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With a dynamic ecosystem of five major anglophone and francophone universities, Montreal is one of the most vigorous environments for students in North-America. That’s why, in 2015, a group of passionate SAP Montreal employees started the University Committee, with a goal of building bridges between SAP and local university talent.

In hopes of increasing SAP’s brand awareness in Montreal’s university communities, the university committee wants students to know about the innovative projects emerging from Labs Montreal. The focus is not only to highlight SAP technologies and strategies, but also to show how SAP helps companies run simple in the digital economy through digital transformation. Over the past year, the committee, made up of Alain Tager, Patrick Mascary, Jean-Francois Leblay, Fernando Hernandez, Michel Martin, Joel Tran and Mario Zyman, have organized presentations at universities, hosted office tours for students, interacted with students at sponsorship events to promote SAP technologies, and engaged with the startup community.

SAP in the Classroom

The committee organized interactive lectures and engaging activities to showcase the best and brightest of SAP. Presentations were given at the universities on topics ranging from HANA, CAR, software support, Design Thinking and customer engagement commerce. More than a hundred students from Concordia discovered SAP’s Strategy for Development Support through a presentation given by Jorge Flores, VP SE IMS Canada. Bernd Lehnert and Mark Michaud expanded on SAP HANA, retail case studies and architecture at Polytechnique, McGill and Concordia. Violette Dessureault-Hatmaker gave two lectures on Design Thinking to students at Concordia John Molson School of Business. Rainer Wellige, SAP’s CEC VP, delivered a presentation on omni-channel commerce to Concordia EMBA students.


In order for students to live the SAP experience firsthand, the committee organized tours for students to visit the dynamic office space, to teach them about SAP Montreal and to introduce them to the teams. During an event organized in conjunction with McGill's Electrical, Computer, and Software Engineering Student Society (ECSESS), 20 McGill students received the opportunity to visit our Labs. The students learned about SAP software and technologies, and discovered why SAP is a top-ranked company. As a result of the committee’s hard work, McGill and Polytechnique will now include HANA and CAR in their database course with 60 students in enrollment.

The committee sponsored various event at universities including the ECCC (Engineering and Commerce Case Competition), the thirty-fourth international Symposium on Reliable Distributed Systems, and a conference held at McGill which focused on reliability and fault tolerance.


The icing on the cake was the committee’s participation as a gold sponsor for a university hackathon at Concordia (ConUHacks).With almost 400 attendees from 29 universities, 18 volunteers from both the original SAP Montreal office and the the newly acquired SAP Hyrbis location combined forces to bring expertise on SAP and Hybris technologies, allowing them to spotlight SAP and its innovative products like Hybris-as-a-Service (YaaS). Students were asked to use YaaS as their API platform for the workshop and worked with SAP developers. The workshop was a great success as both offices collaborated together. The students were not the only ones to benefit from the workshop; SAP employees also learned from the experience as it showcased how the applications can be used. These findings fueled ideas on how to broaden the product for market.

Supporting Start-Ups

Another important part of the University Committee’s work is their ongoing collaboration with District 3, Concordia’s startup incubator and innovation center. SAP conducted a couple of Design Thinking workshops and Design Talks at District 3. Christian Stark and Simon Stolz of SAP’s Design Whizzes - a grassroots initiative to raise awareness of the importance of user experience design – delivered a talk centered on the importance of good design for startups. SAP worked closely with District 3 for the Ken-ya Innovate Challenge, a startup competition where winners get to fly to Nairobi to test their prototype. Ruturaj Mody from Design Whizz delivered the keynote presentation on the topic innovation through design.

For 2016, several events are planned, and the committee’s work will be intensified with new ideas emerging. The University Committee intends to engage with the MBA student community, do more sponsorship and focus on women in technology. For the future, SAP’s philosophy to leave complexity behind and Run Simple will ensure to give SAP strategic positioning within the student community.

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