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SAP show shines spotlight on women tech leaders

By Ben Ames | May 17, 2017 | 5:38 AM

Sit through enough keynote panels led by over-caffeinated executives, and you could be excused for being wary of the boasts and promises often proffered at industry trade shows.

So skepticism was warranted when SAP SE CEO Jeff McDermott began to wax eloquent on the German software giant’s achievements in empathy to its customers, reduction of its carbon footprint, hiring of autistic professionals, and gender-neutral promotion practices.

But at least one cynical reporter in the audience was chastened when McDermott then called on a succession of high-wattage, tech-industry women to join him on the keynote stage at SAP’s annual user conference, the Sapphire show in Orlando.

Mala Anand, SAP’s executive vice president and president of SAP Leonardo, Data & Insights, spoke on the evolution of the Leonardo platform from a pure Internet of Things (IoT) tool into a “digital innovation system.”

Diane Bryant, chip-maker Intel Corp.’s group president of the Data Center Group, previewed her company’s plans to launch an improved computing platform based on the latest “Cascade Lake” Xeon processor and 3D XPoint (pronounced “cross-point”) memory.

Diane Greene, senior vice president for Google Cloud and a member of the Alphabet Inc. board of directors, described the products of Google’s partnership with SAP, such as a certification for SAP’s S/4 HANA cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) product to run on the Google cloud.

Finally, McDermott welcomed two recent additions to SAP’s board of directors, “who happen to be women, but are there because they’re best.” Adaire Fox-Martin and Jennifer Morgan both oversee the company’s performance in Global Customer Operations for the SAP SE Executive Board.

Of course, SAP has not hired Bryant or Greene. But by featuring them as speakers on its main stage—and by employing Anand, Fox-Martin, and Morgan—the powerful tech vendor literally shone a spotlight on the impact women can make as leaders of our industry.

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