When we think about exemplary models of employer branding, SAP is probably one of the first names that spring to mind. In 2017, they have won more than 280 employer awards, including Best Employer Brand at our very own In-house Recruitment Awards. Adam Gordon, CEO and Co-founder of Candidate.ID spoke to Robin Dagostino of SAP’s global employer branding and creative media team to learn about why they win so many awards and what it really takes to generate competitive advantage in the international war for talent in 2019.

I have taken much longer than normal to write this and to be honest, I don’t really know where to start; there is so, so much to cover so I’ll just jump straight in.

Robin tells me it’s easy to showcase the talent at SAP because they employ a “wonderful, happy and very satisfied group of people across the world”. To back this up, the company undertakes regular internal photo and video contests – a day in the life, living the values – and generates no end of participation from people across the company.

I point out it must help that the CEO, Bill McDermott is so charismatic and inspiring (I know he’s a New Yorker but he must be Scottish with a name like that, right?) and has assembled a superb senior team with strong female representation. Robin tells me this is brought to life at the regular ‘Coffee Corner’ sessions where senior management make themselves available for 1:1s with anyone who wants to have a conversation. With great leadership of course, comes great thought leadership and this can be used powerfully in attracting the world’s best talent.

Another dynamic which assists the EB team’s efforts is the new CMO’s intent to make the brand much better known to the public and I’ve personally seen SAP recently in many places you wouldn’t expect from a B2B brand.

Specifically, on to employer branding and as you’d expect, they focus on the fundamentals; the ‘shop windows’ of careers site, social media, EVP and the ongoing global recruiting campaign. The team continuously asks themselves if what they’re doing is relevant, if it has continuity, what else they can do and what’s truly innovative.

But doing the fundamentals well isn’t what really sets this team apart; it’s the communities they create and the value they give to prospective candidates. I’m going to spend most of my words here focused on the added value.

–         SAP’s sponsorship of Team Liquid (esports) is a great way of bonding with the tech community

–         The company’s sponsorship of world number 2 ranked darts player Rob Cross. Prowess in darts is about excellence but it’s a sport which also exudes fun

–         Talent Win, SAP’s brilliant ‘red carpet’ events programme for prospective candidates who are in serious high demand and may otherwise not connect. The Talent Win team puts on events with fashion retailers, in football arenas, backstage access at Cirque du Soleil and Shakira concerts.

  • Special mention for the recent private KT Tunstall (another Scot – theme developing) event where KT told her story and performed for female leaders in the company and potential future recruits. All on theme for the SAP ‘Women who Rock’ initiative
  • After the private event, KT played on for a wider group of fans, courtesy of SAP
  • KT Facebook Lived and Instagram Storied at the event and attendees were encouraged to share their favourite moments

–         The investment the company makes in people is difficult to find matched anywhere else. I’m not talking about the stellar benefits and perks but more so the amazing focus on learning and development. Personally, I think the future of recruiting is inseparable from learning and development and I’m delighted to see the intrinsic link here at SAP

  • SAP’s core vision and purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives and of course that includes its own people
  • “Your success matters at SAP so seize the moment” is an inspirational message and SAP’s strategic proposition
  • The opportunity to learn on your own terms and build your own career path is one of the biggest emphasis at SAP
  • Lots of opportunity to learn in the multitude of employee networks across the business
  • Not only a plethora of secondment opportunities but job swaps!

–         Outside the organisation and the company’s commitment to improving lives is of great appeal to prospective candidates. Two of my favourite initiatives include:

  • Africa Code Week – SAP’s promise to instil digital literacy and coding skills to Africa’s youth; there is a queue of SAP people who want to contribute to this
  • Global Alliance for YOUth – a commitment to this programme whose objective is to improve 6 million lives by enhancing workplace readiness

–         This company even has its own cartoon, Life at SAP Illustrated. Check it out on Twitter #SAPIllustrated and Facebook

–         SAP wants to attract entrepreneurs. A department in the organisation, SAP.io is open to internal candidates who have gone on to launch businesses as well as external founders who can supercharge their ventures with investment, technology or coaching

One element of envy I’ve heard directed towards SAP is the budget they ‘must have’ for employer branding. Let’s remember however that many of the things I’ve talked about here weren’t created for employer branding purposes. They are compelling elements of a brilliant company and the employer branding team’s role is to bring that to life. In Robin Dagostino’s words, “If we can’t get this amazing story out there, we’ve failed.”

I’ve only scratched the surface here. I can only imagine what it’s like to work at SAP; it seems awesome.

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