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EU Alumni: Thomas Kaspersen
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EU Alumni: Thomas Kaspersen

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Vice President Business Operations and Processes Asia Pacific and Japan at SAP.
Management in Communication and Public Relations, 2003

So, tell us a bit about what you’re doing now.
In brief, I oversee the internal sales processes across Asia Pacific and Japan, excluding China, which includes all the sales methodologies and operational processes as well as the go-to-market strategy. The role has a strategic and execution element to it which means that I really need to be up-to-speed on market trends and at the same time support our employees and ecosystem to succeed.

What’s your opinion of living in Singapore?
It’s a beautiful country with very friendly and hardworking people. The structure is well thought out, with a nice blend of green areas and cosmopolitan lifestyle. It’s very well connected to other parts of the world and obviously Asia and most things here are state of the art.

The cultures and communities are totally unique, which makes the experience of living and working here an educational experience.

Where would you compare it to?
I don’t think I could compare it. The difference between Singapore and other countries that I have worked in is that almost everything is imported. I’ve never lived in a country where they’ve imported more than 90 percent of everything they have. Of course there are some natural resources, but they have had to build it up almost from scratch by hard work and business-savvy people.

You’re focusing on Asia Pacific and Japan; what are the differences in how business is done there versus Europe and America?
Asia Pacific and Japan is made up of multiple countries; some of these are among the most advanced countries in the world while others are emerging markets with the potential to become true leaders. The cultures and communities are totally unique, which makes the experience of living and working here an educational experience. For example, the way you conduct a business meeting in Japan is very different to how you conduct a business meeting in India. In Europe, you will have some differences, maybe between north and south, but the similarities are far greater than what I have experienced so far in Asia. It is of great importance to be cognitive and respectful of the culture and market you operate. I truly believe traveling and exploring different cultures and people enrich who we are and how we behave, but to do so, we need to be open to learn and listen.

What do you think the future holds for you?
Good question. History has shown that companies that do not innovate rapidly become outdated. In keeping with this, I believe it will be increasingly important that we as employees also innovate ourselves and make sure we stay relevant in our respective sectors and market we operate in; which is what I intend to keep doing.

What would you say has been your biggest professional achievement to date?
The fact that I’ve always been able to help to create, develop and support other people in the organization has been very satisfying. At the end of the day, the essence of business is people, therefore, being a good leader for me is about supporting and coaching to make sure they succeed. Seeing a person who you have helped to succeed is very gratifying.

companies that do not innovate rapidly become outdated.

Is there one piece of advice you would give to current EU students?
Apart from networking as much as possible, don’t get consumed by what others are doing. Focus on yourself and what you believe are your key strengths. Yes, it’s good to have role models, but it’s equally or more important to stay true to yourself and your core competences in business and social life. Create your brand, and stay true to it.