Torie Clarke, SAP

Torie Clarke

Transformational Change

Editors’ Note

Torie Clarke has held her current post since July 2013. She was previously Senior Communications and Government Affairs Adviser at Comcast since 2004. Prior to that, she was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and Pentagon spokesperson under U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Clarke also served as Press Secretary for former President George H.W. Bush’s 1992 reelection campaign; an adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); an assistant U.S. trade representative during the first Bush administration; and GM of Hill & Knowlton’s Washington, D.C. office.

Company Brief

As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (sap.com) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, and desktop to mobile device, SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of competition. SAP applications and services enable nearly 300,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. SAP is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and NYSE.

What excited you about this opportunity at SAP and made you feel it would be the right fit?

SAP is at a very unique moment in its history and in the broader context of where the industry is going. There are tremendous opportunities if we transform appropriately. SAP can not only be the leader in the industry but can take the industry in new and different directions that it hasn’t even considered yet.

I’m less interested in companies that are hugely successful and happy where they are. Start-ups are attractive but it’s a specific kind of activity. This is a much bigger challenge.

From an employee perspective, do you feel that an adequate understanding of this transformation is in place?

Increasingly so. The biggest challenge when dealing with a huge transformational progression is making sure employees really understand what’s happening. The most successful organizations are those in which the people really grasp the mission and intent. It’s the responsibility of leadership to convey that, so they understand their role in it.

When you’re going through this type of transformational change, does it ever end?

No. Transformation might not be the right word because it indicates an end state. We can’t even define our industry when it comes to the changes that have occurred over the past 10 years. We’re not really sure where this is going but we know we want to be at the head of it, which means we have to embrace the notion of change as the constant, and that’s hard. It’s less about transformation and more about transforming.

How do you define your role and how important is it that that role is such a part of business strategy now?

One thing I really enjoy is helping people move outside their comfort zones. It’s important to build and maintain meaningful relationships with the right policy makers around the world, and that takes time and digging in deep with them. I’m good at helping people move into those areas they might not be comfortable in.

The second focus is integration. The most successful organizations are the ones in which they fully integrate the relevant parts and pieces of the company. I try to fully integrate the substance of the business with the other parts and pieces that are important to success now, so integration is a really important part of what I’m trying to drive.•