By Marina Ezzat
Translated by Taha Sakr
In 2020, Hoda Mansour, Managing Director of SAP (Egypt), was included in the list of Forbes Middle East as one of the 100 Powerful Businesswomen in the Middle East. In 2018, Forbes Middle East included Hoda Mansour in the list of the most powerful women in the Middle East.
Engineer Hoda Mansour was the first woman in Egypt to be appointed to lead a multinational software company. In 2013, she joined SAP – the world’s No.1 cloud business software company Since then, Hoda Mansour played a pivotal role in supporting the company’s development strategy and its presence in the Middle East and North Africa region, and particularly in, Egypt, athe Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Currently, Hoda Mansour is considered to be among the 50 most powerful women in Egypt.
Leaders KSA magazine interviewed engineer Hoda Mansour about her journey, challenges, the future of SAP, and the steps taken to achieve high-quality results through the use of technology.
M.E. Please tell us about your journey, challenges you have faced, and Forbes ranking.
H.M. First and foremost, I want to express my great pride in being ranked by Forbes Middle East among the 100 most powerful businesswomen in the region. This title is an achievement I am proud of since it confirms the power of women entrepreneurs in Egypt.
Reflecting on my career and experience, I would like to note that I have been working in multinational and regional multinational high technology companies for more than 20 years. I lived and worked on three continents: in Africa, Europe, and Asia. I managed to lead various teams in a highly competitive work environment. I was the first woman in the entire region of the Middle East and North Africa region to be appointed as Managing Director of SAP.
Currently, I am focusing my position on strengthening the regional presence and improvement strategy of SAP, expanding the business opportunities and workforce in both Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean countries.
M.E. In your opinion, how has technology facilitated the growth and prosperity of entrepreneurship?
H.M. New ideas are now based on technology to drive growth. Given the current situation around the world, it becomes clear that the use of technology has become absolutely essential since technology and its capabilities have enabled many entrepreneurs to develop their products and services to support their communities.
In this context, the SAP Institute for Training and Development seeks to strengthen the partnerships that bring together various commercial and academic circles to support workforce development and prepare it for the future.
Since 2012, the Institute has brought $ 237 million to the gross domestic product of the Middle East and North Africa region. On the other hand, more than 2,720 university graduates who are affiliated with the SAP Young Professionals Program have received company certification to become SAB-certified assistant consultants.
It is noteworthy that 99% of them could find work in our system of cooperation between partners and clients. Moreover, the Winnovate program of SAP provided support to more than 4,420 individuals and companies to enable them to release their capabilities in innovative technology.
M.E. What do you think of the constant conflict between humankind and technology, more specifically robots? Do you believe that robots will soon win and replace the employees?
H.M. What I do believe, is that we need a world of “advanced humanity” where smart devices work in harmony with people, not in competition with them.
Digital transformation can free humanity from hazardous or repetitive tasks, ensuring that they focus on creative activity and generate value that only humankind can achieve. This way, they will succeed in educating professionals on the next wave of digital transformation.
M.E. Is the use of artificial intelligence productive for all professions without exception?
H.M. To answer this question, let me provide some numbers. According to a YouGov survey, IT managers, directors, and decision-makers in the Middle East, including 83% from Saudi Arabia and 76% from the UAE, agree on the importance of integrating artificial intelligence and e-learning in many sectors.
Besides, according to research prepared by SAP in collaboration with Oxford Economics, more than 70% of digital companies in the Middle East and North Africa region use IT technologies. Last but not least, the use of artificial intelligence will support almost all professions that will be practiced by humanity in the future.
M.E. Can you discuss the technologies that SAP uses to support its customers, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia?
H.M. SAP is committed to supporting the concept of digital transformation at the national level, especially with the creation of local cloud data centers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In Egypt, we share innovations with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of State Business, and the Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources. At the regional level, we partner with Dubai Expo 2020 to enrich visitors’ knowledge and experience in innovation and technology.
Discussing our cooperation with Saudi Arabia, I would like to emphasize that SAP and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia work closely. This is a unique partnership called “smart hajj,” aimed at enriching the pilgrims’ travel experience.
M.E. What are the advantages of SAP store?
H.M. The list of SAP solutions includes the SAP S / 4HANA Business Solutions package, the SAP cloud-based business transaction platform, and the SAP C / 4HANA package for customer experience solutions.
Along with the SAP HANA platform for memory-based computing, the business networking portfolio includes Ariba Procurement, parallel cost management, and Fieldglass solutions for managing external vendor relationships.
M.E. Thinking about the future and development of cooperation with the world’s largest companies, what are the key performance indicators that allow SAP to build the right expectations?
H.M. There are many promising opportunities for growth in the various areas of Egypt’s industry, that is currently being digitally converted to smart assets.
Thus, the current list includes 25 main sectors. Of these, the most critical areas supported and maintained by SAP technologies are oil and gas, service facilities, the public sector, retail, travel and leisure, industry, consumer goods, real estate, and medical services, as well as financial and banking services of the Middle East and North Africa region.
In addition, we offer a set of flexible solutions to meet the needs of small and medium enterprises and allow them to grow, applying the best global practices at the industry level.
M.E. Please discuss the capacities and functions of innovative technologies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. How do innovative technologies maintain quality performance during these lockdowns?
H.M. One circumstance that has become apparent with the development of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic is that Egyptian companies should make effective decisions to change and improve supply chain structure, procurement, travel, and medical examination procedures, as well as to widen the possibilities of remote work. The main aim of these changes and improvements is to ensure business continuity.
The open technology offered by SAP helps Egyptian and international companies meet these global challenges, work more efficiently, and increase the positive impact on individuals and societies’ daily lives.
We strive to work with various sectors in the business community to maintain business continuity, especially because some industries are beginning to return to their business gradually.
M.E. Can you discuss some extra services offered by SAP to the business community amid COVID-19?
H.M. During this global crisis and the fight against COVID-19, Ernst & Young, SAP and Qualtrics joined forces to provide government agencies with a full range of services and solutions to meet the basic needs of the pandemic, including:
- COVID-19 online questionnaire developed by Qualtrics for pre-examination and guidance.
- Covid-19 Call Center text changer by Qualtrics aimed to assist government agencies in establishing specialized call centers.
- The Pulse of the Healthcare Workforce was initiated by Qualtrics to monitor the health status of health care providers and front-line workers.
- The Critical Care Protocol has been dissolved, enabling health government agencies to recognize early critical care situations and high-risk patients.
M.E. What would you recommend to a small business? What technologies can they rely on to create a successful project?
H.M. With the adoption of the concept known as the “economy of experience” in the Middle East, companies and institutions are no longer only required to provide products and solutions but are also required to provide an improved and more productive experience. We enable companies to digitally turn into “smart facilities” that can listen, understand, and act based on customers’ beliefs, intentions, and expectations.
Therefore, we invite small enterprises to work with knowledgeable and specialized partners who can direct their path to digital transformation and provide solutions that best suit their business needs.