The importance of staying curious

To celebrate the launch of Women in ICT Asia in Singapore, Channel Asia profiles the leading female technology leaders across the region
Marion Ryan (SAP)

Marion Ryan (SAP)

There are many things that shape a person. Throughout my life and career, I have been lucky to have family, colleagues and friends who have lived the values that have shaped who I am and impacted my career.

The consistent and recurring lessons are centred around always staying curious, giving back to your community and constantly adopting a learning, growth mindset.

Coaching and mentoring

As a child, my mother showed me the importance of always contributing back to society. Despite having a full-time job, she always had the time and energy to give back to her community through various volunteer organisations on a regular basis.

I saw first hand both the contribution she was able to make and the satisfaction my mother took in making a difference. Because of this early role modelling, I try my very best to empower and inspire others too.

This is one way of fostering a collaborative work environment where team spirit gives us that extra push when trying to overcome tough challenges. It’s also what drives me to encourage and promote more women to join and remain in the STEM industries.

Growing up, I also played a variety of sports including netball, softball and basketball and as I developed my skills, I began to develop an interest in coaching.

Playing sports, especially team sports, is especially helpful and reinforces the point that each team member matters. An average team that works with a shared vision will most probably edge out a talented but dysfunctional team.

Different individuals bring along different skillsets and if we can harness their strengths while mitigating their weaknesses, the team will be able to play at an elite level, overcoming any inherent talent deficit.

As a coach, I was focused on leveraging the different value each team member brings and encouraging them to be proud of their difference.

After all, individuals win games, but teams win championships. Similarly in a workplace, it has been well-documented how gender diversity boosts the bottom line for companies.

Organisations will do better when they are made up of a community of diverse individuals and those individuals feel included in striving for better outcomes.

Adopting a growth mindset

At SAP, I had the opportunity to work with Adaire Fox Martin, now executive board member, Global Customer Operations at SAP, when she was based in Singapore and it was through my interactions with her I learnt that every engagement and every experience can become “teachable moments”.

And that, in fact, unforeseen circumstances offer us the best opportunities to grow and learn and we should always lookout for the opportunity to learn.

This life lesson is especially pertinent for me, a professional in the technology industry where the only constant here is change. Every day, new innovations occur and old business models are disrupted.

To thrive in such a dynamic environment, it is an advantage to be curious, and it is critical to adopt a growth mindset.

Take the role of channel partners for instance, their traditional silo roles as either an alliance, system integrator or reseller partner are being disrupted.

Today, partners take on multiple roles e.g. system integrator, reseller, ISV, OEM, management consultant and managed service provider due to the convergence of multiple emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and 5G.

Customers are now expecting channel partners to take them through their end-to-end digital transformation needs and as such, the best partners are the ones who treat each customer interaction as a "teachable moment" - learning how best to evolve their offerings to stay ahead of customer demands.

In my new, expanded role at SAP, I hope to help our customers get the best outcomes from their digital transformation by leveraging the power of the SAP partner community.

I expect these lessons I have learnt will continue to serve me well throughout my career. And I expect to learn many more.

I also hope by sharing this, it encourages others to consider adopting a growth mindset. I believe these lessons are timeless and will remain as keys to success for everyone.

Marion Ryan is vice president and head of channels across Asia Pacific and Japan at SAP