Highlighting women in tech: meet Maria Catarina Silva, MEE Service Engagement Manager PCI, Trade and Energy at SAP SDC. Her professional journey has taken her to unexpected places – but trusting her gut has paid off
1. Please explain: what is your specific job?
My job at SAP is the role of a Service Engagement Manager for SDC (Solution Delivery Centers) Organization. SAP SDC is a global organization within SAP which delivers first-class consulting services around the globe remotely. It is part of the Services Intelligent Delivery Group, led by Augusta Spinelli. At my job, I support customers and MUs in the MEE region to meet their company needs by offering solutions based on the entire SAP Service Portfolio, be it on the Cloud or traditional onsite business. By including the SDC Consulting Team in the service set-up, scalability and quality at a competitive price are ensured, complementing the MEE architect and project management teams with delivery power, and shaping an attractive offer.
2. Your initial inspiration to enter this industry?
When I joined SAP, I used to think that my background was different from everyone else’s and it would be hard to fit in a tech company. But the more I grow in SAP, the more I understand that this is not really the case. Let me tell you a bit about my story…
I have a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. I always thought I would continue working in the chemical world. But one day I was reading the news over coffee, and I found an article about Business Intelligence. It was like finding gold for me. The concept was: we work with data and prepare it in a smart way, so that company management can make informed decisions. This was eye-opening: I was always a great student in the field of Mathematics and complex calculations, and this seemed a perfect way to use math to help business run better. By coincidence, on the same day, a Business Intelligence job was posted on my university job portal. That was the spark: I decided to apply, as my intuition was telling me that this might be the start of something good.
3. Your most exciting project to date?
My Service Engagement Manager role. It was a complete shift for me compared to consulting jobs: your accountability and responsibility are different, and the required skills too. A Service Engagement Manager requires a lot of knowledge of the SAP Services Strategy, the capacity to build and maintain a big network of people, and never-ending energy.
To excel at this job, certain communication and soft skills need to be on C-level. Glass ceilings are real; you really must be resilient and work to break them every day. Ideally, you need to know classical financial KPIs well enough to speak the customers’ language, connect with our sales colleagues and support them in identifying customer business challenges. Beyond this, you need to know SAP’s Solution and Services Portfolio very well, to be able to map the right solution and services to the customer.
4. Top skills that anyone who wants to work in tech needs?
You must have a passion for the technology world and relate to the values of the company you are applying to. If you are applying for a consultant role or product development, hard coding skills and technical skills are added value. If you don’t have them, that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn them on the job – I did. For me, soft skills are at the heart of everything we do: open communication, resilience, the capacity to build bridges across organizations, the ability to trust your peers and always keep your promises to your internal and external customers, these are some of the skills I see as key for success at any job.
5. What advice would you give to young professionals starting in tech?
At SAP, tech means software development, but it’s also much more than that. Don’t be shy, be proactive! You should be curious to broaden your horizons, find more areas that your tech company might be exploring right now. At the end of the day, I believe that what we do as our work must be something that we love and where we can bring added value. This way, achieving excellence should come naturally. Never give up on finding the best place for you in your tech company!
6. Your biggest role models?
My biggest role model is my grandmother! I never get tired of speaking about her. She has a never-ending energy – she still goes to university at 90. And she really stands by what feminism should truly mean: “I am an independent person (who happens to be a woman), who promotes equality and accepts everyone independently of their gender, culture, religion or age. I believe in myself and my inner power to achieve great things if I work for them.”
7. People or media to follow?
I am huge fan of Bill and Melinda Gates, their foundation and all the work they do in underdeveloped countries. I hope I get to meet them one day. My favorite podcasts are by Brené Brown: Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead.