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Ferose V R

Managing Director, SAP Labs India

Ferose V R

Managing Director, SAP Labs India

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Ferose V R believes openness to change and a willingness to try something new are essential elements in managing your own career.

Ferose V R started at SAP as a developer, then became a people manager and board assistant before advancing to become Managing Director for SAP Labs India. Recently he moved to the US while continuing to lead the Globalization Services unit.

“You have to create your own path, look for the right opportunities and continuously prepare for those opportunities,” he says.” You cannot plan for when the right opportunity will come knocking”.

According to the CEB 2015 Career Management Benchmarking Report, while nine out of ten organizations feel that employees can control their own career paths, a majority of employees think differently.

So, how do we ensure SAP employees do not fall into that majority? A key career management credo at SAP is “ You own your career, but you’re not on your own,” and SAP offers Planning Your Career, a self-paced program that provides the guidance and resources employees need to proactively plan and develop their careers.

“It is important not to learn in isolation, but within a business context, and to constantly evaluate yourself and stay relevant”, stresses Ferose. “The secret,” he shares, “is to embrace new roles, working environment and/or locations to get a more holistic view.”

For many, that may be easier said than done. So in reflecting on what he has learned from his own career journey, Ferose boils it down to four main practices that he believes all employees and leaders need to embrace if they are to control their own career paths.

Ferose’s four tips from his career journey

  1. Change at least one of these three parameters frequently: role, location, and/or line-of-business environmentLearning and constantly reinventing oneself are important, says Ferose. He advises employees to embrace different cultures and develop a global perspective which he says is essential when working for a global company. In addition, experiencing different areas of the business helps employees to adapt to different visions and working routines. While detailed topic expertise is of utmost importance and can only be gained through time and experience, it is becoming more and more important that employees offer both depth and breadth of knowledge 
  2. Actively search for new opportunities, through formal channels like internal job openings, as well as informal channels such as internal networks and personal connections. It is extremely important to build relationships and maintain them, since relationships grow over time. “Roles are only offered if you have built credibility and trust”, says Ferose. 
  3. Invest in yourself by eagerly learning. No budget is required since employees can learn every day, Ferose believes. The mistake many people make is that they only think in terms of formal training; sometimes this is necessary, but the best learning is on the job. Why? Because employees go through the experience. “Most people do not know what the Cloud is until they have jumped into it,” says Ferose; “in just the same way they do not know what Uber is until they have used the service. The secret lies in opening up your thinking, stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking time to reflect.”
  4. Fulfill your aspirations by following your passion. “I do not believe in a five-year career plan. Align your career along your strengths and not your weaknesses; they should not become your stumbling block,” says Ferose.

Career Development is work in progress every day

He views career development as a gradual process in which employees must constantly evolve. “Play every match as though it is your first one – with the passion to prove yourself, discover your strengths and weakness and to adapt,” he says. He encourages everyone to reflect constantly on the following questions; “Have I changed in the last five to ten years? Am I doing something new or doing it better?”

Role models also play an important part in this and Ferose has had many in his own career journey, both internal as well as external. He defines different types of role models:

  • A mentor is someone who helps you with your working area by providing specific guidance
  • A coach helps you to clear your mind and to give you a better thinking ground
  • A sponsor speaks positively about you and champions you, usually someone who believes in you

“It helps to have a tough boss, because they push you to your limits and beyond. You get incredible learning opportunities,” adds Ferose. As a leader, he believes not only investing in himself, but also in his people, and he understands that the team’s success will lead to his success in the long term.

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