Breakout Session

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August 10th at 3:30PM CST in Capitol Ballroom A

Global Vice President Field Transformation & Readiness at

More than Words and KPIs: How to Harness Psychological Safety to Create a Culture and DE&I Movement that People Actually Believe in 

by Rae Kyriazis (She/Her)

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Presentation Description

  • Blogger

In 2019, the Austria and New Zealand (ANZ) Market Unit at SAP—one of the world’s largest software companies—was looking at an unprecedented rate of women and young people leaving the organization. The Executive leaders knew they needed to take action. Many focus groups later, the reason became clear: There was little to no psychological safety in the hierarchal and controlling culture, and people didn’t feel they could be themselves or take risks without repercussions. For the next year, ANZ leadership talked about shifting the culture to be more inclusive and established new KPIs, however—similar to many failed culture initiatives—the behavior stayed the same and so did the team’s performance and attrition rate. Employees weren’t bought into it.

 

In late 2020, the team interviewed several high-profile culture “gurus” to help transform the ANZ team’s culture, as well as one scrappy, little internal team (SAP’s Field Transformation & Readiness (FTR) team) that had built a reputation inside the company for using its Ignite Your Power journey to create culture change where there is none by getting in the trenches with teams to create a psychologically safe space to get at the root of cultural challenges. Recognizing they needed change that would sustain beyond an external contract as well as change agents who truly understood the SAP culture, ANZ leadership chose the FTR team.

 

In less than one year, the ANZ team is already seeing powerful results in improved performance, higher employee engagement, and reduced attrition. This presentation will explain how the FTR team built a psychologically safe culture by securing strong executive ownership, creating cross-functional momentum, and infusing greater empathy, above-the-line leadership, growth mindset, self-awareness, and collective intelligence in the team.

Three Takeaways:

  1. Learn how to plant the seeds of a cultural and DE&I revolution by connecting with people’s hearts and minds and getting them to latch onto the idea that there’s a better way.

  2. In a status quo environment, discover how to create a psychologically safe culture where vulnerability, authenticity, and empathy are at the foundation of everyday conversations.

  3. Gain tips for accelerating learning and engagement by gaining executive sponsorship, activating multipliers, and harnessing experiential and peer-to-peer coaching and mentoring.

 

Speaker Bio:

With over 20 years’ experience as both a top selling sales professional and a trained life coach who studied with Stephen Covey, and 7 years leading a global, award-winning, first-of-its-kind multigenerational culture transformation program at a Fortune 500 software company, Rae Kyriazis is equal parts “corporate rainmaker” and “human whisperer.” Rae’s years spent in high pressure results-driven organizations, coupled with her coaching practice, have given her the unique advantage as a cultural catalyst who has the credibility and authenticity to relate to teams in distress and the skills to help them realize their potential.

 

Leading the Field Transformation & Readiness team at SAP, Rae is called on by top executives to transform some of the company’s most challenging status quo cultures. By taking a deeply individualized long-term approach to culture transformation and pioneering learning techniques focused on adaptive human skills, growth mindset, and collective intelligence, Rae has been able to turn underperforming teams with high turnover into top-performing teams that people love to work with and for.

 

In 2014, Rae was asked to take on her self-described “opportunity of a lifetime” and establish the first-ever global sales training academy at SAP to break old molds at the company and infuse diverse, early talent into the organization. Since then, Rae has led the recruiting, training, and integration of 1,300 young professionals into the sales force in 70 countries across the globe, decreasing the average age of the sales force by 7 years and increasing women in sales by 4%. Graduates of the award-winning SAP Academy—which represents the largest investment in talent in SAP’s history—are bringing innovation to SAP’s customers and outperforming seasoned sales professionals. 

 

Rae, a relentless optimist, is passionate about unleashing potential both for businesses and for the people who make them work.

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