I wanted to become the editor-in-chief of ELLE, admits the CEO of SAP CR Hana Součková

Source: Courtesy of SAP

Hana Součková has worked at SAP ČR since 2014 as the director of the Czech and Slovak pre-sales departments. SAP develops and optimizes software for companies. Since August 2018, Hana Součková, as the General Manager of SAP CR, has been responsible for the entire team and for the business results of the Czech branch. She thus became one of the most influential women in the Czech Republic in 2021, according to Forbes magazine.

How did you get into the field of technology?

I studied Management and Economics in Construction at CTU and in the 4th year I was literally absorbed in marketing and everything around. Unfortunately, marketing in construction is not exactly the marketing I wanted to do. And then came the opportunity to focus on it at Scala Business Solutions. It was challenging, especially the first 2 months when I didn’t understand the industry terms and marketing language at all. But I’m so glad I didn’t let myself be discouraged. The world of marketing is a dynamic field in which everything that happens is projected.

One might say that technology is a male-dominated industry. Were the beginnings difficult for you as a woman in this regard?

I was very lucky to have never encountered any gender disadvantage during my career. When we entered Scala we had a completely super diversified team – I think it was almost 50 to 50 – so I had the best possible start. Differences woman vs. I certainly perceive a man, but not to the detriment of a woman. Fortunately, I have always worked with people who primarily perceived talent and potential, which gave me the opportunity to learn and move on.

Source: Courtesy of SAP

What do you think is the position of women in business? Is the situation improving or not? Are the situations in small businesses and corporate different?

I don’t think we have a fundamentally worse position. There is certainly a question of motherhood and a possible temporary ‘outage’, but even in this area I see much greater openness and opportunity today for women who want to combine a career with motherhood. I think it’s important to talk about it – it definitely helps the situation. Just because a woman who chooses both is not called a careerist or a bad mother. I think that the biggest limitation today is these stickers, and I see them as a result of the fact that our wider environment is not ready for such an approach. But when we browse the not quite distant history, 50-60 years ago, a woman could go to work in the field shortly after giving birth and it was not unusual. Sometimes it seems to me that the situation is better in smaller companies and that a smaller team allows for more flexibility, but the attitude of management is definitely crucial. For larger corporations, the set programs and quotas sometimes overwhelm the whole idea and become more of a task that needs to be accomplished. Then, unfortunately, the true meaning and purpose sometimes disappear.

How can time be effectively reconciled between work and family life?

I honestly don’t know that myself, but recently we discussed the topic of cooking with the hairdresser. I do this by preparing 4 – 5 meals on Sunday so that I can finish them quickly during the week and it doesn’t take me that long. My hairdresser’s reaction was very nice: “you can see that you have it in you and you can organize it all.” But it is necessary to realize that it is completely different at different stages of life. When children go to kindergarten, you don’t have to deal with homework, make snacks, the circles are mostly in kindergarten, and in fact you just deal with the logistics around picking up. But if you have teenagers like me, things around the school will ruin your time and logistics plans. But even that is gradually shifting, children want more independence over time and you suddenly have room for hobbies and any other activities. I think you just have to accept that there is something at every stage of your life that consumes more or less of your capacity, so you don’t have time to do what you want. If you accept this, the whole organization and harmonization is much easier. At the same time, it is very important not to be afraid to ask for help, whether your partner, spouse, grandmothers, aunts, just about anyone you have. In my opinion, heroism is not about falling for one’s country, but about being able to enjoy every possible moment. For example, I resigned very quickly to cleaning and ironing. We set up grandmother’s days and fortunately I had a lot of support from my husband.

Source: Courtesy of SAP

What does fashion mean to you? Do you have a favorite brand?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love fashion. Maybe it has to do with my passion for marketing – I simply have a weakness for beautiful things, design and colors, it fascinated me from an early age. I dreamed for a long time that I would one day be the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine. It seemed like a great job to tune the theme, photos, colors and everything I needed to make each issue perfect and evoke the right emotions. So far, I still enjoy the technology and I enjoy my passion for fashion in my wardrobe and my daughter’s wardrobe. I don’t have one particular brand, but I like sports fashion. I haven’t seen the costumes yet. But in the office, I have heeled shoes in all sorts of colors hidden in the closet, because if they don’t match, I can’t get out. This also applies to details such as the color of the watch strap. I think I have almost all the colors. My weaknesses are accessories in general, especially sunglasses. I always tailor them to the clothes according to color, shape, type – at home they already have fun (laughs).

