SAP: improving sustainability practices after lockdown
None of us could have anticipated the huge impact of the COVID-19 crisis back at the start of 2020. In a very short space of time, we’ve all been forced to respond and adapt amidst lockdowns and uncertainty.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that we won’t be returning to our pre-lockdown version of reality any time soon – if at all – as this pandemic and the lessons from it continue to have a marked impact on how we live and work.
Amidst this uncertainty is also opportunity. This period of upheaval should be prompting business leaders to reflect on how their organisations are run and to start looking ahead to how they will re-emerge post-lockdown. Whilst the virus is triggering a downturn in the global economy, it has also had the power to bring so much to a halt – resulting in lower CO2 emissions in some countries and cities.
SAP’s Sustainability Council is an internal governance framework that enables every area of the company to contribute to its sustainability priorities and objectives. The council acts as an ethical advisory board for the company and communicates with internal and external audiences on the business relevance of this topic. My role is to deliver the customer’s perspective into the decision-making process and to make sure sustainability becomes a key topic in customer conversations and engagements.
Organisations – including our customers and partners – are having to adapt quickly in order to best protect themselves, the livelihoods of their staff, and the wider economy. Technology has been instrumental in facilitating this, with an estimated 20 million people suddenly needing to work from home.
Never have we been forced to stop like this. Planes are grounded, people are staying in place, and – remarkably – many businesses, including ours, are able to continue to function. The world hasn’t stopped turning and there are important lessons here for us all.
Sustainability has been climbing up the priority list for SAP and our customers for some time. This period is accelerating this further – providing not only the opportunity for reflection about the benefits of remote working and virtual meetings on the economy and family-life but also their impact on the environment.
At the World Economic Forum in January, SAP announced its aims to achieve a cleaner ocean by providing customers, NGOs, governments, and partners with the tools, insights, and solutions they need to eliminate waste and maximise resource productivity. Using SAP Digital Supply Chain solutions, customers can now track waste throughout their value chain. In Davos, SAP also joined the CEO Carbon Neutral Challenge to support global business in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Now more than ever we are realising the awesome capability of technology when harnessed for good. This period is enabling us to get closer to achieving the goals we announced at the WEF and imagine the possibility for even loftier ambitions.
As we start to anticipate our post-lockdown realities across the region, I have two key priorities: one is to ensure my staff feels happy, safe and supported in their eventual return to the office – whatever that may look like. Our needs will be different, as people’s priorities and responsibilities have shifted during the lockdown. Childcare as well as the care of vulnerable and elderly loved ones will not come off the agenda and I want to empower every single one of my employees to do what is right for them as well as for SAP.
The second priority is to evaluate what this period is teaching us in terms of both business and environmental sustainability. At SAP we are no stranger to taking customers on transformational journeys – and this is an amazing opportunity to do that at a larger scale. If businesses like ours and our customers are able to continue under these strange circumstances, we need to question what it is that we need to reinstate once lockdowns lift.
We have long known about the need to reduce emissions but COVID-19 is literally forcing us to stop in our tracks. To look around us, to breathe cleaner air, and to embrace the opportunities in front of us.
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5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.