Lloyd Adams, recently appointed President, SAP North America, has a focus on engagement within the organization and the accelerated need of customers prioritizing cloud investment. In a recent conversation, he shared what he’s learned in the first few months of his role.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Karen Walker: Congratulations on your new position as President of North America for SAP. Why did you decide to take this role?
Lloyd Adams: I’m quite honored to take the helm of this part of the company. SAP is a significant global company, but North America is the battleground for our market.
We serve 163,000 companies here in North America alone. We have over 27,000 employees, and over 5,000 developers and operate a vibrant business servicing companies of all sizes in every market.
It’s a dream come true to be here now. Although I’ve been with the company for 25 years, in some respects, I feel like I’m just getting started.
Walker: How have the first few months been?
I’ve spent the last three months on a listening tour. I get out in the markets and meet as many of our customers as possible. But as importantly, I spend time with our partners and our employees to get a sense of the strategy and direction we need.
Walker: On your listening tour, what did you learn?
Adams: First, and most importantly, from our customers’ perspective, our clients are counting on us to help them with this pivot to the cloud. We’ve never seen the need so high.
The last couple of years were exciting on so many fronts. We saw the degree to which so many organizations we work with have leaned into digitization. With the cloud, we must be present and help with that successful deployment and adoption.
Walker: Have you deployed something that you’re particularly proud of in the last 90 days?
Adams: I had the good fortune of stepping in for someone who was such an incredible leader and took the business to great heights. I wasn’t coming into a situation where things needed a complete turnaround. I have tried to make the people my main agenda.
It’s a very competitive marketplace. I am proud of all the things that SAP gets to do and represents in the market, but we’re not the only game in town. We’re trying hard, even in these chaotic, turbulent times, to put a premium on the employee experience.
We’re doing this not just through the lens of sales and marketing but through all the different functions we have represented here. We want to make people feel a part of something special, with an amplified focus on things like diversity, inclusion and return to the office.
Walker: What are you sensing in terms of what might be coming up in 2023?
Adams: One of the things that stands out is when you look at the organizations that decided to invest in digital transformations versus those who didn’t. The companies that invested in digital have a greater ability to innovate and be agile than the organizations that didn’t digitize.
Leaders of companies must consider: what are the set of programs and transformations that get prioritized for digitization? How do we make the case for change for those with some predispositions, whether on the executive leadership team or on the board of directors?
In my opinion, companies need to button up what that case for change is. It’s even more paramount than it’s been in the past.
Walker: Part of your central vision is helping customers get into this digital/cloud era, but, in particular, allowing your customers to look at multi-cloud as a growth catalyst.
Adams: SAP is in an enviable position in that we have many ways in which clients can do business with us. They can work with everything from our traditional on-premise business, to public cloud offerings. Some companies require a more hybrid offering including a private cloud scenario.
Given the vastness of the spaces that we cover, you’ll always see a unique palette for our clients so that we can service them in a way that makes sense for them. This type of versatility for our customers is a huge focus for us right now.
Walker: I’d like to talk a little bit about you. You’ve been at SAP since 1998. Having spent 14 years of my career at one company, I can understand that staying with a company for this long is not all that common. What drove your decision to remain at SAP?
Adams: It’s the company culture, the people, both inside the company as well as our customers and partners, and the array of opportunities that exist here.
I’ve taken a path that has led me to do different stints in various capacities throughout the company. I’ve done everything from consulting with our clients and implementing the product way back when I first joined, to working in our marketing organization. It’s been a remarkable journey because SAP allows one to explore not what might be above them, but also to the side or diagonal.
Walker: And having started out as a consultant, you could now be the poster child for long-term career development at the company!
The tagline for my consulting business is “up and to the right” because that’s the spot on the two-by-two matrix where we always want to be. Was there a moment or an event in your career when you knew that you were going to be the successful leader you are today?
Adams: The thing that immediately springs to my mind is an opportunity presented to me about 15 years ago. At the time, I was in our marketing organization here in North America, but I was offered the opportunity to go over to Singapore and be one of the leaders of our regional marketing team in APAC.
It was supposed to be a two-year assignment, but within the first six months, we added a year after it became so apparent to all involved that the region was such a massive part of the world that two years was not enough time.
I was fortunate to curate an experience like that and understand as a relatively young person at that time how big the world really is. Through the different cultures, languages and the degree of difficulty with getting things accomplished, we all left ten times better than when we arrived.
The benefit came more to those of us who were fortunate enough to go over there, which is why this experience sticks out for me. And as a bonus, it wasn’t just fun for me but for my whole family. It was a truly unique experience and a part of our life that we’ll never forget, both personally and professionally. It represented a turning point in my career.