Passing the leadership torch in the SAP Chemical Industry Business Unit

Following 6 years of leadership under Dr. Thorsten Wenzel, SAP has recently appointed Matt Reymann to take over as Global Vice President of the Industry Business Unit (IBU) Chemicals.  Matt brings 10 years of industry experience in various business supply chain roles and, most recently, as part of the IBU after joining SAP in 2019.  I had a chance to sit down with Matt to share his view on the role and perspective of the chemical industry.

Matt, thanks for sitting down with me now that you are a couple months into the new role.  How did your journey lead you to this position?

Hi Monica, thanks for the question.  The first few months have really flown by!  Let me start by saying I have had the pleasure of working at SAP for the last 3 years, where I started in the Chemical IBU and now, of course leading the team.  My journey started in the chemical industry and ultimately shifted to software.  If you had asked me 10 years ago after graduating if I would end up in IT, I probably would not have predicted that outcome.  Still, it didn’t take me long to realize that the intersection of business and technology is the ultimate enabler.  This passion for chemicals and technology led me to SAP.  So, stepping off the plant floor (literally) to joining SAP and now leading the chemical team is a testament to the strategic importance of industries and the value we put in looking at technology from the perspective of our customers.

I graduated from the University of Maryland (go Terps!) with a supply chain and operations management degree. Then I had the chance to work in several different supply chain roles in a couple notable companies.  Technology was front and center, where I worked with advanced planning systems and even supported the roll-out of a new ERP system.  I have seen firsthand the value of bringing people, processes, and systems together to drive business value, and for the last few years have been working with companies all over the world on their digital transformation journey.  I couldn’t be more excited to represent chemicals in SAP, lead a top-notch team, and work with amazing colleagues worldwide who are committed to driving success of the industry.

What were the essential experiences that helped prepare you for success in this position?

My experience in the industry and exposure to technology in a business function was super important.  It’s amazing how this experience is so useful, putting myself in our customers’ shoes and supporting industry-led discussions.  This is what matters to our customers, and at SAP, we make sure we understand the pulse of the industry to partner and collaborate with our customers as trusted advisors.  I have also had the opportunity for very diverse experiences, working in different roles, companies, and locations.  These were often changes that put me out of my comfort zone but having that breadth of experience within the chemical vertical, including my time at SAP, has given me a solid foundation to look at the industry holistically.

And maybe the most important part is people.  I have had the chance to work with and learn from talented and experienced people who are passionate about what they do.  Throughout my career, I have always emphasized learning more than any specific career progression.  A huge piece of this is being surrounded by experienced colleagues who are not only willing to share their knowledge but who want to see you grow.  A network of colleagues, partners, mentors, coaches, and sponsors has made a difference and will continue to help me prepare for success in any position.

As head of the Chemical IBU, you and your team are the faces of Chemicals in SAP.  What are the key elements of being a successful leader?

 

Be kind.  Seriously, it goes a long way to being genuinely nice.  That’s a good place to start.  You also hear me talk a lot about accountability.  To me, a culture of accountability goes well beyond tasks and responsibilities and is when everyone is aligned with the team vision and can articulate how they personally add value.  Then it is about empowering the team and creating an entrepreneurial spirit to find new ways to create value.  Another important element I recently learned from Lior Zoref  is the notion of collective intelligence, a critical dimension of leadership.  It’s extremely important that we leverage the collective voice of all our stakeholders in the chemical community to amplify and drive the priorities that move the needle for our customers.  We thrive as a team.  And to hit one additional topic, maybe the most important of them all is trust.  As I said, we must understand the pulse of the industry by being part of the industry community and an extension of our customers.  This partnership is built on trust.

What energizes you about working with/for the chemical industry?

 

This year we celebrate SAP’s 50th anniversary.  SAP’s first customer was in the chemical industry, and today 99 of the top 100 chemical customers run SAP.  This is exciting, right?  But what really motivates me is the next 50 years and beyond.  According to the American Chemistry Council, 96 % of all manufactured goods are touched by the business of chemistry.  This industry is essential to modern-day life, and this is an industry that will shape our future to lead healthier, safer, sustainable, and more productive lives.  We get the chance to work with industry leaders every day who are innovating and transforming, and working to take their organization to the next level.  To help these companies run better and enable mission-critical business processes in an industry that’s part of the very fabric of our lives is very cool!

Matt, thanks for sharing some words with us.  If our readers want to connect with you or anyone else in the chemical team, where can they go?

Our virtual door is always open!  You can reach me directly at matt.reymann@sap.com, and I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn.  I would also encourage you to check out the SAP Community Expert Page and the SAP Chemicals landing page, which provides excellent resources.  We especially invite you to get engaged with the chemical community.  A great way to do it is through our user groups and events.  We have two big events coming up this year, including our International SAP Conference and the ASUG Best Practices for Chemicals conference.  Hope to see you there!