Developing Next Generation Global Managers Who can Provide Unmatched Value for their Clients
SAP Japan Co., Ltd. supports the globalization of Japanese companies and helps them solve management obstacles. GLOBIS launched the Global Talent Enhancement Program (GTEP) to develop professional human resources as global managers who can support their clients.
We interviewed the following people from SAP Japan Co., Ltd. about their experience with our Global Talent Enhancement Program (GTEP):
- Mr. Yuki Takatsuka (Vice President & Executive Officer, Head of Strategic Industries)*
- Ms. Midori Ota (COO Office SAP Sales Learning)*
- Mr. Yoshiki Takahashi (SAP Customer Experience Senior Director, CX Partner Sales)*
*Department and position are as of the time of the interview.
1. Background and Challenges
Mr. Takatsuka: Our main issue was that, in the daily activities of each global account owner (GAO), some proposals did not have practical solutions for our clients. We found ourselves unable to solve client challenges because we were focusing only on solutions that we already had.
Some employees worried that focusing on customer success would make us lose touch with our business. So, we decided to help our employees by learning more about management perspectives.
We started an in-house educational program to solve these issues, and it ran for several years. I was an instructor. We also enlisted the help of GLOBIS to deepen our employees’ management perspectives.
Ms. Ota: We determined that our issue was unique to SAP Japan, so we looked for support from a Japanese business school. And that’s how we started the GTEP project with GLOBIS.
Mr. Takatsuka: Our primary goals were for our employees to change their perspectives and start acting on their own initiative.
Mr. Takahashi: Many of our clients are deeply concerned about how to transform their companies and expand overseas. If we cannot look beyond our clients, we cannot be advisors to them. We had to create a space for our employees to gain insights that would empower them to give back to our clients in a personalized way.
Mr. Takatsuka: We wanted to improve problem-solving skills as managers. That meant analyzing a client’s situation, both from the external environment and from the unique context of the company.
■GTEP Focus Points
Mr. Takatsuka: Ensuring customer success is one of the most important key themes for SAP globally. We had another in-house program a few years ago, and the theme was “Challenger Sales.” Challenger sales is the act of thinking about what clients need, rather than simply responding to what they want. So, a primary focus point for us the GTEP was understanding customer success perspectives on a deeper level.
Mr. Takahashi: “Customer Success” is a highly abstract term. The meaning and criteria may differ from one person to another. One of our biggest focus points for GTEP was to help the participants think about what exactly customer success is.
2. GTEP Review & Implementation
Mr. Takatsuka: Going in, one of my biggest worries was that it would be challenging to start a training program when the participants were already so busy.
Ms. Ota: There was concern that participants could not learn what they needed to without the right mindset and environment. Therefore, my role was to have a face-to-face meeting with each participant and ask them about their situation. I needed to understand how they handled their time.
Ms. Ota: GLOBIS helped with supporting the participants, responded to our requests, advised us on the program, and more. The lecturers used “we” rather than “your company” or “you,” asking questions like “What would we do?” I was pleased that they were thinking from our company’s point of view.
Mr. Takatsuka: We felt “accompanied” by GLOBIS. The GLOBIS consultants, Mr. Nakashima and Ms. Dewulf, considered things from our perspectives—you could tell by the way they planned and adjusted things during the program. I am also grateful for how receptive they were to feedback.
Mr. Takahashi: I am filled with gratitude to the GLOBIS consultants and lecturers—they really worked with us from planning of the program to completion. At times, the lecturers posed tough questions, such as, “If you were the CEO or a shareholder, how would you evaluate the management?” That facilitation really impressed us. It’s impossible to get to the heart of a client’s issues if we just lay out facts. We need to keep ourselves open to the unique business origins and social changes behind the facts.
We also received excellent guidance in creating the account plan from the lecturers. They made the participants think, “I need to push myself harder.” They stretched themselves to learn, and they received a lot of feedback. For example, they were honestly told whether a plan was feasible, whether it could involve stakeholders, and whether it would appeal to clients.
