Carmen Krueger, General Manager, Cloud, SAP National Security and Services
SAP’s U.S.-based National Security and Services arm recently brought two cloud products to the federal government and commercial regulated markets: a software-as-a-service suite for human capital management, and a secure cloud version of its HANA database technology. At the center of the project is General Manager Carmen Krueger, who says that developing leadership skills requires some patience and observation.
“If you try to simply mimic an approach that may fit one corporate culture or a current boss, you will limit your ability to grow, move and gain experiences,” she says.
She quotes Sun Tzu’s insight from “The Art of War,” about how elemental flavors, colors and musical notes can combine in infinite ways. It’s essential to “appreciate the diversity of opinions, styles, cultures and points of view” in any organization, she says. “Constructive disagreement, open discussion and respectful debate are how we get to informed decisions.”
Can you talk about the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you conquer that challenge?
I think the biggest challenge is achieving balance — across your business, your people and your personal life. I have not conquered the challenge, but have learned to embrace the chaos. If I am not worried about creating balance then I have stopped analyzing and questioning the approach and path we have taken. Don’t confuse this with indecision. It is the incorporation and recognition that tuning business and life is a process, not an event.
What/who inspired you to get into your field of work?
I grew up in a small family business in the technology space. It made me appreciate what technology could do, but also how quickly innovation and change are part and parcel of this industry. My parents were very hard workers and had resilience — as small-business owners, they had to constantly be willing to adapt to survive and grow. My first job out of military service was also very important. It set the stage for me to go into the software industry. To this day I appreciate the willingness of this technology company to bring me into their organization. My hiring manager was very open-minded to take a chance on me, a military lawyer. She is an amazing executive who taught me early, important lessons in leadership, communication, and management skills that I apply every day.
Why is it important to you to empower women and other minorities to join more technical and technology-related fields?
Diversity is a requirement to bring the best into your business, stay ahead of the innovation curve or maybe to even create a new one. But, let’s be clear: If you bring diversity into your organization and then try to make everyone the same, then it has defeated its purpose. Moreover, it is about ensuring diversity exists throughout the organization. For example, if you statistically have a large population of women in a technology firm, but they are all in certain roles, nothing has been accomplished anything other than creating the façade of diversity.