A palpable sense of excitement permeated the newly inaugurated office of SAP Philippines in Ortigas Center. Not only were the employees manifestly happy with their new and much larger corporate environment, they were equally excited to meet some of their company executives, who flew in especially for the occasion, led by the lady president of SAP Asia Pacific Japan (APJ), Adaire Fox-Martin.
As an integral part of the area she covers, Fox-Martin said she has visited the Philippines quite a number of times. She underlined that her visit this time marks a milestone for the company in the Philippines. Fox-Martin said, “2014 marks 25 years of operations for SAP in the Asia Pacific Japan region.” The soft-spoken lady boss of SAP APJ also said, “We remain committed to helping organizations of all sizes benefit from both the simplicity of the cloud and the breakthrough power of SAP HANA (High-Performance Analytic Appliance) platform to run better.”
She said the third and newest office of the company in the country would take care of two distinct functions: the customer sales organization and the shared financial services for the internal offices of SAP globally. This translates to around 200 people now currently working for SAP Philippines, and they are working to at least double the size by 2015. As part of the shared services facility for sales, the information technology (IT) company will be putting up a call center in the new office to support sales requirements across Asia.
SAP APJ is part of SAP SE (Systems Applications Products in Data Processing), a European multinational software corporation that is considered as one of the largest in the world. It is best known as the makers of enterprise software that help manage business operations and customer relations.
Headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, SAP SE was founded by five International Business Machine Corp. (IBM) Engineers Dietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, Klaus Tschira, and Claus Wellenreuther, who were then working in an enterprise-wide system based on the Scientific Data Systems/SAPE software for IBM.
SAP formally opened its corporate offices in the Philippines in 1995. The company currently serves around 1000 customers, comprised of almost all of the biggest Philippine conglomerates and stretches down to small businesses.
According to SAP Philippines’ corporate data, nine out of ten corporations in the Philippines run SAP, with 72-percent of the top 50 corporations in the Philippines also using their various business software solutions. Meanwhile, around 75-percent of their Philippine customers can be classified as small and medium scale type of businesses. The opening of the Ortigas office marks SAP’s 60th office in the region.
Fox-Martin said the expansion also showed the company’s reaffirmation of its confidence in the Philippines. She said, “In recent years, the Philippines has established itself as an excellent services hub for SAP and customers across the region, in addition to its fast paced domestic demand.”
As SAP president for a region that hosts diverse cultures, Fox-Martin affirmed that she has her work cut out for her. “I think when you choose a job like this, or it chooses you, you’re really choosing a lifestyle rather than jobs that have a defined nine-to-five work ethic.” She added, “It’s a job that demands high energy and passion, because the Asia Pacific region is a very broad region.” For her, this means constantly traveling from one country to the next in order to effectively manage her area. But it is a job that she is passionate about, she said. After all, she has worked in the APJ region for over 15 years, with her career spanning a total of over 23 years of experience in the IT sector, including a stint with Oracle Corporation as head of the public sector for APJ prior to joining SAP in 2008.
Fox-Martin said the coming years are going to be much more exciting for the region especially with the looming Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration. She said, “The integration will be both a challenge as well as an opportunity, because it provides a bigger base of consumers for companies to target, but its also provides an open environment where your competitors come into your market and do exactly the same thing.” This type of environment, she said, is exactly where companies like SAP can help their customers more. Fox-Martin reasoned, “Our software is localized for every country we operate in.” This is also one of the reasons why SAP is now laying down the groundwork by projecting a much larger presence in expected areas of growth, such as the Philippines.
Fox-Martin, meanwhile, said she has been blessed with one of the best IT leadership roles in the industry. She hopes that she could find more opportunities to give back someday. In particular, she noted that one of the roles that she would like to take on is chief executive officer of a “not-for-profit organization” where she could apply the skills that she had learned and experiences that she had gathered. Among such skills is creating a value proposition for a customer and delivering that same value proposition successfully. After all, she said, such organizations need to raise funds too. But the difference lies in helping more people without expecting anything in return. And that, she said, is the best value proposition of all.