Jairo Fernandez is Senior Vice President, Human Resources, SAP Asia Pacific and Japan since 2013 and was VP of Human Resources for SAP Latin America since 2009. Fernandez was named 50 Most Innovative Global HR Tech Leaders by World HRD Congress, top 30 HR professional in Southeast Asia by Human Resources Director Magazine in 2016 and has received the coveted HR Professional of the Year award by Human Resources Magazine.
He spoke to People Matters on Talent Attraction, Leadership and Diversity.
On the one hand, according to a recent World Bank report more than five million jobs will be lost in the coming years. On the other hand, for most companies, there is a very big challenge of finding the right talent. How does one reconcile these facts and what is SAP’s strategy?
As a business leader, one needs to be clear on what are the skills they need for the future, and then look for the right hire. It is equally important to then provide the talent with an environment so that they do not become part of the five million statistic. That is why we run very robust programs to transform SAP into an enterprise of choice. The focus of our team is always on the talent that is already inside the organization, while reaching out to the right talent communities, and be creative in that regard.
What are some of these talent communities that you target?
We have recently launched the “Back-to-Work” program for women on a career break. They are initially given temporary projects, provided support, mentorship and training to succeed in their roles. Last week when I was interacting with some of the women who had joined as part of this program, they told me that what makes SAP a great place for them is the fact that it provides them with an opportunity which was hard to find, and also invests in their own performance. Of course, the program also ties well with our focus on gender diversity.
Tell us more about your diversity programs…
Diversity and Inclusion is an important part of our HR strategy. Our client base is very diverse in terms of gender, nationality, culture, and beliefs, hence it makes sense for our teams to be diverse as well. More so, there is a scarcity of good talent and broadening our horizons when looking for talent makes business sense. Our aim is to eliminate all forms of bias against women otherwise I feel they end up working with one hand tied to their back. We are also closely observing trends with regards to generational intelligence, as 60% of our workforce will soon be comprised of millennials.
The APAC region that you cater to is growing very fast. How does SAP ensure that its people are growing in their leadership potential as well?
This is definitely a challenge. Due to the high growth in business, organizations sometimes make the mistake of giving leadership roles to people too soon- even before they are prepared to take it on. At SAP, we have conceptualized leadership development programs that are mandatory for all aspiring leaders. In addition, there are programs catered to different levels of leaders in the organization. However, we also understand that a lot of leadership development happens informally. So, people have clearly agreed-upon development goals in their system that are objective and trackable.
And how does one track performance on those goals?
Instead of a traditional performance management system, we have moved to a system of continuous dialog between managers and employees. The goal is continuous improvement. We try to train our managers in a way such that most of these conversations focus on developing team members to perform their best. The focus is not on the past, but on the future.