“Thank you for changing my life. Lives are hard to change. “
-Alan, Russian Doll
If you’re wondering who Shalini Mitha is, the headline of this post sums it up – and she wrote it herself – in 2019, amid an email thread. To know her is to love her, and for those of us contributing to this post, it’s been difficult because contemplating an SAP without her is nearly incomprehensible.
How incomprehensible? How many leaders inspire a person to mash up a melody of songs in their honor? Tim Porterfield’s tribute to our queen sums up years and years of shared memories:
Leader, mentor, friend: Shalini Mitha
Nobody needs reminders about change being the only constant – the whole world knows that all too well today.
Despite the fact that time will keep moving forward and life will go on, sometimes there are moments that demand we address them, for not doing so is an affront to time itself.
This is one of those times.
Career paths change, teams and businesses reorganize, directions shift. What makes work palatable – or not – is often the people we work with. Hearing that Shalini was moving on to The Next Big Thing was earth-shaking; for many of us, she’s been not only our very own Madam Vice President – she’s been our colleague, our mentor, our friend.
She’s been flowers arriving on a day when you’re scared.
Praise given at a moment when you’re low.
A hand offered when you’re grasping for a ledge to hold onto – we talk a lot about leadership at work, but Shalini embodies it.
And that’s why we all felt compelled to put together a small token of our appreciation – because while it isn’t goodbye, it’s still a moment in time that will be a marker for many of us: a before and after of sorts.
🎼 You wake up, flawless
Post up, flawless
Our rock, flawless 🎼
“Thanks so much for being a great colleague and leader – besides being a great boss, you’re a wonderful human being and I enjoyed traveling around the world with you and just hanging out – like this fun night in Barcelona before you went to Majorca with your friend! I’m sure this is not goodbye – the world is too small and I’m looking forward to seeing you again in a foreign destination – hopefully at the bar 😊 Good luck on your next adventure!” – John Fisher
“I’ve had mentors and coaches throughout my career, but Shalini has been the first to personally invest in championing my career in a meaningful way, opening new doors for my future. There is no way to properly express my gratitude for her guidance and support.” – Cindy Beauchamp
“Shalini, you welcomed me and the team with open arms and made our transition after our acquisition a wonderful experience. I will always appreciate your ability to manage getting the work done with making sure people maintain a strong work/life balance. You lead with heart and strength that is so appreciated by everyone. I loved working for and with you over the last few years and hope we will be able to work together again some day in the future.” – Jennifer Kling
“I’m thankful each day that I work for SAP. I’ve been so fortunate to have good leaders, but Shalini, you’ll be remembered as a great leader! If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we’re part of a family, group, and culture that’s far beyond the 4-walls we live in – each day, each call, each opportunity with you has made me feel part of something bigger, and always welcome.
Thank you for the spirit you bring and the wonderful culture you’ve created – we’re so fortunate for having had you as our leader. I’m better for it as professional and will be thankful for your fabulous examples of leadership, which I’ll use many times over. I wish you such happiness in the next journey. With love,” – Allyson Moore
🎼 We’ll send a fully armed battalion
To remind you of our love 🎼
“Shalini is that wonderful combination of a great leader and a truly kind, compassionate person. Always caring, always inspiring. Simply the best. Thanks for everything Shalini! I’m so grateful to have been on your team; I only wish it had been longer. Wishing you all the best.” – Marcy Yusavage
“I have had so many managers that they can all blur together, but Shalini is a standout. Why? Because in everything she does, she cares greatly for her team, fights for them, and is a wonderful person who always stands for the people she cares about.
She continued to support me and invest in my career growth even when we were on separate teams – she’s genuinely one of the loveliest people (inside and out) that I’ve had the privilege to know. Shalini, I know you’re going to be a bright light everywhere you go. Thank you for all you’ve done. I love you!” – Lisa James
“It’s been great working with you! I am just sorry that our paths at SAP did not cross until last year, and that I was only able to report directly to you for a brief period. You were a breath of fresh air in our group, both highly professional and a lot of fun. Your strong leadership has made all the difference over the last couple of years. Your new company will be lucky to have you! Best,” – Chris Hall
“Laughing, family, ‘you never walk alone’. These are the first things that pop in my mind when thinking of working in your team.
It has been an amazing time and I am very grateful for that opportunity and the time I was allowed to be a part of your ‘family’. CX will not be the same without you and I will truly miss you. I wish you all the best on your next career journey. I hope we meet again at the next event? Bar? Dance Floor??? See you soon,” – Melanie Fischer
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have met you and for the opportunity to be part of your team. You have been a consistent source of guidance and support over the last several years – a voice of reason no matter how chaotic the pace! You’ve built an amazing culture of kindness, collaboration and respect through your own example and helped make this team a great place to work. I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss you. I’ll be thinking of you and hoping that you’re doing well and happy! Thank you, thank you, for being you.” – Audrey McNichols
🎼 Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree? 🎼
“Joining a new work place is never easy, but with the right people the workplace becomes a family. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a family member, but all we can do is wish them all the best and amazing success. Shalini, for me personally, you will always be my hero. I will never forget your kindness welcoming me into the SAP Hybris family. You let go of your own needs and extended your approved US based headcount to ensure I stay with the team.