Who is your role model or inspiration for your working life?

I don’t even have a specific pattern. During my working life, I was lucky to meet a lot of very inspiring people. Currently, for me, it is mainly our customers, ie the owners and managers of the companies to which we supply our solutions. The owners are mainly inspired by their determination. The company is theirs, they decided to fulfill some of their visions and they go for it, there is a huge difference. The passion, but at the same time a certain ease with which they can make decisions, is fascinating. In the corporate world, this is gradually disappearing, but it is all the more challenging to bring this determination and passion here as well, and even better then to manage the corporate world. Some industries face topics such as lack of capacity, generational change, motivation for change, business transformation, etc. before we in the corporate community. That is why I try to be open and perceive these impulses when meeting people, because one day I will need to deal with the same thing, as has been confirmed to me many times. It’s also one of the reasons I enjoy my job so much. SAP in the Czech Republic has 1,300 customers from all possible fields and they are companies of various sizes. It offers me an inexhaustible amount of inspiration.

Source: Courtesy of SAP

In terms of technology and digitization, what is the Czechia specific compared to abroad? Do Czech companies have different needs?

I wouldn’t say they have different needs, but I see a difference in two things. The first is the fact that in the Czech Republic we have a large number of smaller local companies operating mainly in the field of e-commerce, which generally diversifies the market. There is so much competitive environment here that brings its benefits mainly to customers. I see the second difference in the speed of technology adoption. I do not think we are more afraid of new things, but rather we have a disadvantage in the size of the market and in the critical view of the adoption of new technologies. But it is interesting that, for example, in e-commerce, we have the highest ratio of e-shops per capita in all of Europe.

It is certainly important that we still manage to keep development experts in the Czech Republic, which also applies to SAP, where we have over 700 of them in our Prague offices and in SAP Labs in Brno. This key talent in the Czech Republic is an important factor for digitization.

The pandemic has generally slowed down the business and cooled the economy. Is this also the case in SAP CR? On the contrary, in what sense was the pandemic positive for you?

For technology in general, the events surrounding the pandemic are certainly not a slowdown. We need to realize that our industry is going through short innovation cycles and the adoption of new, smart technologies is extremely fast today. Until a few years ago, concepts such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robots and their use in the operation of companies as science fiction sounded, and today a large part of our customers use them. The pandemic has given us a great opportunity to show the possibilities of technology in practice, even where they have not penetrated until then. Many customers have seen the possibility of working from home without affecting their business processes. The fact that they had partially or some even fully prepared the way for digitization allowed them to handle the whole situation. It will soon be 2 years, that’s a long time and we can already see today that some habits have changed and they will not just return to “normal”. There is a “new normal” here. I am thinking, for example, of combined work from home, cooperation of virtual teams, transition from physical to online shopping and so on. On the other hand, it’s true that after a year of shopping online, I was really looking forward to going to buy shoes or something to wear and be able to physically choose and try it out in the booth. It’s just different with fashion (laughs).

SAP is a company with a great influence on the running of the economy. Do you currently have a long-term plan for the Czechia that could help “kick” the economy?

I don’t know if I can afford to say that we have a plan to kick-start the economy, but I have already mentioned that in the Czech Republic, our solution is used by 1,300 customers. What I perceive as our role and de facto support of the Czech economy by SAP is precisely the support of our customers. The pandemic has shown us that there are areas where technology can help very quickly, whether it’s starting a new business model, opening a new sales channel, streamlining some repetitive activities, planning support and being able to react quickly to change – for example, by having companies have the right data at the right time. And I consider this my personal mission, but also the mission of the Czech SAP. We want to bring the best proven solutions from around the world and support the competitiveness of the Czech Republic.

Source: MODA.CZ – Pánská móda, dámská móda a vše ze světa módy by www.moda.cz.

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