Petra Maria Heeb, Senior Customer Engagement Executive at SAP, who also leads the program Search-inside-yourself at SAP, shared her thoughts and experiences in bringing mindfulness into SAP.

What is mindfulness? How can we combine business and mindfulness? These questions and others were answered at the HSG Women’s Chapter Alumni Event at EY in Zürich. During her Keynote Speech, Petra Maria Heeb – Senior Customer Engagement Executive at SAP, introduced her method of gaining the attention of every meeting participant: Just let them breathe and focus on the present for a minute. She does this at the beginning of every meeting, not just with her team but also with clients. The reaction is mostly the same: at first a bit of confusion but after that follows a productive and focused meeting.

Better wellbeing for employees

At SAP the management meditates together with the employees to raise awareness of mindfulness. A positive side effect of this is not just better wellbeing of the employees but also an increased employee engagement rate. A study of SAP shows that mindfulness promotes emotional intelligence, productivity and you feel more empowered. Heeb cites Gandhi by saying “Be the change you want to see in the world”, what she means by this is that YOU are the game changer – always start with yourself and don’t wait for others, not your colleagues or managers. Just start to be more self-aware and mindful.

David O’Connor, Petra Maria Heeb & Beatrice Sidler

Mindfulness wherever and whenever

Then Beatrice Sidler, HR Business Partner at EY and EY Mindfulness Champion took the stage. She practices mindfulness, wherever and whenever. While waiting for participants to join a call she does some mindful breathing exercises. In her opinion, mindfulness is a skill which can be acquired and which represents a resource that enables human beings to be better able to deal with demands. In her opinion, mindfulness is a skill which can be acquired and which represents a resource that enables human beings to be better able to deal with demands. Based on recent research, 27.1% of the younger generations do not have effective stress coping strategies in place. Trying to be on purpose in the present moment is actually not as easy as it seems. But our Mindfulness Champion had a tip for us «The key secret of meditation is, when your mind wanders off, just kindly accompany it back to your meditation object».

Focus on yourself

The last speaker of the evening was David O’Connor Agile Self-Leadership & Career Transformation Consultant with an impressive journey: from being a boy not able to speak up without stuttering to a coach speaking in front of hundreds of people. It was not the karate lessons he took as a child, but meditation that helped him dealt with the problem. When having friends over for dinner he uses a simple but effective method. He says «I do my best», breathes in, «and let go of the rest» while breathing out, after that he is present. An important point for him is to learn to say “no”. Noone challenges a “yes”, but saying “no” seems unacceptable, so he reminds us to put ourselves first. He also advises journaling for the first 10 minutes of the day; writing down what you want to do that day. Focus on yourself and your goals for a few minutes a day, be self-aware and manage yourself. «Allow yourself to be here and to be present». David practiced mindfulness with the audience through the “Just like you” meditation and raised awareness of personal feelings and wishes, but also empathy for feelings, wishes, negative experiences and pain of the neighbouring person, after all:  “We are all deeply connected“.

Join the „Mindfulness in the workplace“ event

If you are interested to participate in the second session, please register here.