GLOBIS did not just provide a set program—they provided ongoing support toward what we truly wanted to achieve. Creating opportunities for discussion, questions, and deep discussion (not just giving answers)—I think these are the greatest values of GLOBIS.
3. Results and Future Prospects
■Changes in Participants after the Program
Mr. Takatsuka: Especially for the participants who were more distant from managerial thinking, the wheels have started to turn. Several now talk about management when creating business plans or talking to client executives. That’s exactly the kind of behavioral change we were aiming for.
Some of our managers have asked if we could include their department in the next round, and our stakeholders have been impressed by the changes they see in GTEP graduates.
Mr. Takahashi: We interviewed every participant after the program and received several encouraging comments: “I am now able to make proposals to clients with a larger vision,” and “I am now able to promote business on a larger scale.” This indicates a new perspective toward clients, as well as business scale. Their ability to make proposals and appeal to their clients has improved dramatically.
Ms. Ota: The quality of standardized business plans within the company has improved. We have seen participants realize the value of planning and coordinating with others. Participants have started to think more about customer insights as part of a business plan. This is one of the most encouraging results of GTEP.
■Reflections from the Coordinators
Ms. Ota: Looking back, the three of us were well balanced in terms of operations. Since we are not in HR, we ran GTEP while doing other work. That brought some positive diversity to our approach.
Mr. Takatsuka is a management leader, so his goal was to make GTEP successful as an organizational effort. As a back-office representative, I promoted planning and operations. Mr. Takahashi is usually onsite, but I asked him to go above and beyond his role. If this program had operated in a single department, all of this would have been more difficult.
Mr. Takatsuka: It would have been difficult to plan this in a single department. Our jobs are completely different, so what drives us is our personal mission (kokorozashi in Japanese). This is what makes SAP unique.
We do our daily work, but the company really wants us to think about what we want to do based on our personal missions. GLOBIS makes this a priority, as well, and that’s one of the reasons I liked their approach.
Mr. Takahashi: The first phase of GTEP focused on individual growth. As a second phase, we plan to include perspectives on how to expand into the organization overall. That means more focus on participants in managerial positions linking individual growth to the company’s strengths. With GLOBIS as a partner, we hope to spread customer success throughout the company.
Mr. Takatsuka: I think the value of GLOBIS is that it pursues not only the business aspect, but also personal impact. SAP is a foreign-affiliated company with a pragmatic reputation but it’s also a company where real people work. There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to pursue our personal missions, as well. I look forward to working with GLOBIS toward both business and personal aspirations.
GLOBIS Consultants’ Voices
In the GTEP training course, we focus on asking the participants about customer challenges and the future: “What do you think? Forget for a moment what the client is saying or what is written publicly.” As a result, I was very happy to witness changes in the thinking and perspectives of the participants.
GTEP is not a typical training program. It is a strategic initiative to realize SAP Japan’s vision of helping Japanese companies go global. We were honored to be selected as their partner in this. I will continue to ask myself how GTEP can best help further the goals of SAP Japan’s clients. As a partner, we will do our utmost to accompany SAP Japan in its future initiatives to achieve customer success from both a business and personal mission perspective.
The power of the informal network of like-minded people—Mr. Takatsuka, Mr. Takahashi, Ms. Ota, and Ms. Miyazaki – is truly amazing. We are delighted to be a part of it. (Note: Ms. Miyazaki supported GTEP operations, but was not available for this interview.)
At GLOBIS, we strive to develop visionary leaders who create and innovate societies. In most cases, we do this for Japanese companies, either with programs designed for Japanese employees or for international employees working in Japan. GTEP was special: The program created an opportunity to realize synergies inherent in SAP’s global business model that could be applied withinJapan. It was indeed our honor to be part of this learning journey of a leading global company.
We challenged the participants not only to understand their clients, but to reimagine their future when competing on the global stage. Many of the program elements were not directly applicable to the participants’ day-to-day jobs, but the learning journey nurtured their ability to think about client issues from various perspectives. The vision that SAP Japan has is special. I hope for their continued success supporting Japanese companies going global!