“We never had a woman as project manager because we all have to travel frequently to construction sites. It is a very exhausting job and will be difficult for you”, her former supervisor told her when she asked about advancing her job from sales support to project management. The words still echo in Lin’s head, and so do the indignation and disbelief that such gender-bias and sexism are still prevalent in the workplace. “Even though I understood that in my home country China, women are typically discriminated in senior roles in traditional companies, I did not expect that in Germany, where gender equality was better promoted.” Being judged by her gender, and not by her performance, was a shock – and a turning point for the 33-year-old.
Thrilled by SAP’s digital skills initiative
Lin, who came to study business in Germany some years ago, worked for almost two years as a sales support associate in that manufacturing company, before she decided to pivot into project management and asked for guidance from her supervisor. “But after that talk, I saw no hope,” she recounts. “I felt so frustrated, disappointed, and helpless.” After all, Lin already travelled overseas for work, visited construction sites in Africa and Asia and knew what challenging conditions she would be in for (“Some construction sites don’t even have restrooms for women as they are not considered necessary”). So, she opted for the only way out: a new career.
Lin now works as an SAP Consultant.“I observed that in our IT department we had many talented female managers,” Lin explains, “so I reached out to one of our SAP inhouse consultants. She warmly welcomed me and showed me what she was doing – I was instantly intrigued!” When Lin did more research on the topic, she quickly stumbled upon SAP’s digital skills initiative, where SAP gives away 10,000 free certification vouchers and provides free learning resources to upskill. “I was excited to find out SAP actively supports underrepresented groups and believed it was a perfect opportunity for me to accelerate my career transition.”
SAP Certification opened doors to job interviews and offers
Lin signed up for the initiative and starting learning for free on the SAP Learning site, while simultaneously sharing her story on a Chinese app to motivate others. “After a few months of self-learning, I successfully passed the certification exam thanks to the free attempt from the initiative!” And did the certification help Lin switch careers? “It did help me”, she happily reports. “It indeed opened new doors and helped me get noticed by recruiters. I got several interviews from major SAP consulting firms shortly after handing in my application. In the interviews, I highlighted what I learned and expressed my confidence in accepting challenges for rolling out SAP S/4HANA. In the end, I got an offer and gladly started a junior role at a consulting firm which actively implements SAP S/4HANA projects.”
Now, a couple of months after switching careers, and a promotion later, Lin says she feels grateful. “My new team and supervisor are extremely supportive, and I am still constantly learning new SAP skills. I feel more positive and confident than ever, not only professionally but also personally, because my efforts are seen, my ideas are heard, and my contributions are recognized.” It is with the greatest joy that Lin now embraces her future in Germany, instead of with gender bias and lack of support.
In the spirit of female empowerment, Lin has an important message to share too: “I want to encourage all girls who fear that it is too late for them to change careers. Do not be afraid! It is never too late!” Her wish for the upcoming months and years is clear: “I want to be part of the generation that brings SAP to the cloud. This is my story, my vision, and my career goal, to grow with SAP, and to help others along this new journey.”
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