Not only are you an amazing leader, a motivational professional, an understanding friend, but to me your human touch, putting people ahead of anything, is what makes you a superstar. I am honored to have had the chance to meet you in person, work with you, and of course share the after-event get-together moments with you and our team.
Wishing continuous great successes on your future journey. ” – Hani Mansouri
“I always have mixed feelings whenever I hear somebody leaves SAP – especially if the person is someone I rely on. Of course I’m so happy for you for your new adventure, but am so sad to be losing a great mentor, leader, coworker, and friend.
You’ve been a great mentor – a want-to-be person for me. With all the changes that we’ve been going through at work, and the frustration and stress that we had to deal with, you’ve been always calm, fair, and honest – and always stayed very professional. By watching how you deal with problems or situations, I really learned a lot about being a good professional – and a good person.
I’ll be losing the opportunity to learn from you, but am so happy for your new endeavor and wish all the best on the next journey of your career. Thank you so much for your mentorship, leadership, and empathy. I really hope our path will cross again. So until then I don’t want to say good bye but see you soon. 😊 Best,” – Jin (Yeonjin Oh)
“I’ll never forget meeting Shalini after Gigya was acquired by SAP – she greeted me with open arms and a smile. We were in Amsterdam, and were all having a drink in the hotel lobby – she walked up, asked me how I was doing, and I could feel her genuine sincerity. She’s shared that same reverence and empathy every single day over the last few years. While at a CX LIVE in London, I was running around making sure everything was set for the closing session, and she handed me a glass of champagne, reminding me to enjoy the moment. She has a professional and calming presence that’s unique to anyone else I’ve ever met at SAP. I’m grateful to have had the chance to work alongside the most authentic, brave, and dynamic leader.
We need more strong female leaders like Shalini to be at the forefront, inspiring and creating women-empowered workplaces.
Shalini, thank you for all that you’ve done for this team. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and hope to cross paths again. You will be missed!” – Brenda Berys
🎼 You’re simply the best
Better than all the rest
Better than anyone
Anyone I’ve ever met 🎼
“A quote attributed to Bill Gates says, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” While Bill may have had a few missteps in his career – looking at you, Clippy the helpbot – I agree with this quote, and you’re a big reason why.
Over the past 14+ months, I’ve felt empowered to grow my voice as a contributor to our team.
I’ve felt empowered to try new things, even if there’s risk of failure.
I’ve even felt empowered to push back on projects & tasks if I thought it necessary.
All of this empowerment has stemmed directly from your leadership, which blends flexibility, structure, clarity, compassion, determination, and patience into a style that’s all your own. As a result, I’ve learned a ton. I’m a better marketer, teammate, contributor, and person now. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for paving the way for this to happen. I wish you nothing but the best of luck as you take your next step toward global domination. Your future team can’t understand the lottery they’ve won yet, but they’ll learn soon enough. Please stay in touch and I look forward to when our paths can cross again. Your friend,” – John Norris
“First, Shalini is simply an objectively lovely human. Beyond that, in my time working with her over the past three-plus years, I can say that Shalini’s leadership style is a rare mix of empathy and compassion, a strong commitment to cross-functional collaboration, and a consistently positive outlook that miraculously persists even during the most chaotic moments of #SAPLife. Making the transition from a tiny 400-person startup to a 100k software behemoth was never going to be simple, but Shalini honestly helped make it a meaningful and formative experience that I will always cherish.
Wherever she’s headed next, they’re lucky to have her. We’ll miss you terribly, Shalini, and please don’t forget us! After all, a great ‘team’ can extend well beyond corporate borders. Best of luck!” -David Kerin
🎼 I dream it,
I work hard,
I grind ’til I own it 🎼
“Since we started working together about 7 years ago, you’ve been one of the colleagues who represents the core values of SAP, and what makes this work place more than just a place where you work.
You are always empowering, enabling, and motivating people. You look at what is possible – even beyond our and your borders. Inspiring leaders like you always see the positive things in life and light, even in our darkest times.
