Friday, October 2, 2015

Me, Social Sabbatical, Colombia, and more.

Bienvenidos a mi blog, Amigos y Amigas!

So, as many of you know I work in the Corporate Audit department of SAP. I am embarking on a "once in a lifetime" journey to create an impact in Non Profit organization in an emerging economy. I will be spending 1 whole month away from home, in Bogota, Colombia lending my professional expertise to a socially responsible non-profit organization fighting Poverty in Colombia. I created this blog to share this first ever Pro-Bono consulting experience of mine - in real time!

SAP Social Sabbatical

So what is this Social Sabbatical program? The official description of the program is as follows: "The SAP Social Sabbatical is a unique, short-term assignment for SAP’s key talents who work in highly diverse, international teams to solve business challenges for the education and entrepreneurial sector in emerging markets, while strengthening their leadership competencies, cross industry sector know-how and intercultural sensitivity."

This program is managed by the Corporate Social Responsibility group of SAP and SAP's implementation partner called Pyxera Global. Every year, around 96 candidates are shortlisted from a pool of around 4000 top talent employees to spend 4 weeks in an emerging economy. These candidates are handpicked and assigned to projects in non-profit organizations based on their skills and requirement of the clients. Some of the emerging economies in 2015 where the SoSa participants will be travelling/have traveled to are: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, China, India, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa.

Team Colombia (a.k.a Bogota Orchids) and the Client Organizations:

Colombia happens to be the first assignment for the 2015 batch with the dates: Oct 3rd - Nov 1st 2015. There are 11 other colleagues traveling with me from different SAP Board areas and Countries. 

So, here is the team:
Sheri Shaaf - US
Daniel Lee - Canada
Gerda Slagter - Netherlands
Michal Zezula - Czech Republic
Georg Fischer - Germany
Sabrina Armbruster - Germany
Steffen Kress - Germany
Gek Yeo - UK
Srikanth Rajamani - US
Divya Malemath - India
Fatima Abdullah - US
René Wirthmann - Germany

Couple of weeks ago we were asked to come up with a team name and motto. We decided on the team name: "Bogota Orchids". (Thanks to the creative ideas from the team, especially from Sabrina).

We are assigned to 4 different clients:
  1. Fundación Capital. 
    • FundaciónCapital designs financial inclusion and education programs and products in partnership with partners in government and financial institutions. Put simply, they provide knowhow and design methods of improving financial services for low-income communities.
    • Scope of Work: Accelerate the transition of our Digital Solutions Division to a mixed-funding model, if feasible, by supporting the development of a product and services portfolio that would support the creation of a business model for the Digital Solutions Division.
    • Team: Georg Fischer, Daniel Lee, Gek Yeo. 
    • URL:
    • URL:
  2. Fundación Proyectar Sin Fronteras (PSF)
    • PSF’s mission is to develop and promote participatory projects with high social impact that reduce economic vulnerability through innovation in social business.
    • Scope of Work: Standardize the processes and tools that allow them to manage their projects in a comprehensive manner from the moment they are designed then promoted, sold, executed. A project management life cycle that could be replicated by PSF all projects. A reporting tool with key performance indicators for all PSF projects. Financial Management tools. 
    • Team: Gerda Slagter, Michal Zezula, Srikanth Rajamani.
    • URL:
  3. Fundación SOLE Colombia
    • FUNDACIÓN SOLE Colombia thrives to transform the future of learning through the self-organized learning environments (SOLE) methodology. SOLE methodology is where children (or adults) work in groups to solve a great question using the internet and discuss their ideas with each other, inspiring them to enjoy learning and explore the possibilities education holds.
    • Scope of Work: Review the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tools SOLE currently has and design and integrate new indicators with what is already in place as well as review the current organizational business canvas.
    • Team: Rene Wirthmann, Fatimah Abdullah, Divya Malemath.
  4. Fundación Genesis: 
    • Genesis Foundation is a non-profit organization originally created in the United States that seeks to create a more inclusive society for Colombian children by improving the quality of their education.
    • Scope of Work: Create specific objectives, goals, and indicators that reflect the mission and vision of the organization as well as make the connection between projects on the ground and macro-level sustainable development objectives (SDGs).
    • Team: Sheri Schaaf, Sabrina Armbruster, Steffen Kress.
    • URL:

So there you go, I'm in Team PSF! along with Gerda Slagter from Netherlands and Michal Zezula from Czech Republic. A bit more information about my team: Gerda is an HR manager with years of solid HR experience. Michal is a Network Growth Manager for Ariba and has 3 years project management and customer relationship management experience. As for me, I have more than 7 years of project management and business process improvement experience. 

We already had a couple of calls with our client. Tracey Armitage will be primary contact and the project manager from the client side along with Juan Forero who is the VP and Board Member of PSF. Tracey is an American from Maryland but has been living in Bogota for 9 months. Juan is married to an American and speaks English like a native speaker! No sweat with the language issues there! I was told that some of the other teams may have to use a translator. 

I have to mention at this point though, that I have been trying to learn Spanish for a year now (albeit not consistently), so I can speak basic Spanish. 

I'm certainly looking forward to working with new colleagues in a completely foreign country and a brand new client! 


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