One memorable sabbatical for 11 SAP employees from world over

As part of the SAP Social Sabbatical, a short term assignment, top talents spent a month away from home to solve business challenges for the social entrepreneurial or education sector in emerging markets.

They leveraged their expertise in various areas to guide NGOs such as Bhumi, Hand in Hand, Villgro Innovations Foundation and Arunodhaya. “The experience here has been humbling. Chennai feels like home away from home now,” said Amy Feldman, SAP America employee who heads change management.

Since 2014, German multinational software major SAP has deployed 221 employees from 36 nations, across 71 organisations worldwide as part of the social sabbatical program. “We have been contributing to society through donations and technology engagements. We felt the need to find a way to engage employees and provide skilled engagement in a more sustainable manner,” said Vlasta Dusil, head, HR, SAP India.

The 11 employees were selected after a rigorous process of essay writing, interviews and meetings. “We made sure the needs of the NGOs match with the skills of the employees. This is an opportunity to create a lasting impact while developing leadership, cross-cultural as well as entrepreneurial skills and mindset and we make sure the right person is deployed,” said Gunjan Patel, head CSR, SAP India.

Working on various areas such as project management, data management, HR, marketing and communications, the 11 employees immersed themselves in the NGO activities for four weeks. They spent several days on the field interacting with self-help groups, volunteers, tribals and others.
“We were worried that they may not be able to adjust with local conditions. They surprised us with the ease with which they adjusted, creating an atmosphere of mutual learning and giving us a vision for the next 10-15 years,” said Suganti Priyadarshini from Arunodhaya.
“We had an idea and worked with a timeline. Our focus was to give recommendations that are meaningful, valuable and implementable,” said Viktor who worked with Bhumi on strategic communication plans.
“We had an idea and worked with a timeline. Our focus was to give recommendations that are meaningful, valuable and implementable,” said Viktor who worked with Bhumi on strategic communication plans.
At the end of four weeks, the 11 employees feel like they have learned more than they have shared.

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