The SAP Global Volunteer Ambassador program puts SAP’s purpose into action. Volunteer Ambassadors (VAs) lead impactful and inclusive volunteer experiences in the communities they live and work. Meet the long-standing VA Stephen Young from the Newtown Square Office, who played an integral part in implementing and naming SAP’s global employee engagement platform SAP Together. Have you ever wondered how the name SAP Together came about? It is the result of Stephen’s passion to support his local community through volunteering work - together. Our colleague Maximilian Herrmann from SAP’s Global CSR Team had the chance to catch-up with Stephen and ask him about his journey from participating in private volunteer events to organizing big events for the entire GPO department.
Max: Hi Stephen, thank you for your time. Can you tell our readers about how and when you first got in touch with volunteering?
Stephen: In my private life I have always been involved, from donating blood to serving food to homeless people or cleaning public parks, there has always been a lot to do. I personally feel a strong need to get involved in my community. I just can't stand by and watch other people suffering. When I see something that needs to be done, I go ahead and take action so that, for example, the children have a clean park where they can play after school.
Within the corporate framework, I started out with a limited contract at SAP, so I wasn't able to become a Volunteer Ambassador. However, in consultation with my manager, I took part in various events at that time. Since 2016, right after I was hired as full-time employee, I immediately took the opportunity and became a Volunteer Ambassador. I really appreciate that it is possible for all employees at SAP to take time, go out and volunteer for whatever interests them. It gives me the feeling that I'm coming to work, giving my best and know, that at the other end I can take my time and give something back to others.
At SAP, employees have the opportunity to experience a different role in a different team for a temporary period lasting anywhere from four weeks up to one year. It is called the SAP Fellowship Program. You have also worked as Fellow at Global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and actively participated in the implementation of our employee engagement platform, SAP Together. Why exactly did you choose this fellowship back then?
My academic background is in sociology and throughout my life I want to help other people reach their full potential. Personally, I value it when I see that other people are successful with what they do. When I saw this Fellowship within the CSR Team, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make a difference. It really fitted on many levels. The purpose and motivation of the CSR department at SAP and the goal of the fellowship - implementing a global volunteering platform - were crucial for me to apply. It was the perfect match for me and I'm glad it turned out so well.
What was the mindset that characterized the team back then? After all, you were breaking new ground and were pioneers in this field.
Yes, other countries and regions have very different approaches, but the goal was to provide a single platform for the entire company and across all regions. The mindset was accordingly, we were all super motivated and all pulled together. The platform - SAP Together - is, so to speak, the entry point into the world of volunteering for SAP employees. This makes volunteering easier for everyone, for the CSR team, for NGOs and for all employees. For example, there is higher visibility and transparency of all activities and even the time reporting is integrated. So, all in all a great project and - of course - a necessary one.
Has SAP Together become an integral part of your work as a volunteer ambassador?
Yes, everything is easier because you just fill in the information, create events and wait for interested people to click on them. Especially in my case at Global Procurement (GPO), we need a tool where we can quickly create and organize team events. Now, we have this tool.
So, your events are mostly for your GPO team members or open to all colleagues?
Lately, they were only for GPO - so generally for about 200 employees worldwide. However, in my office location, Newtown Square, there are about 30, so mostly I organize events for them.
Okay and I guess you don't have any problems motivating your colleagues?
Oh no, whenever I offer something, the slots are always booked very quickly.
How do you advertise your events?
Before I put the event online on SAP Together, I notify everyone that I will upload something. This serves me as a kind of small pulse check to find out how the colleagues are available or if there is any interest. However, I create the event independently, because I think that there will always be people who would like to volunteer. After that I send the registration link to my colleagues. And then it's done.
How many events have you already organized this year?
This year there have only been two so far, but my colleague Rachel and I are in the process of organizing a big global GPO event, where literally everyone can participate. So, no matter where your office location is or if you work from home, it doesn't matter. Keep your eyes open for this.
Imagine I want to create my first event. What tip would you give me?
Provide as much information as possible. Don't limit yourself to the minimum. If the non-profit organization has some additional information about the event, share it. From my point of view there is no over-sharing and it is even preferred. Make sure to not only explain the actual task, but the impact that will be created! This is what happens when we do the event and that's the outcome if we don't do it.
Thanks, Stephen! You shared some great insights.
This blogpost is part of a series of volunteer spotlights.