His team stands behind him, literally. RALF STOHLDREIER uses a group photo as his background for video calls: approximately 230 people from nearly a dozen nations, women and men, spanning all ages. This is what diversity looks like. And it’s his job to build a single unit out of this diverse team. “That can be a challenge,” he says. “For example, if a young employee is pushing for immediate change while an experienced colleague points out that the tried-and-tested procedures work well.” What matters then is the discourse: “Change happens when we connect the different arguments.”
Ralf Stohldreier, born in 1964, has held management positions in IT consulting and sales for 25 years. Since mid-2018, he has been responsible for Professional Services at Software AG for the DACH region and Bulgaria. His team sells and designs consulting solutions. What’s the key to success here? “Active listening to develop services that deliver the best results for customers.” A prime example was the “climathon,” in which team members pitched ideas on IoT products for greater climate protection. “Here we saw that none of us are just one consultant among thousands.” As the team leader, Stohldreier—who was an officer in the German army before starting his career in the IT industry—sees his role as a team coach. “When I make a decision, I always have to consider the consequences—for the customer, my team, the Company.”
As Senior Vice President of Professional Services for the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, TRYGVE SLETTE considers himself a problem solver: “The core team of about 60 people across the region works every day on reaching ambitious goals.” For example, making happiness measurable. The Dubai Authority wants to find out how satisfied people are with its services, and for one of the Dubai Government Agencies “we collected all the information that we could find on the topic, right up to posts and comments on social media.”
The agency’s goal of benchmarking itself against customer satisfaction inspired him as a team leader. “Each problem is different and requires a new perspective for the solution.” The 52-year-old is convinced that the dynamics of diversity lead to success.
His Norwegian parents instilled internationality in him in the cradle. They worked as engineers in various African countries, and their son was always with them: starting in Zambia where he was born, to Kenya then Liberia and Tunisia, and later India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. “Change has always been the normal state of affairs for me.” When his parents returned to Scandinavia, Slette realized that he was missing something. He went to Singapore and then Dubai, where he has lived for the last eight years. “So many cultures come together in Dubai that openness and diversity are natural,” he says. The city life pulsates. “Just like companies also pulsate when they embody diversity.”
Her full last name is Paramesvara Manjula, which sounds lovely but is a bit complicated for untrained speakers and listeners. That’s why she prefers to abbreviate it: ANALA PM. “It’s easier for many of my international contacts.” In her role as an HR Generalist, the 30-year-old from Bengaluru in South India is responsible for HR operations. When she speaks with new hires, there is a term that she often uses: “Family. I use it to advertise for the Company, and I experience every day that it’s actually true.”
When she joined Software AG three years ago, Anala PM focused on the Indian HR market. Then the Asia-Pacific region was added, and now she communicates with HR colleagues all over the world. “The feeling of being part of a family has remained,” she says. “And this family is becoming more and more global.” The local silo mentality is dissipating and making way for a worldwide connection.
There are no traditional core working hours. “We work in a hybrid model, which means office hours and leisure time are very flexible.” For her, this means that meetings with HR colleagues in different time zones can sometimes be later in the evening. “I like it,” she says, “because I can manage my schedule with more flexibility.” She is not the only one with this positive view: When she talks to IT talents, Anala PM notices that this flexibility is a benefit many potential candidates now highly value.
Does he sometimes miss managing a team? “I do think about that from time to time,” says JAY GAUTHIER. “No, because I enjoy changing and adapting to how I can best contribute.”
Jay Gauthier, Vice President of Product Management, lives in Florida. He joined Software AG nearly a quarter of a century ago, much of that time managing engineering teams before taking a role in Product Management. He likes that every day is different. The broad-based, diverse teams he works with are intentionally formed depending on the project. “It works because so much of our business now relies on colleagues from different teams, business units and departments working together.”
The transformation to more usage-based subscription revenue represents a current focus in his work. “We’re increasingly implementing pricing models where customers only pay for what they use.” This business model is critical to our future. “In order to succeed, we need to know exactly what customers use and invoice them accordingly. As they get more value from our products and services, we generate more revenue.” And because each internal project is different, the teams change as well. One team collaborates on free trial offerings, another ensures that customers have an accurate view of their usage and so on. “I help to assemble the right specialists depending on the project,” says Jay. “This adaptability is what really drives change for us and for customers.”