days
0
-71
-5
hours
0
-5
minutes
-1
-2
seconds
-4
-9
search
Profile: Elvira Wallis, Senior Vice President, Global Head of SAP Globalization Services

Women in Tech: “You can make a real difference in today’s world”

Sarah Schlothauer

Three years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Elvira Wallis, Senior Vice President, Global Head of SAP Globalization Services.

research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Three years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Elvira Wallis, Senior Vice President, Global Head of SAP Globalization Services.

Today’s Woman in Tech: Elvira Wallis, Senior Vice President, Global Head of SAP Globalization Services

A recognized business executive, software engineer, and thought leader, Elvira currently leads SAP Globalization Services as Senior Vice President and Global Head. Guided by a holistic, inclusive approach, Elvira builds strong, collaborative relationships with customers, stakeholders, and high-performance teams. She then integrates the resulting insights into localized SAP software versions–allowing businesses to run on a global scale.

When did you become interested in technology?

I had great role models with my parents. They are both tinkerers, which is a person who experiments with materials and ideas to arrive at a solution and to understand the capacity of a material or idea. A tinkerer is also a person who iterates on their experiments and their learnings to find better solutions to problems. It is about hands-on experiences; it is about learning from challenges; and it is about taking the time to explore and invent. I grew up watching and emulating my parents tinkering. Every weekend there were exploratory experiments to build something or to get something to run.

Did you receive support from your family and friends? Do you have a role model?

I have received plenty of support from family and friends who I can always call upon for guidance in the challenging moments of life. It makes a world of difference to be surrounded by an empathetic environment. Your environment, your family, and friends all have a tremendous influence on your well-being and health. I have been very lucky to have my family as my strong supporters and to have been the recipient of numerous acts of kindness.

I do not have specific role models because the world has many wonderful people. I choose to discover and learn from each person with whom I interact. I feel lucky that I am working at SAP with a great team of experts that I learn from every day.

I choose to discover and learn from each person with whom I interact.

A day in Elvira’s life

I currently work at SAP, a global software company that is present in more than 180 countries around the world and touches 77% of the world’s transaction revenue. I lead SAP Globalization Services as Senior Vice President and Global Head. In my role, I enable businesses to succeed locally and globally. International businesses face numerous challenges as they operate in different regulatory frameworks. Together with a global team of experts, I help companies meet these challenges by adapting software to local business requirements and regulations, compliance, tax, and statutory reporting requirements.

On a typical workday, I have the pleasure of meeting with people that all have enriching perspectives to offer. For example, I might meet customers who share their business challenges of operating in multiple countries and the demands that puts on their business operations. Or I might meet with experts on the team who have profound knowledge and expertise in the way business is done in a particular country around the world.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

The factors for why there is a lack of women working at technology companies start early. Women are just 30% of students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) university courses (Women In Tech report by PWC UK – PricewaterhouseCoopers). This means that females are not choosing tech courses, which can happen for a myriad of reasons. So, to solve the gender gap at tech companies, we need to look at the root causes for why women are not pursuing STEM in school and in university, and strive to work with girls well before it is time for them to choose a career. SAP does that with initiatives to promote tech careers in schools and university fairs. Great examples of this work are the SAP partnerships Girls who Code and Kode with Klossy.

Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in tech face?

The challenges that women in tech face are similar to what women face in any other environment where they are a minority. The simple notion of not being equally represented in the workforce can already lead to an uncomfortable environment for women. Another challenge that is often cited as an issue for women is the impostor syndrome, which prevents women from taking on challenging opportunities due to doubts of their own abilities or feeling like a fraud.

Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?

I would like to answer this question more broadly. It would be a step forward if the diversity we see in society was reflected in the tech industry workforce. A diverse workforce has a richer pool of perspectives on addressing a challenge or an issue, which leads to more informed and balanced outcomes, and contributes to software that reflects the diversity of its users. In the world of business software, a workforce that is diverse will mirror the customer base that adopts and uses that software.

The software that is produced will provide a superior experience if the workforce producing it understands the different personas of its diverse user base. Simply put: you will have a better understanding of the market if you have a more diverse workforce. In the organization I run, SAP Globalization Services, we have experts in 40 countries around the world, and we thrive on the richness of the inputs that the experts in the various locations provide. We develop localized software solutions for SAP and we purposefully are present in each of these software markets with these experts who have the experience and expertise to absorb and leverage local input. For example, if you want to provide social media integration for business software in regions around the world, it is critical to understand the behavior of business users in each country.

On a typical workday, I have the pleasure of meeting with people that all have enriching perspectives to offer.

What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career?

If I were to describe the tech industry in one word, it would be “fascinating”. If you look at biographies of people such as the astronaut Kalpana Chawla, you see core behaviors that I find very helpful to follow:

  1. A focus on an outstanding education, combined with a thirst for continuous learning
  2. Versatility
  3. Perseverance

Always remember that you can make a real difference in today’s world. There is so much that you can aspire to be.

More Women in Tech:

Author
Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for JAXenter.com. She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments