Celebrating International Women’s Day: an interview with Daniela Sellmann

Celebrated on 8 March each year, International Women’s Day is a special opportunity to shine the spotlight on women working in our industry, highlighting their unique experiences and expertise, and what led them on this career path.

We spoke with Daniela Sellmann, Global Vice President and Head of Industry Business Unit Utilities at SAP to hear what led her to the energy sector, and what could be done to encourage more women to see the opportunities in this field.

In your role, what are your key responsibilities?
My team and I are responsible for the global SAP Utilities strategy, the respective solution management for our SAP for Utilities portfolio and the global Go-to-Market.

What initially interested you, and led you to this industry?
The massive opportunity that is ahead of us and the change required in the industry to meet our sustainability targets and master the energy transition. Ultimately, we see industry lines blurring and other industries also pivoting towards the energy sector, looking at oil and gas companies tapping into utilities or the automotive industry with the push towards e-mobility.

Do you have any advice for other women who may not have thought to join this industry?
If you are interested in an industry that is currently underlying heavy changes and that needs to be redesigned to meet new demands for renewables and at the same time meet increasing demands of end-customers, then you are absolutely right here. With 73% of GHG emissions being related to energy, utilities are at the forefront of decarbonization! Energy makes the world go round. It is the source of innovation and progress. With conventional energy generation as well as transmission, distribution and retail, we won’t be able to meet the innovation and energy demands of the future. This industry is the place to be and we need our utilities to help figure out how we master the energy transition, they are fundamental for the progress!

Do you have any insights into what could be done to encourage more women into this sector?
Publicly speak up and demonstrate the potential and innovations happening in the industry, as well as being more transparent about the tasks, topics and responsibilities utilities have – there is so much young talent (independent of gender) available that want to make a difference and positively drive the energy transition. Motivate these talents to join the industry by allowing them to learn, grow, have a positive impact, take responsibilities and drive change. We need exactly this new brain power in combination with the existing know-how we already have available in our energy industry companies to manage the challenges ahead and to apply a can-do attitude to the everyday business as well as new business, innovations and technologies coming up!

What do you as a woman bring to the industry?
As a human being I think my biggest strength is my passion to drive the energy transition and my mindset. A strong will to bring everyone together on one table to collaboratively solve and discuss challenges ahead of us. Also, leading with a clear sense of direction keeping in mind joint goals and making sure to always allow for diversity of thoughts. Finally, my strong ability to execute and deliver results. In the end the results are what matters most.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
To be very honest, I do not have this 5 year plan or big goal in mind. I really like what I do right now because I can see that my team and I are having an impact on the technology that we provide to our energy and utilities customers so that they can again drive the energy transition. For me it is valuable to know that I am able to make a difference and can contribute to a bigger cause in my work. Having a clear and solid purpose to wake up to every morning is something I am thankful for considering the time we spend in our daily jobs! And within the next years I am very much looking forward to driving more projects as well as cross-company and industry collaborations with my team to enable the energy transition.


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