Social Sabbaticals: How to become a leader by not working

A survey in the UK confirmed that 84% of ‘Millenials’ would prioritize creating a positive impact in the world than career advancement.

A survey in the UK confirmed that 84% of ‘Millenials’ would prioritize creating a positive impact in the world than career advancement-one could argue that this a shift from the goals of preceding generations. This shift in trend is credited to a larger shift in thought patterns and view, or to be more specific, how we perceive success.

Shifting Trends in the Corporate World

Corporate officials have gone on record saying that a major concern underlying their recruitment strategies is not talent acquisition, as the market is already buzzing with several qualified (and even overqualified) young men and women, but of zeroing doing on youth who can prove to be global leaders. This shift largely owes to the rapidly changing economic power dynamics.

According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, “CEOs are concerned about finding employees who can adapt to new, fast-developing markets in Africa and Asia. Over the next year, 74 percent of CEOs expect to pursue opportunities in Africa.” Companies across the world are hence focussing their energy in devising various policies and programs that would reflect its willingness to provide a space for young talent to hone their managerial and leadership skills, providing them with the satisfaction of creating a positive social impact, along with the opportunity of tweaking their individual career graphs.

SAP’s program to assist NGOs in emerging economies

In a bid to adapt itself to the changing strategies of talent scouting, SAP has started ‘Social Sabbatical Program’- a program that has fast established SAP as a pioneer in the field of CSR and employee engagement.

This ingeniously crafted program provides a unique opportunity for the company’s high performing employees to visit emerging economies such as South Africa, India, Brazil, and China. During these pro bono assignments, employees support entrepreneurs, NGOs, and government agencies, with the aim of positively impacting the regions economically and socially; they also gain a better understanding of how to effectively operate in these geographies.”

Developed in partnership with PYXERA Global, the program strives to solve business challenges, specifically for the education and entrepreneurial sectors in emerging markets. A month is spent with the host which is conductive in developing new skillsets and approaches various operational challenges.

In April earlier this year, SAP announced the completion of the third round of its social sabbatical programme in India. A group of 12 SAP employees from China, USA, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Japan, Argentina and Dubai worked with four non-profit organisations and social ventures in Mumbai to help solve their pressing organisational challenges and set them up for sustainable growth.

In Mumbai, the SAP Social Sabbatical team worked with Edubridge Learning, Mumbai Mobile Creches, Paaduks and UnLtd India to help them solve some of their biggest business challenges in the areas of expansion, administration, sales, marketing and controlling. According to The Economic Times, as of 2014, the program has activated 304,800 pro-bono service hours by 127 employees from 31 nations, across 40 organisations worldwide.

SAP’s Local Social Sabbatical aims at providing an innovative learning opportunity for SAP employees to contribute their time and talent to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses in emerging markets. Small teams of select high-potential SAP employees will bring their specific expertise in areas such as strategy, marketing, IT, finance, consulting or legal to nonprofit organizations, government agencies or educational institutions to help solve pressing business or organizational issues.

The-SAP-pro-bono-team-for-Bal-Utsav-2015 Source


A unique way to contribute to rural development-SBI Youth For India Fellowship

The program at SAP is however not the only program of its kind. SBI’s Youth For India Fellowship allows young talent to work at the grassroots level and create sustainable systems to ensure development and impact. The program however is not exclusive to the employees of the bank but is open for all college graduates who wish to invest their entrepreneurial skills towards rural development to apply.

Launched in March 2011 in partnership with several NGOs of high reputation, the fellowshipprovides a framework for India’s bright young minds to join hands with rural communities, empathize with their struggles and connects with their aspirations. The selected fellows, mostly from the urban background and from some of the top institutes/corporates work with experienced NGOs on challenging grass root development projects.”


The fellowship beings with the selected fellow planning a project, defining the expected outcomes and laying the roadmap to achieve it, with guidance of the mentors from partner NGOs. This program has been a once in a lifetime experience for every fellow. Somil Daga, a VIT alumnus and an SBI Youth for India Fellow worked on a project to generate electricity in an interior village in Bihar. Somil installed a solar system which utilises Direct Current (DC) to provide electricity. Since it is a decentralised system, it is much easier to maintain. The villagers pay a meagre rupees two per day to avail the service.

As we near the end of this year and prepare ourselves to enter the second half of this decade, we continue bearing witness to endless shifts, turns and developments. Departing from a mindset which promoted only self growth and advancement, we are moving towards a more inclusive policy that includes the progression of not only our own goals and careers, but also the downtrodden and less advantage. In the coming years thus, we can expect to see programs akin to the SBI Youth For India Fellowship and the overseas volunteer program of SAP that utilises individual talent to the benefit of several.



Literature student. Part time journalist. Harbouring crazy dreams of changing the world since 1993. more


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Literature student. Part time journalist. Harbouring crazy dreams of changing the world since 1993. more

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