those inputs - that diversity of thought is so important for me”
On Handling Mistakes
The main point that Emer got across to us in answering this question was that it’s extremely important to communicate with your colleagues around you. There will always be scenarios where you’re just not sure of what to do, and even when you do know what to do, there is still huge value in taking input from the different people you work with. Mistakes are a platform to build on if you reflect on them in the right way, and from Emer’s experiences we can see that she has done this throughout her career.
“Don't be afraid to take it on or make mistakes and share the knowledge. Share your challenges along the way and focus on the big picture as well as the things you do, because that will keep you motivated”
On Fresh Perspectives
Emer reassured us that interns are hugely instrumental and extremely valued in SAP. She believes interns have fresh views, ideas and perspectives which they bring with them when joining the company. From growing up in a world of technology, we have a sense of the newer types of consumers and how to relate to them. It was wonderful to hear that we can help make a difference in SAP, and as students it was extremely motivating to hear that our ideas and viewpoints are as valued as they are.
“I think it's important that you keep us fresh, and you tell us how it really is, and that applies to all of you in all of the projects you're doing. I see all your names and I hear great things about you all!”
See What the Interns Think
The session was incredibly inspiring and we all thoroughly enjoyed it! To echo this sentiment, here are a few testimonials from those of us lucky enough to be a part of this:
“I loved the session with Emer, I thought it was very nice to hear how she got into SAP and her starting off as an intern like us. I thought it was very motivating since she's so successful now. I also really liked how personalized her answers were to questions. Overall, I thought it was a great insight.” – Emma
“After the session with Emer, I left feeling motivated and inspired. It was encouraging to see that she was once where I am today and with hard work and dedication you can achieve a lot working with SAP.” - Sam
“It was an amazing experience to know Emer's journey at SAP. Some of the questions gave us insights into how we can shape our career path in the coming years. Moreover, it gave us a better understanding of how to improve our chances of success from the very beginning.” - Adi
"I found the call with Emer insightful and interesting. Getting the opportunity to listen to such an accomplished woman was so inspiring. It was both calming and reassuring to hear the advice she had for us. It also made me feel valued as an intern as she was very appreciative of the work we've been doing so far." - Lillie