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Lastt weekend I exercised my right to vote early for our next president of the United States. I did not take this opportunity lightly, as I stood in a line for about an hour on Sunday, with 200-300 other voters as well as my two daughters. Those who know me know I like to “show” my kids important life lessons firsthand. And even though the election outcome wasn’t the one I envisioned, it still carried great significance as I wanted my daughters to witness the political process, to see how close we came to seating the first female in this office.

Voting is an important right in the US, yet many are apathetic about the process, so I do what I can to emphasize the importance of this right to my kids. We are lucky to enjoy freedom and democracy, but this week should not just be about voting.  It should also focus on thanking our military veterans.

 

Every November 11 in the US as well as the UK, we collectively honor those who have served in our armed forces to protect our respective rights and freedoms. In the US this is called Veteran’s Day, and is recognized as an official holiday by most employers, including SAP. In the UK, many citizens wear red poppies to mark Remembrance Day (also known as Armistice Day). And the entire country observes a two-minute silence at the eleventh hour of November 11 in recognition of the service men and women killed in the two world wars, as well as those who have died since 1945. I have a very strong memory of November 11, 2001, two months after the deadly US terror attacks on 9/11. On that day I was standing in a line at Heathrow Airport, waiting to check my baggage for a flight home. When the clock struck 11:00, everything in that terminal came to a standstill. It was eerie how quiet that busy airport got, and that moment of silence stays with me.

 

Military service takes a special kind of person, one willing to make the ultimate commitment to serve their country to preserve its freedoms and rights. And it’s great to work at a company that not only recognizes the holiday honoring these men and women, but also does a bit more to support veterans. I recently connected with a new contact at SAP who serves as an unofficial ambassador for veterans at our company, Richard “Rick” Knowles (@RickKnowlesSAP). Rick is a retired US Army veteran and general manager for SAP’s strategic partnership with Apple. While there’s no official count of veterans working at SAP, Rick maintains an informal network of about 200 internally, and shared with me ways we support veterans with our technology:

  • SAP has a non-profit under the National Security Service (NS2) group, which was established by our government-focused
    vertical team. This group trains military veterans for employment in high-tech careers, and to date the
    NS2 Serves program has 100 graduates.
  • In Houston, Texas, near the Ft. Hood military base, we work closely with St. Michael’s Learning Academy to provide a program for enlisted service people  interested in an information technology (IT) career to earn SAP HANA certification.

 

At SAP Ariba I've been fortunate to meet and work with some other great veterans. In our Alpharetta, Georgia, office we have three US Marine veterans working on the same team: Keaton Russell, Jason Duarte, and Tripp Russell. These great men work closely with our
suppliers, typically small businesses, so they can find success using Ariba Discovery. Each of them joined the military for a different reason, but what they took away from their service helps them keep things in perspective in daily life:

  • Tripp: “No matter how stressful I perceive a current situation to be, I appreciate the fact that the result of my current situation probably won’t get people killed.” @RussellTripp
  • Jason: “Knowing that you can push yourself a lot further than you realize.” @JasonDuarteAD
  • Keaton: “Never quit. Improvise, adapt, and overcome any and all situations presented to me, and always be the best team player that I can be!” @Russell0311

There’s no question that veterans make a huge impact worldwide—not only as the result of their military service, but also on their companies and communities. I’m honored to work with veterans in my company, but also veterans who are customers like Ken
Crouse of 487 Consulting Services and Sam Crawford from Armed Forces Construction. Sam’s main mission is to put veterans to work on his construction jobs, so they build income and new skills in their transition to civilian life.

 

Thank you, veterans, for sharing your wisdom and for all you have done to serve the country!

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Photo courtesy of Keaton Russell

 

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Photo courtesy of Tripp Russell (bottom right)