At the end of January, SAP and the Global Female Leaders convened the first Networking Event to connect women leaders from across industries, to start a dialogue, exchange ideas, challenge the status quo, and define the future of the digital economy.
Around 45 women and men came to the SAP Leonardo Center at Hudson Yards in New York City, despite the sudden gust of snow. They became part of an outstanding global network determined to share a commitment to make a positive impact in difficult times in line with this year’s Global Female Leaders summit motto “Collaborating to Build a Better World”!
Within a relaxed atmosphere, the networking event started with an opening by the hosts, followed by two inspiring talks by Global Female Leaders Speakers.
Diversity fuels innovation at SAP, and our rich mix of perspectives enhances our engagement with our customers and helps drive business success in a rapidly changing digital world. By partnering with Global Female Leaders, the ultimate platform connecting women from around the world to discuss global challenges, trends and technologies, we’re building a community that shares the commitment to make a positive impact in the world.
Lauren Simmons inspired the audience with her story of becoming the youngest female full-time trader on the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the second woman of colour in this job. She succeeded in this male-dominated environment and continues to follow her path, even under challenging conditions. While studying Genetics at the Kennesaw State University in Georgia, she realized that it was not her true calling. Following her gut, she made a bold move to New York City, arriving without a job or a clear career direction. Armed with a “won’t-take-no-for-an-answer” attitude, she fearlessly went out for interviews across a broad spectrum of jobs, before getting her first break – the opportunity to apply as a trader at the NYSE.
During her time on the NYSE floor, she was often asked, how it felt to be a woman of colour in this job. She always answered: “I have been a woman and a woman of colour my whole life. Why should I feel different now?”
The audience was impressed that Lauren does not think about her gender or age at all. She is focusing on her job and performing at her best. She encouraged all the participants to see past our perceived barriers, to step out of our comfort zones and to be fearless!
When you’ve got a big challenge on your plate, just get started!
Saskia Steinacker was named Head of Digital Transformation in February 2017. In this capacity, she leads Bayer’s digital transformation in close collaboration with the Board of Management. Together with the divisions and functions, she developed the company’s Digital Agenda with a focus on new business models to accelerate new growth.
When Saskia started her job, she assumed she would have time to survey the current situation and run an analysis, before having to make a concrete plan – but it didn’t work out that way. Due to corporate planning cycles, she was given just fifteen days to prepare and present a concept to the Board of Management. “I did not really know what to do and how I could manage it”, Saskia recalled. Fortunately, her mentor, a female board member of Bayer, brought her back to reality.
Rather than sympathizing with Saskia’s tough situation, she advised her to not to invest her valuable time in worrying, but rather in collecting the right information and putting together the best concept possible in the timeframe. It was the motivational push that Saskia needed, and she refocused and gave it her best. In the end, it worked out successfully. It was a learning that she will never forget.
Nowadays, she has learned to care about the business goal she is aiming for, not worrying about whether her gender or age makes her stand out. In her role as a mentor, she always recommends the following: “Stay fearless and be confident with yourself!”
Just go for it!
Both Lauren and Saskia gave interesting talks – and although their topics were very different, the key messages were very much in harmony: do not doubt yourself, be fearless and just go for it! The time of application and preparation for both was full of self-doubt, but in the end, they did not allow fear to stop them from reaching their goals.
Inspired by the message from impressive women, the audience continued the discussion during the networking while mingling with other forward thinking peers and enjoying the amazing view of the illuminated Manhattan.