Great Minds Think Tech: Jeremy Chao @ SAP

Great Minds Think Tech: Jeremy Chao @ SAP

By: liesl
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Performing in a theatre troupe, dressing up like a Ghostbuster, giving out soup to the homeless –not what typically comes to mind when you think about working in the tech sector. But for Jeremy Chao, 3rd year Communication Co-op student, they were some of the most rewarding parts of his three Co-op terms at SAP.

What is SAP, you ask? It’s only the third largest tech company in the world! You may not have heard of it, but you likely have interacted with it, as SAP’s main products are enterprise software, helping to run businesses behind the scenes. SAP’s Vancouver office takes up an entire city block in Yaletown and houses more than 1200 employees, mostly in software development. And that’s only in Vancouver. SAP actually employs more than 66,500 employees in 130 countries around the world, with its head offices in Germany.

But how on earth do you keep up to date with 66, 500 people? Well, that’s what Jeremy helped to figure out.  As a Communications Specialist, his responsibility was to keep the Vancouver staff connected and in the know about what was going on at SAP. He wrote and edited for weekly e-newsletters, maintained the staff intranet, and developed posters and digital signage for the building. One of the bigger projects was organizing the “All- Hands meetings” – a quarterly event which brought together all of the staff to hear from the senior executive team. Working directly with the highest execs to prepare presentations and videos, he could have been intimidated, but came to realize they were all just real people working on a common goal.

Both on the job and after hours, Jeremy was able to learn both hard and soft skills. He says that the key to getting the most out of a work term is to be “vocal about your goals and aspirations – at the end of the day, the company and your manager are there to help you.” For example, Jeremy honed his editorial writing, technical design skills and learned to create and edit videos, which he had never done before. He rose to the challenge, picking up the skills by watching online tutorials, and also approaching co-workers who could teach him. More than his technical side, he came to understand the nuances of corporate communication and corporate culture. Jeremy notes, “I now know what I need to do to gain visibility, to network effectively . . . I’ve learned that [office politics] is talking to the right people so that when something does come up, you’re the first in line.” On top of the work-related skills, he took advantage of his time at SAP to get involved with company activities like the theatre group, Hallowe’en event, charity days, and more! 

Would he want to return to SAP? Absolutely! However, he is aware that more opportunities for marketing and communications roles are likely outside of Vancouver. Wanting to stay in town, he is keen to navigate the local tech sector.

Interested in working in the tech sector? Jeremy’s advice is to network, network, network. He had the good fortune of knowing the previous student in this role, and had met other SAP staff that may have put in a good word for him when applying. But he also notes that he was not overly technical or knowledgeable about SAP before applying, so he encourages all students, regardless of background, to consider the tech sector.  

Posted on May 16, 2014