Global Vice President
"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen." [Michael Jordan]. According to Dr Christoph Schroeder this quote sums up his approach to the role as Global Vice President, Retail Industry Business Unit at SAP.
The former international sportsman, who represented Germany in table tennis, has been with SAP for 15 years and is responsible for the strategy of SAP’s solutions, developing the roadmap, fostering executive level relationships with customers and partners. He is also positioning SAP’s solutions with IT influencers and the press.
“A key focus of my work is consulting and the conceptual design of IT strategies and process optimisation,” said Schroeder, who is also the Chief Solution Owner for Fashion, and is based in the Walldorf office of SAP SE.
Referring to the quote from iconic basketball player Michael Jordan, Schroeder said: “I like that quote because it not only reflects my leadership style, it also describes my working attitude. In the early days of my career I did a PhD in parallel to my professional responsibilities at SAP. And that was only possible with having a clear focus on execution and also the end goal in mind.
“I was also a semi-professional athlete in table tennis which is tough competition. You can only succeed if you have the mentality and to constantly expand the limits. That's why from a leadership perspective my goal is to elevate others, helping colleagues, customers and partners, to be successful - when they are successful it means that I have made an impact,” he said.
Schroeder has held a number of positions with SAP from being the Co-Founder of SAP Fashion Council to Chief Solution Owner & GMT Officer Fashion. “In recent years, I helped a large number of global retail and fashion companies on the implementation of corporate strategies with the help of IT, including suppliers of sports goods, luxury fashion and fast fashion.
“I have built extensive experience in the conception and design of retail-specific software solutions. The solutions, assembled by my team are used by the world's leading companies in the industry. I became an expert in organising and implementing digitisation strategies. Over the past few years, I have been involved in a variety of outstanding projects based on far-reaching change approaches that have enabled retail and fashion companies to be relevant and successful,” he said.
By being at the forefront of fashion - with its high turnover of seasonal trends - has helped Schroeder in other industries. “Fashion companies need to find a balance between creativity and structure to succeed - but they have been the forerunner with their accelerated cycles. This pattern has also shaped my approach to how I work with other industries and customers.”
Citing a business leader he admires, Schroeder named Jim Hagemann Snabe, the former co-CEO of SAP AG who is now nominated Chairman Siemens AG (D), who he heard him tell delegates at a meeting, ‘God gave us two ears and only one mouth’.
“That sort of stuck with me as listening is such an important skill to become an effective leader,” said Schroeder.
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“For me, we're so much more than a large technology company. There's a responsibility on us as a strategic partner to nations, and as a partner to governments.”