All You Need to Know about HR Management at SAP: Exclusive tête-à-tête with Jairo Fernandez, Senior Vice President-HR, APJ

February 8, 20168:22 am3120 views
All You Need to Know about HR Management at SAP: Exclusive tête-à-tête with Jairo Fernandez, Senior Vice President-HR, APJ
Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion at SAP

The Information Technology giant has always been making headlines for new product innovations, and more so in the recent times – having made it to the top 5 spot, as among the great places to work in Singapore.

Through an exclusive conversation with Jairo Fernandez, Senior Vice President of HR – Asia Pacific and Japan at SAP, HR in ASIA unravels different facets of HR, challenges to creating an innovation-friendly workplace and learning culture; need to create and set new standards, processes and systems; integrate IT with HR to simplify people management; need to nurture talent and groom future leaders; addressing impediments to promote women leadership in Asia and a lot more detailed facts presented for an interesting read here…

How does SAP combat attrition effectively with global war of talent at its peak in the current times?

To combat attrition effectively in the increasingly competitive “war of talent,” we look to our company’s culture. We know what makes our employees tick; we know what will maintain their interest in being a part of the SAP team: a strong company culture and a collaborative work environment.

Hence to retain and recruit new talent, we create and maintain a working environment where employees can have fun while working, enjoy the nature of their work, and see meaning in their contributions.

Furthermore, our organisation depends on innovation for growth and high performance. This in turn depends on employee initiative, risk taking, and trust – all qualities that are nurtured by an organisation’s climate.

Tell us more about the workplace culture at SAP.

We have a diverse and inclusive culture that is critical to making SAP both a great place to work and a successful company. At SAP we believe in constant cultivation of our teams.

We subscribe to the philosophy of a “Learning Culture” where everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner. We have a well-articulated SAP culture in the form of five ‘How We Run’ behaviours that form the basis of our conduct and success.

Which Asia-Pacific market offers women the most opportunities? Do you think women are well-represented to offer leadership roles at SAP?

Across Asia Pacific and Japan, we aim to nurture a diverse and inclusive environment as it is our stern belief that diversity is essential for enabling a culture of innovation, productivity and creativity. With this belief in mind, SAP has made a global goal to increase the number of women in management to 25% in 2017 (up from 18% in 2010).

To ensure that SAP continues to further this aspect of diversity as part of our innovation strategy, SAP promotes women in leadership by offering professional development and mentoring programs; actively retaining women in leadership roles; offering executive sponsorships for women; and, ensuring that at least one diversity candidate is included on the shortlist for leadership positions.

One example of a professional development initiative is LEAP – the Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program. LEAP is a year-long targeted development journey focused on women who have the potential and desire to succeed into people management positions or reach new heights of excellence in people leadership. So far we have around 90 women who are a part of this group.

In Singapore our efforts have been met with great success: 42 percent of our employees and 26 percent of our leaders are women.

What are the recent initiatives taken by the company for better employee engagement?

In Singapore, we have just started the FitSAP initiative. This initiative encourages SAP employees to wear, a wearable fitness device which can be synced to the FitSAP application – an app supported by wearable devices from FitBit, Jawbone, Withings and MiFit.

The application runs on SAP’s analytics platform, the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, an gathers all the data from employees’ wearable devices. Data from individual devices is presented on a dashboard that tracks cumulative steps of all employees, average steps per day, distance covered and participation rate.

In addition, individual employees can also see how many steps they have taken this quarter, and their rankings. Employees who clock an average of 8,000 steps per day for a quarter will earn 100 points in their Flexible Spending Account.

With this initiative we have managed to encourage healthy living, and of course, nurture friendly competition amongst the employees who are trying to rank highest for steps taken per quarter!

What are the efforts made by SAP towards influencing diversity at workplaces?

For SAP, diversity is about leveraging the unique experiences and perspectives of all employees to better understand and serve SAP customers, to drive innovation and to create a work environment wherein all employees are fully and passionately engaged to achieve SAP’s corporate objectives.

We actively promote an environment that values differences in culture, race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and physical ability.

Jairo Fernandez, Senior Vice President of HR - Asia Pacific and Japan at SAP

Jairo Fernandez, Senior Vice President of HR – Asia Pacific and Japan at SAP

One example of how SAP influences diversity at the workplace is through ‘Autism at Work’ initiative. This initiative employs people with autism because we believe their strengths allow them to perform better at certain jobs. The ultimate goal of the program is to have 1% of the company’s total workforce represent people on the autism spectrum by 2020.

See: SAP’s Novel Offering Bridges Gap between Full-Time Employees and External Workers

What are the steps taken by the company to bridge the gender pay parity gap regards equality in payment structure in APJ?

SAP is an equal opportunity employer in every respect and to that extent we rigorously track gender pay parity every year. Managers receive the pay parity analysis report before and after the salary review cycle empowering them to make right informed decisions.

At SAP, pay and rewards are based solely on merit. Our philosophy is to reward and recognize the right talent at the right time, to ensure there is a lasting connection between reward and performance. We put in enormous efforts to make the rewarding mechanism transparent and employees are aware of the criteria.

Further, variable pay is closely linked to individual performance and company’s performance which in turn helps drive the high performance culture and behavior among employees.

SAP Singapore office reception

Reception area at SAP Singapore office

Take us through the HR interview selection and candidate screening process at SAP? What is the quick turnaround time to revert to potential candidates post application?

Our hiring policy is simple: we want the best talent who demonstrates long-term potential – not solely a candidate who has the right set of skills and competencies, but also someone who brings with them the right attitude, values and aspirations.

We have stringent interview selection and candidate screening processes for different levels within the organization. Beyond the role competencies, skills, technical evaluation and people-manager interviews, we place emphasis on recruiting talents whose values and aspirations align with that of SAP.

We believe cultural fit is a crucial ingredient for success in an employee’s career over the long run. Candidates who demonstrate the right potential are carefully handpicked by hiring managers and assessed for cultural fit.

How do you see the emerging HR tech trends boosting the recruiting sphere and facilitating better payroll management?

SAP’s strategy is to help businesses simplify the way they work in order to achieve business outcomes, they never thought possible. With the use of technology for recruiting and payroll management, businesses have an opportunity to simplify their processes and increase their productivity.

As for payroll, businesses can use solutions like SuccessFactor’s Employee Central to streamline and centralize their payroll processes. Solutions such as these provide customers with the benefits and convenience of cloud delivery and the control of implementing and managing payroll in-house.

Work space at SAP Bengaluru office, India

Work space at SAP Bengaluru office, India

What are the people management practices followed at SAP in APAC to motivate and empower employees to be future leaders?

To ensure a steady pipeline of senior leadership, we have in place a robust talent and succession management process, where we identify potential successors to key positions early on in their career and provide them with support, coaching and opportunities to take on additional responsibility beyond their typical scope of work.

SAP is also keen on developing its future leaders by providing a range of structured development programs to allow potential leaders to experience leadership positions.

Developed in Asia Pacific Japan in 2014, the Leadership Framework analyses the lifecycle of a leader at SAP and aims to increase the quality and standards of leadership practices.

It serves as a useful resource for leaders across all levels to seek information on the topics around onboarding, leadership development, goal setting, talent acquisition, succession and promotion as well as performance management.

With HR moving to the cloud, how do you envision the future 2020 and beyond?

The exploding scale of computing, mobile, cloud, business networks and connected technologies is rapidly changing the way we live and work.

In just a few years, the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to have tens of billions of devices connected to one another as well as to cloud-based services – this change will both provide opportunity and cause complexity.

HR teams who successfully navigate the complexity caused by the deluge of data to leverage on the opportunities with a hyper-connected workforce will be the ones rewarded with a stronger bench of talent and a better-managed workforce.

