LEADING FROM THE HEART TO MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE
The BOSS Magazine|July 2020
LEADING FROM THE HEART TO MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE
As COVID-19 vexes the world, SAP is helping its employees and customers lean into change
In early March, SAP North America’s President DJ Paoni began what has become his biggest leadership test since joining what was then an emerging technology company in the 1990s. Global COVID-19 numbers were spiking exponentially, leaving everything from the Dow Jones Industrial Average to hand sanitizer supplies reeling in its wake. Global supply chains once praised for their efficiency and scale broke down as the pandemic left factories shuttered. As any business leader reading this knows, the crisis isn’t a time for idling. Effective change leadership requires triage. In charge of the largest region for a company that touches close to 80% of the world’s transactions, Paoni established two clear priorities early on that have since served as SAP’s ‘North Star’ and a lesson for other leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic: ensure the wellbeing of the company’s 25,000 employees in North America and the resiliency of its nearly 440,000 customers.

Steering employees through disruption

Given how quickly the virus’ impact has evolved, the global health pandemic has brought new meaning to scenario planning for Paoni. “Consider the very early days of COVID-19,” he said, “virtually little was known about the pandemic and how far it might spread. But uncertainty isn’t an excuse for inaction. We ran through scenario after scenario trying to confidently map how we could leverage our IT infrastructure and years of investment in innovation to enable SAP employees to transition to remote work virtually overnight.”

SAP has a well-established crisis team dedicated to supporting colleagues and customers through unforeseen business disruptions. The crisis team immediately established a specialized pandemic task force of employees and advisors from facilities management, IT, communications, the medical field, finance, and business operations—all equipped and trained to lead an effective response. “We absolutely wouldn’t have been in the position we were in to effectively respond if it hadn’t been for preparation,” Paoni said. “A crisis response plan isn’t something buried in a drawer collecting dust, and the beginning of a crisis certainly isn’t the time to wish you had thought about a response plan earlier.”

articleRead

You can read up to 3 premium stories before you subscribe to Magzter GOLD

Log in, if you are already a subscriber

GoldLogo

Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories, newspapers and 5,000+ magazines

READ THE ENTIRE ISSUE

July 2020