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The Global Partner Ecosystem Success Interns were once again lucky enough to be joined for another rendition of the Career Journey Series… with a slight curve ball! Hosted by the gracious Shona Sullivan, diversity & inclusion lead within the organization, and catalyst pool owner, this session the Catalysts took over and brought us along on a journey, not only through their career but also their life. They led us to where they are today and shared with us some advice, they received that has stuck with them a long the way.

“There is no textbook to get you where you want to be, just have to have courage…” – Fiona Monne

Meet the Catalysts

The Early Talents were lucky enough to meet with three colleagues from the Catalyst program, Andrew Graham, Sharmila Jasmath and Edel Phillips.

A Catalyst is an employee whose contribution and ability to learn is outstanding. They are nominated by their manager to participate in the Catalyst development program. The program provides those nominated with targeted opportunities in line with their aspirations and strategic priorities, designed to increase their readiness to fulfill future critical roles in strategic business areas.

Andrew is the senior director of Partner Business development as part of the Partner Success Services team within the Customer Success Services organization. He is located just West of Philadelphia, based in the Newtown Square office. Andrew has recently celebrated 25 years within the company!

Sharmila, who is based in Johannesburg, South Africa has been apart of the SAP family for 8 years and apart of the ecosystem for 25 years. Sharmila is a Partner development manager for all partners in Africa.

Lastly, we have Edel. Based in Galway in the West of Ireland, Edel has been working within SAP for an impressive 14 years. Edel is our Learning & Development lead as part of the People & Performance team within the Partner Ecosystem Success organization. She specializes in the digital learning programs such as SAP Black Belt.

The Journeys

“Careers don’t have to be Linear…” – Shona Sullivan

Even though each Catalyst gave their own personal and unique account of their career journey to date, a clear core message was prevalent through-out. As highlighted by Shona, “Careers don’t have to be linear”. Like previous sessions in this series, this session reinstated the fact that careers aren’t a straight line journey and there is many different paths you can take to get to where you want to be.

Andrew Graham did not start off in the world of tech. As a young boy he had a keen interest in the weather, from measuring the temperature and wind direction, he referred to himself as a weather nerd at a young age. It was this passion that influenced his decision in completing a degree in meteorology. After a discussion with his guidance counselor, and completing a couple math’s courses he also obtained a degree in mathematics.

After graduating college and perusing his dream of working in the weather industry, he quickly realized it was not for him which led him to return to education, to complete a degree in actuarial science. Pivoting his career to overcome the challenges associated with actuarial science led him to exploring the world of consulting, which led him working at SAP. Now working in partner business development, Andrew’s story is a testimony that sometimes you will not find the thing you love to do right away, you might need to go back and visit avenues before you find where you belong!

Sharmila Jasmath resonated with Andrew’s journey, and how she too also had to pivot her career to overcome challenges throughout her journey. Beginning her education she enrolled in a teaching degree in mathematics and geography, Sharmila completed her final year in industrial psychology as she came to the realization teaching was not something she was interested in pursuing.

Sharmila was first introduced to SAP when she graduated university when she began working for an IT company, helping to enable customers, specifically in the retail industry, who were introducing SAP software into their business.

After gaining notable experience working in the area of support, for global company’s such as Accenture, Sharmila eventually found herself working in SAP, in enterprise support. Working in big organization’s such as SAP, Sharmila found there was many opportunities available to progress her career which led her to join the partner organization focusing on area of partner development.

Different to the other two catalysts, at the beginning of her Career, Edel Phillips was very unsure what path she wanted to take. A feeling many of us Early Talents have felt at one point or another. Being the first in her extended family to attend college, Edel had to navigate this new chapter in her life on her own and decided to enroll in a course that was very much in the development phase, in her local college, called “computing”. The course contained a lot of programming and math modules and with math not being a strong point for Edel, she knew after completing it and achieving her certificate, she needed to look at alternative options.

This saw Edel moving to Germany for a summer to take on a placement position in a company called Molex. During one of her rotations, It was then Edel, like Sharmila, was introduced to SAP earlier on in her career where she was appointed an interpreter for an SAP implementation team that were coming over from Ireland.

After returning home, Edel moved to Dublin, where she began working for a company called Maxtor where she worked her way up to become a manager. At that time, she also applied to SAP but without having a degree, was not fortunate enough to be called for interview.

Returning to university, at the age of 29, Edel graduated with a BA in Geography and IT. Exploring the idea of becoming the teacher, due to the recession, Edel decided to steer away from that career path and applied again to SAP where she began working the evening shift.

Like the other catalysts, Edel recognized that with SAP being such a large organization, there was an abundance of opportunities and scope to develop her career. Edel now has had a full circle moment, working as the learning and development lead, as she now is rekindling her passion for learning by growing and developing people’s skills through job-based approaches.

“Your journeys have been so different and yet we have all have fallen under the SAP umbrella, but yet with such diverse backgrounds and such different experiences” – Shona Sullivan


Words of wisdom from our Catalysts

“You need to be more visible… be visible to people outside your team” – Edel Phillips

Early on in her career, Edel was advised to be more visible not only in her own team, but to build up cross functional networks and create connections with people right across the spectrum and in different areas. She believes it has done absolute wonders for her career, her interests and built an awareness of what is going on around her.

“You should see your name on the door” – Sharmila Jasmath 

Reminiscing on the earlier days of her career, Sharmila draws on a piece of advice she gained from her coaches at the time. In essence, the message is about having a growth mindset. For Sharmila, it highlights the fact that your abilities and intelligence can be developed through your dedication, hard work and willingness to learn.

“I think that’s important for every manager that you have, that you need to understand what their wants and needs are and try meet them as directly as you can.”  - Andrew Graham


Graham reflects on challenges he faced starting off in his career. At the time he was working with a manager who was new to a management position. He found it difficult to adjust to their particular management style. Instead of making the decision to leave, like other team members, he made the personal decision to adapt to their managerial style. He began working on how to react, estimating what the manager was going to do next, what they wanted and needed. After overcoming this he began to thrive in the team. This is a true testament that many people face throughout their career. For our Early Talents, it highlights the importance of adaptability and how it will aid you working efficiently with members of your team!


We’d like to thank, Sharmila, Andrew and Edel for joining us and giving such an intuitive look into their career so far. Also, thank you to Shona for being an amazing host and adding even more depth to the conversation. As always, a big thank you to Fiona Monne for coordinating yet another successful session. On behalf of the Early Talents, we are very grateful to hear from our colleagues and providing with such impactful knowledge and advice that I am sure will resonate with us as we develop our own career journeys!

Some feedback from our Catalysts and Early Talents

"Sharing experiences is what creates that human connection. Listening to my colleagues and sharing my experiences made me feel so empowered!" – Sharmila Jasmath

“Career Journey with Partner Mgmt Catalysts was so refreshing. As a driven intern who is always looking for mentors and role models, it was inspiring to hear from all speakers about their unique career journeys. I was able to relate with Sharmila Jasmath who is the Partner Development Manager for all Partners in Africa. It was amazing to see an African be a part of SAP for 8 years and within the ecosystem for a total of 25 years! I look forward to more sessions like this!” – Ehimen Okondo

“As always, I truly enjoyed this Career Journey session. It was intriguing to get an insight into the career journeys of three different colleagues within PES but also show how their journeys, although different, shared similarities as they found their way to where they are today!” – Tomas Cronnelly