SAP’s SuccessFactors, the leader in cloud-based Human Capital Management, provides cloud solutions that help organizations around the world, run simpler systems as they navigate through the changing dynamics of today’s workforce to embrace the future of work.

SAP labs at Shanghai, China

SAP labs at Shanghai, China

Tell us more about the product integration of SAP with SuccessFactors for HCM cloud?

SAP S/4HANA is the next-generation business suite. The comprehensive offering provides native integration between SAP S/4HANA and other cloud solutions from SAP, including those from SuccessFactors in human resources, Ariba in procurement as well as integration with SAP hybris Marketing, Fieldglass and SAP Jam.

As a result, customers can execute their IT strategy at their own pace, based on their needs, while keeping all the integration and business benefits of their existing SAP solutions. SAP S/4HANA, cloud edition is also designed to easily connect with global business networks.

SAP has the broadest portfolio of business applications in the industry today with a variety of deployment options to meet the needs of each customer. Our strategy is to dramatically simplify IT and business by delivering best-in-class business applications on a single, real-time platform – the HANA Cloud Platform.

Tell us more about the favourable employee leave policies and benefits offered in case of maternity/paternal leave at SAP?

Our SAP employees go through several life milestones in their careers. So we want to make sure that the workplace is as family-oriented as possible. New mothers are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave and fathers are eligible for a week’s paid paternity leave.

But beyond these fundamental pro-family policies, SAP also has a range of family-oriented initiatives. SAP organizes a Kids@Work day where children are invited to the workplace during their school holidays to enjoy movie screenings, arts and sports competition.

This year, we also organised the SAP Beach Fiesta for our Singapore team wherein family and friends of SAP employees were invited to join us for a fun-filled day at Sentosa Beach.

What are the challenges to hiring and talent retention in Japan, since, according to a recent news report, Japan’s Talent Mismatch Ranks the Most Severe in Asia Pacific?

Japan is a tough talent market to crack but hiring and talent retention is a key area of focus not just in Japan but all across the world. Here at SAP, our mission is to identify and acquire the “right” talent that will help drive our company towards greater heights.

To combat issues such as talent mismatch, we strongly believe in identifying the untapped potential of future managers and proactively groom them for their future responsibilities.

By grooming leaders in-house, we not only accelerate the development of our amazing talent and empower them to realize their full potentials, but we also ensure that these leaders are aligned with the company’s strategy.

We have also invested in our graduate hiring across many areas of our business in Japan to grow talent from within the company. This is proving to be a successful strategy to create the bench strength internally to continue to grow our business in Japan.

Congratulating SAP, on being named as one of the top 5 Great Places to Work in Singapore, share with us the key strengths, challenges and strategies implemented by leaders at SAP in people management, towards upgrading skills of workers and thus making it to the top 5 spot?

A career at SAP is based on an interest in life-long learning. We have a remarkably talented base of employees for whom we strive to provide a culture of continuous learning and development. It is our employees who fuel SAP’s innovation and ensure a sustainable future for the company, its customers and society.

This is precisely why SAP invests in and actively encourages talent development through challenging work assignments, collaboration with peers, and attending formalized programs geared at upgrading employees’ skillsets.

One example of this is the SAP Sales Academy program which includes innovative classroom training at SAP’s world-class learning center in California, several months of on-the-job training and mentoring, and skills development in presentation delivery, teamwork and knowledge of SAP solutions.

What is the future of HR industry in Asia Pacific and Japan?

There is no doubt that the HR industry will move from one that is data-driven to one that is fact-driven. But at the core of it all, HR is essentially a people function.

So it is essential to balance the needs of the business with the need to engage your employees at the same time. HR needs not only to be a trusted advisor and partner to the business function, but also serve as promoter of talent across the company.

Also read: SAP Further Simplifies Human Capital Management Cloud

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