Performance without purpose is not a long-term sustainable business strategy. Purpose is demanded by customers, communities and importantly, employees. A big part of my focus is identifying how we can help our customers run at their best while providing meaningful, purpose-driven work to our people.  

The Intelligent Enterprise of the future will be led largely by millennials and Generation Z – those just entering the workplace today. A recent study by the Lovell Corporate found that Generation Z, people born between 1994 and 2001, are driven more by purpose and impact than any other demographic.  In fact, 76 per cent of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work and 93 per cent want to shop brands that have a ‘purpose beyond product’. This has big implications for businesses.  

No longer does the top talent flock to the multinational, big brand organisation that hands them the biggest paycheck. This generation, more so than those who have come before it, want to have pride in the organisation they work for, take wellness more seriously than ever and are motivated by meaningful work.  

Globally SAP is over 91,000 strong, embracing diversity and embodying openness, curiosity and an innovative spirit. But we can’t stand still. We know that the key to competing in the innovation economy are teams of people who think differently and are shaped by purposeful experiences and engaging work.  

This September marked the tenth anniversary of The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF), which exists to support the growth and development of social enterprises throughout the world, and has successfully taken place across the globe, growing each year from its start in Edinburgh, to Melbourne, San Francisco, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Calgary, Seoul, Milan and Hong Kong. 

Ahead of the event and to celebrate the anniversary, we held our annual Social Sabbatical in Edinburgh. The Social Sabbatical is a portfolio of pro-bono volunteering programmes where SAP employees are placed in highly diverse teams in markets around the world, to dedicate their skills and expertise to a unique assignment intended to support businesses that in turn will have a positive and meaningful impact on society. 

The programme helps to solve concrete business challenges for organisations, bridge the digital divide in different markets, and strengthen leadership competencies, cross industry know-how and intercultural sensitivity.  

By helping social enterprises and NGOs run better, and promoting best practice to advance social entrepreneurship, our teams are transforming how we drive technological innovation, social impact and economic growth while delivering meaningful work and experiencing new cultures, markets and challenges. 

As a business, in our industry and in wider society, we must do better by doing better. The positive impact we make should not be measured by market cap or cash in the bank, but by economic improvement and continued societal progress. Purpose sits at the very heart of this and it’s inspired and empowered employees who are driving this progress.  

I’m incredibly proud of those that get involved in programmes such as the Social Sabbatical, amongst other purpose driven initiatives at SAP – if you’d like to read more about one of the recent experiences with the Homeless World Cup – you can do here:


  • Brian Duffy

    President EMEA North at SAP

    Mr. Brian Duffy has been EMEA North Regional President of SAP SE since September 2017. A 12-year veteran of SAP, Mr. Duffy leads growth efforts for the SAP platform, applications and business networks in Great Britain, Ireland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Baltic countries.