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Article originally authored by Sarah Harvey, Corporate Affairs Specialist, SAP.

They’re future innovators, customers, and partners and – not least – the next generation of leaders within SAP. Our roving millennial reporter explains why SAP is so keen to attract the very best of this irrepressible group of IT professionals.

In the past year SAP has expanded its commitment to the next generation of young, early talent. From op-eds penned by Bill McDermott, to young innovators taking the stage at SAPPHIRE, the message has never been stronger: SAP is the company for youth.

But many employees are asking: why youth, and why now?

The concerns are understandable. I am a member of the “millennial” generation, born between 1982 and 2000. We have been stereotyped as lazy, unemployed, social media addicts. We are also young, and simply don’t have the experience of our colleagues. Why should SAP focus on us?

The answer is simple: this generation is driving innovation and economic growth. Millennials are increasingly becoming SAP’s end users, and as digital natives we can provide unique insight into changing consumer and mobile trends. As future innovators and business leaders, we are also potential future customers and partners. Finally, as early talent for the company, we are the next generation of leaders within SAP – and SAP should attract the very best among us.

This belief holds strong across the company. At SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, Global Corporate Affairs worked with the HR Early Talent Team, University Alliances, and Corporate Social Responsibility to put together an influencer program designed to engage and inspire millennials around topics like entrepreneurship, education, social responsibility, sports, healthcare, and the future of work.

This included insight from young influencers like Jacob Morgan, who keynoted the Future of Work Forum. Jacob left his job when he realized the “drone work” and commute were not what he had signed up for. Now a consultant and author of The Collaborative Organization, Jacob said he’s seeing a complete reversal of who is deciding how work gets done and dramatic shifts in how organizations are structured and managed. Millennials are helping businesses run better.

Today’s youth are also reimagining marketplace structure, entrepreneurship, and access to education. Other SAPPHIRE attendees included Tammy Tibbetts, the founder of She’s the First, which sponsors girls’ education in developing countries; Miles Bird, the director of a global organization for entrepreneurs under 25; and teenage reporters from the GENYOUth foundation, who interviewed SAP executives and influencers to the delight of many. It was an impressive group that demonstrated how young people are stepping up as leaders and innovators.

Still, the diversity of talent across SAP is essential, and young employees would not grow or succeed without talented colleagues of all ages. As my fellow SAP millennial Amira Polack wrote, “The next generation envisions and is taking action toward a brighter, more inclusive future.” SAP is right to embrace that future and the young employees, customers, and partners who will shape it.

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