What It's Like to Take an SAP Social Sabbatical

The social sabbatical journey for each participant is unique.

Mine started a few years ago, when colleagues in the SAP Concur Manila office were able to participate in the program and gave great feedback on their experiences. I got a closer look at the program through my involvement as the local executive sponsor for the first Social Sabbatical Program for Local Engagement Philippines. I saw a great learning opportunity. With the encouragement of my manager, I took the step of applying to the 2018-2019 cohort. I am grateful to be chosen to be part of the 12 employees who make up the Durban, South Africa team – the Durban Dozen. We named ourselves Team “Sekela,” which in the Zulu language means to “support.”

I feel truly fortunate I was sharing this journey with a great group of colleagues all with the drive and passion to make a positive difference. As an individual, what I can do to help others is limited, but to put in effort with others while being supported by SAP multiplies that effort to make that contribution much more significant.


Can you tell us a little bit more about the project for this Social Sabbatical?

Along with two colleagues from the Germany and Prague offices, I was assigned to work with the KZN e-Skills CoLab which is housed in the Durban University of Technology. The CoLab is established to assist the government in e-skilling the citizens of the province of KwaZulu-Natal through training, e-literacy programs, and research.

Our scope of work was to create a marketing strategy to support the CoLab’s work in driving awareness and knowledge for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to their target audience.   

We created a repeatable solution that the CoLab team can continue and reuse for each new project in the future. We laid the groundwork and partnered with the university to rework their website to more accurately reflect the CoLab identity. Social media channels that they can continue to use were created and the knowledge roadmap transferred for them to take forward.  


What were your favorite memories from your experience?

The program is an exciting four-week adventure full of stories and great memories and an easy favorite is that of our first ideation workshop session with the CoLab team. For many of them, it was their first time attending such an activity. An ice breaker game and a lot of sweets certainly helped to create a more comfortable atmosphere and encouraged great ideas to flow out with enthusiasm. Our sweets and games became a staple in the rest of our workshops.

On the SAP team front, my favorite memories are of our team get-togethers at breakfast and our weekends where we had the chance to see the beauty of South Africa. We hiked the Drakensberg mountains, saw the Valley of a Thousand hills, went on a Safari, and went on a hippo tour at the St. Lucia wetlands.


How does participating in the Social Sabbatical support you being your best-self at SAP Concur?

I am my best self when I am able to continue to learn and grow in my role at work and balance this by being able to give quality time to my family and personal endeavors. Social sabbatical is able to support this by providing a venue for rich experiential learning. I have gained a more culturally-sensitive mindset and learned lessons that allow me to increase my leadership capacity outside of my comfort zone. The relationships I have built through meaningful connections are priceless. Not only did I grow in my work life, I have also gained lifelong friends I treasure.



What inspired you to participate in a social sabbatical?

I take inspiration from my children. I have realized that when I participate in volunteer activities, these become opportunities for me to teach them life lessons and raise them with the mindset that they have to take action to contribute to make this world a better place. It is my hope that they too will become adults who have the passion to make a difference and I believe my participation in this program will contribute towards that. It is a journey of many lessons and one worth taking.

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