Everyone needs a break from work some time. Taking a social sabbatical not only lets you recharge and revitalize, but also provides the kind of experience education that broadens your perspective and stirs your creative juices.
SAP’s Social Sabbatical initiative gives employees an opportunity to contribute their time and talent to help entrepreneurs and small businesses in emerging markets. Small teams of high-potential SAP employees were selected to bring specific expertise in areas such as strategy, marketing, IT, finance, consulting or legal to nonprofit organizations, government agencies or educational institutions to help solve pressing business or organizational issues.
Two participants from APJ kept a photo diary of their experience during their assignment last month in Manila, Philippines where SAP teams worked with social entrepreneurs Hapinoy, Messy Bessy Cleaners, Solar Energy Foundation and Rags2Riches Inc.
Below Sindhu Srinivas & Vineet Panwar share their stories with us.
Twelve of us stood in front of social entrepreneurs, media and SAP Philippines employees and said “thank you” in 10 different languages. It was the culmination of a month long Social Sabbatical journey where I was fortunate to be a part of ManilaTao, an eclectic mix of 12 SAP employees from different countries. We left the daily routine of our jobs to spend a month with a host client in Manila.
I joined Dirk-Jan Sligenberg from Netherlands and Vince Lu from China to form the sub team assigned to Messy Bessy, a manufacturer and wholesaler of natural, biodegradable household cleaners with the primary goal of employing, training and educating disadvantaged (formerly abused, trafficked, out-of-school, impoverished) young adult.
Messy Bessy asked us to look into their supply chain and inventory processes and suggest recommendations so as to improve their operational efficiency. We were able to not only interact with the social entrepreneur, Ms. Krie Lopez , the founder of Messy Bessy and her management team, but also with the young adults working part-time at Messy Bessy.
The courage, determination and the desire of the learners at Messy Bessy to get a college diploma against all odds, was truly heartwarming. The commitment of Krie and her team, their passion and their hospitality truly made our experience special.
We shared about our home countries of India, China and the Netherlands and were pleasantly surprised with their attentiveness and questions. The interactions and bonding within our Manila Tao team was special and we also managed some fun weekend getaways.
We spent Chinese New Year’s eve on a walking food tour of Chinatown which culminated with watching the fireworks over Chinatown at BayLeaf in Intramuros.
It was a truly enriching experience for me. Besides expanding my horizons and re-energizing me, the most positive aspect was meeting and working with an incredible group of talented, driven individuals from all over SAP.
What do 2 American, 2 Irish, 2 German, 2 Indian, 1 Turkish, 1 Chinese, 1 Dutch & 1 Israeli citizens possibly have in common, other than all being high-potential employees at SAP’s various subsidiaries and offices? We are all inspired by SAP’s vision to help the world run better and have a passion to give back to society. I was fortunate to have been a part of this group of highly motivated and talented fellow SAP employees, and to have experienced the most amazing employee development program at SAP together with them.
Equipped with preliminary information and only acquainted with each other over remote calls, I finally met my teammates Priscilla Buckley and Caroline Welsh along with other fellow participants, once we were in Manila. We were assigned to Rags2Riches Inc., a for-profit social enterprise based in Manila, Philippines with a mission to lift Filipino artisans out of poverty by providing skills-based livelihood leading to empowerment and a dignified life.
Our scope of work was to help Rags2Riches with a review of their business expansion plan (especially international wholesale partners and online retail) and provide recommendations around processes and tools that would support the business expansion.
Throughout this journey at Rags2Riches, I witnessed the empowerment and smiles brought to under-privileged artisans by the young Rags2Riches team (in their early to late 20s, and most of them fresh university graduates), driven solely by the passion to lift more Filipinos out of poverty. These inspiring stories are my biggest takeaway, far outweighing any effort I contributed during my time there.
Throughout the project, Priscilla, Caroline and I formed a bond of friendship so strong that the toughest day of the month turned out to be when we had to say goodbye. I could go on forever about the experience, but I will let the reflections of my experience speak for themselves through the eyes of a camera.
We are now back at SAP at our regular jobs. The SAP Social Sabbatical experience has helped us become stronger, embrace more colors (as in skills and experiences) and form strong bonds with colleagues with whom we were together on this amazing journey in Manila (Feb / Mar, 2015). Thank YouSAP for giving us the opportunity to contribute our bit to “Make the World Run Better”.
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