As the Walldorf HQ does not offer a gateway to Palo Alto unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of us together, but I remember one nice little story that describes you best: hands on, passionated and absolutely willing to learn something new, trying it out yourself: that was the SAP CX LIVE 2020 EMEA keynote session which ended for you at 1:50 am PT session and we chatted shortly at the beginning:
Whatever will come your way Shalini – I wish you all the best. I am sure you will handle everything with the excitement, faith and easiness you are well known to all of us. Good luck, success and time for the really important things in live. CX friends forever! Best,” – Martin Stocker
“So many memories from all the Sapphires to regular lunches in the cafeteria, working beside you has been a pleasure. You have been an amazing colleague and a leader to work with, always choosing to seek the good in others and focusing on the bright side in circumstances. The halls in Bldg 4 will not be the same without you (when it opens). Thank you for being such a wonderful colleague and friend. Wishing you the best in your next endeavor!” – Bernard Chung
🎼 She traveled this road as a child
Wide-eyed and grinning, she never tired
But now she won’t be coming back with the rest
If these are life’s lessons, she’ll take this test 🎼
“You and I have worked together at least half of my working life at SAP – it’s been so much fun and such a whirlwind! The working atmosphere – your calm demeanor, your light-heartedness, your charm, your caring nature – in the midst of adversity; is always what I’ll remember and think of fondly! What we’ve accomplished is nothing short of amazing. The SAPPHIRES, the MKOMs, the stress-inducing all-hands and the pressure cooker analytics readouts … but that pales in comparison to everyday moments of lunch in Building 3 or Munich, Walldorf, Barcelona, Amsterdam and, yes…even Orlando.
Through it all, what I’ll hold onto about you is your love of people, family, recognition, fairness, leadership, growth, and that you keep your word.
I can’t wait to see what’s next for you and your crew as you travel on life’s path toward your next adventures. We will all be rooting from the sidelines – seeing the Shalini we’ve been so lucky to have had to guide, confide, and celebrate with – taking on a new and highly – deserved challenge! Enjoy every moment of it, and we will miss you! All best,” – Margot Heiligman
“Shalini – always professional with deep expertise, but most important you are person who gives good energy and sense of acceptance and genuine care. These are the values and personality that can not be taught, stay the same, and hope to meet you soon.” – Ursa Mihajlovic
“Our inspiring, reliable, rock of leader has welcomed an opportunity to move forward. No denying, this news was received with a heavy heart, while at the same time, supported by unquestionable faith in your future and that you have aligned with what best serves you. Words do not do justice to the mark you left as a colleague, friend and leader. From the time we worked side by side, to when I was reserved to watching from a far, I have never stopped hearing your words “family first”, “it’s not rocket science” and “let’s order some good wine”.
Your unwavering kindness, compassion, and focus on core values sits at the foundation of everything you are and do, and gave all those your led permission to bring our genuine selves to the table.
Your leadership has paved the way for so many of us, women especially, who were given the chance to see that you can be fierce and you can lead effectively without sacrificing your femininity, your humanity, your vulnerability. Thank you. That I will miss your presence is an understatement. That your journey and its impact will resonate far beyond your time at SAP is without question. The memory of that rainy day in Amsterdam, when I bought those red boots with you (which probably have one season left in them!), will forever sit at the heart of one of my favourite work moments and gatherings. Thank you for all that you are, all that you did, and all that you will continue to do.” – Tanya van Soest
“I was a contractor when we first started working together – something about a Hybris white paper you may remember (or equally may choose to forget). Straight away you were a breath of fresh air, bringing energy and enthusiasm even to the 88th round of amends, shepherding it through, finding reasons to smile. All hallmarks of your leadership style.
Since then I feel incredibly lucky to have benefitted from your expertise, empathy and realness. Regardless of what’s been going on you have always passed on information and guidance rather than stress, good vibes rather than bad.
I’ve learned so much from the way you have helped us all navigate the last couple of years, building a team of friends and family. You leave us all stronger, better for knowing you, but we will miss you so much. Loads of love,” – Jack Dyson
“You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Shalini, if I were allowed to remember only one thing about you, it would be your incredible kindness (and your smile).
I’m thankful that our paths crossed, but truly blessed that we worked together as friends. You made SAP feel like home from day one.” – Ratul Shah
🎼 Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way 🎼
“It has been so inspiring to watch you tap into your potential as a marketer, as a leader, and as a source of courage and optimism for those around you. I could recount the stories of the debates we had on marketing to a sales audience or the difficult decisions we worked through together, but you were there for all of them – so instead, I’ll just tell you how inspired I have always felt in your presence.
Your natural empathy has always shone through in your actions, and I have always been inspired by both your willingness to do the hard things and by the grace with which you do them.
I know that the brightest years of your career are still before you, but I’m grateful that you shone your light on me and all of us who have SAP CRM, SAP Hybris, or SAP CX on our resumes. I would wish you luck in your next endeavor, but I know you won’t need it. Forever in your corner,” – Johann Wrede