Five minutes with SAP's Tayfun Topkoc

Arabian Computer News delves below the corporate strategy to find out what really makes the region’s IT leaders tick

Tags: Cloud computingSAPUnited Arab Emirates
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Five minutes with SAP's Tayfun Topkoc Tayfun Topkoc, Managing Director, SAP UAE and Oman.
By  Staff Writer Published  November 6, 2017

How did you come to be in your current role?

I’m passionate about how technology can transform daily lives. I have a BSc in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, MSc in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering, and an Executive MBA from KOC University.

Professionally, I started off as marketing manager for a multi-national technology company in Turkey, and then moved to Dubai to become their Middle East regional director. I joined SAP as managing director of UAE and Oman in 2014.

What is your management philosophy?

I’m dedicated to building high-performance “Dream Teams,” who can collaborate to drive business competitiveness and innovation, and plan and deliver on short-term and long-term business goals. Personally, I’m an engaged leader, with a hands-on approach to helping the team members to develop creative problem-solving solutions.

What was your first computer, and when did you first use it?

My first computer was the Commodore 64! I have fond memories of playing computer games.

What is your greatest achievement?

Since being appointed as managing director of SAP UAE and Oman three years ago, I’ve been committed to taking SAP’s business in the region to the next level. As a result, my greatest business achievement was opening SAP’s new MENA headquarters in Dubai and our five year $200m UAE investment plan. We’re supporting UAE Vision 2021 goals of government-led digital transformation.

We were honoured for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, and HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, to inaugurate the new office.

I’m also very proud of SAP recently being named the Innovative Enterprise Software Partner for Expo 2020 Dubai.

What was the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I faced was when, shortly after graduating from university, I founded a startup with a partner. While we had the motivation to make it work, the financials were not there. I had to make the tough decision to fold the business and start all over again. That was a humbling experience.

What is your fondest memory of working in the Middle East industry?

Working in the Middle East, I’m fond of attending majalis with senior executives and government officials. Connecting with the warm and welcoming local culture has been an enlightening experience. The bonds of friendship that we develop in the majlis are just as important as those bonds in the business world.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the market in 2017?

In 2017, the technology that will make the biggest impact is cloud-based subscription models — which can help businesses to optimise costs and productivity with opex rather than capex models. In the coming years, innovations such as autonomous vehicles and subscription-based business models will lead the digital economy.

What’s the best way to deal with stress?

I deal with stress by relaxing and unwinding with my family. I’m very proud of my son, who’s 11 years old and the top-ranked under-12 tennis player in the UAE.

PERSONAL

Nationality: Turkish
Number of years in the industry: 25 years. I’ve been in the UAE since 2010, and joined SAP in 2014
Favourite food: Middle Eastern cuisine and Japanese food
Holiday destination: I love sailing in the Mediterranean and Caribbean
Music: Middle Eastern and Turkish music. I play bass guitar as a hobby
Dream car: Tesla – when they launch a flying car!
Gadget: Fitbit for tracking my physical fitness and personal health
Movie/book: “Moneyball” is my favorite movie. I love reading biographies of prominent historical figures

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