Erik Lüngen has worked in the IT industry for 20 years. He began his career at SAP as a consultant for medium-sized businesses. He then moved into development and took on management roles. Erik Lüngen briefly left SAP to take on responsibility at an SAP partner and sharpen his market perspective. He has now been back at SAP for 6 years as COO of the industrial development division. Erik Lüngen holds an MBA from the Mannheim Business School and ESSEC. He is an active supporter of Diversity & Inclusion and Pride@SAP, especially the Pride@SAPLabsIndia initiative. In 2018, he was both on Uhlala's Top 100 OutExecutives in Germany list and out-standing.org's Top 100 LGBT+ Executives list.
RAHM: Erik, this has been your second year in the jury at the RAHM Contest Berlin and even SAP’s third year to sponsor the event. What is it, that makes you come back?
Erik: I am a very pragmatic guy and I strongly believe change is done via small steps. If we want to make our companies and the leadership teams more diverse, more inclusive and more empathic we need to build a diverse pipeline of leaders for tomorrow. The RAHM event is very motivating and it is so great to work with a crowd of very talented and strong (future) leaders. I am looking forward to see these LGBT+ Ambassadors in senior management roles changing the business world of tomorrow.
Great Leaders let their people shine and are no laserlight themselves
One responsibility of the jury is to crown a (future) LGBT+ leader as the RAHM Contest winner. In your opinion, what are the qualities and characteristics that make a great leader?
A great leader has a vision, a great leader can motivate and the MAIN task of a great leader is to support his organization, teams and individuals to grow and learn. Great Leaders let their people shine and are no laserlight themselves...
Through your job at SAP you have had the chance to travel a lot and experience different cultures. One of your most frequent destinations is India. How is to work as an LGBT+ professional there? Is it no problem at all or do you still need to hide your sexual orientation at some point?
Laura, thank you for that question. I think it is a gift to be born and grown up in a country like Germany for many reasons. One reason for me is that I can live a gay person's live, marry, be out at work and have formally the same rights as straight people. In India it is still different. §377 only fell last year and the cultural pressure is still very high. People often don’t have the chance to come out and be their true selves, not at home and not at their workplace. Coming to India as a white manager of a western company I never had problems so far. My colleagues know me being married to a man - no problem. But we also need to be clear, I have a very special status and special reality. I decided to make use of this and help the LGBT+ community in India to fight for their rights and against stigma.
So I do hope that the differences will be eliminated in the next 10 years and that all of us around the world will have good conditions to be our true selves.
What would you say are the biggest differences between the LGBT+ Community in India and the one in Germany? What direction is it heading?
In India we are tackling the LGBT+ topic mainly via a crowd of allies. Allies are so important at the moment. We need a community of people who support LGBT+, influences the business environment and also builds up safe spaces for LGBT+ to come out. The culture has to change and we need to prove to the community that out LGBT+ and career can work together. Maybe a RAHM contest in India would be a right sign for the community.
In Germany/Europe things are more down the road already and sometimes we even think we are so far ahead. But we can also see dangerous signs and opinions that are backward oriented in Europe and I truly believe that the speed of change in India is tremendous. Everything in this great and energetic country is driving forward. So I do hope that the differences will be eliminated in the next 10 years and that all of us around the world will have good conditions to be our true selves...
The interview was conducted by Laura Homma, project leader of RAHM
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