SVLG Fireside Chat: Leading Through Adversity

Anamarie Huerta Franc Managing Director, SAP

Great achievements often start small. 

In the case of Anamarie Huerta Franc, Managing Director of SAP Labs US, she can trace it back to her five-year-old self having a conversation with her father about what she wanted to do when she grew up. She told him she wanted to be a nurse, because boys were doctors and girls were nurses.

“My dad heard that, and he turned to me and he said ‘You know, Anamarie, you can be anything you want to be.’ And in everything that I’ve ever done, I feel so fortunate that I have had that encouragement to go out and try to be anything I can.”

Franc’s father was born in the US, but grew up speaking only Spanish, and was held back in school because he didn’t speak English. He fought his way through the system, putting himself through UC Berkeley, receiving a law degree. 

“He really saw education as one of the best ways to present opportunity and help you bootstrap and accelerate your way through the American dream,” said Franc, who spoke with Pedro David Espinoza, SVLG VP of Business Development, as part of SVLG’s Launch Circuit Speaker Series

The Path to Success

True to her father’s values, Franc’s hard work and dedication brought her to Harvard, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, and to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She worked for SAP in the early 2000s, departing for a few years to take on consulting roles while starting a family. Franc returned to SAP in 2014, embarking on a meteoric rise that led to the Managing Director role responsible for the company’s development employees in the US. 

A global corporation headquartered in Germany, SAP is the largest provider of enterprise software helping businesses transform into intelligent, sustainable enterprises. The company has over 105,000 employees and more than 400,000 customers. SAP Labs has 20 offices in 17 countries and across the US, and is relied on by companies all over the world. With about 5,600 people working on R&D in the US, Franc’s job includes developing the strategy for the location, supporting development, building community, and serving as a business and brand ambassador in local communities. 

“This role requires a combination of skillsets that helps me work across all of our lines of businesses and create that sense of purpose for our employees, not only in the work that they’re doing every single day, but in the community in which they live,” Franc said. 

Franc is proud of the volunteerism and philanthropy practiced by SAP, which was recognized as one of the top corporate philanthropists in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times in July 2021 and the Silicon Valley Business Journal in November 2021. 

“For a German-based company to be recognized in this community… that really says a lot about our volunteerism as well as the financial efforts that we do locally,” she said.

Supporting Each Other

Her father’s encouragement has been a strong source of inspiration and strength, especially in moments like starting a new role or at times when she was the only woman or person of color in her working group. 

“You don’t see a lot of people like you at the table, and you have to fit in somehow without giving up your authentic self,” she said.

But she emphasized that people don’t have to go it alone. For times when family isn’t nearby, it’s essential to develop a supportive professional network.

“Finding people who see who you are and what you bring to the table that is different is really important, whether that’s your race or ethnicity, your background, your religious background, or even just your personality,” she said.  

Always aware of those who helped her along the way, Franc enjoys giving back as a mentor to younger people in their professional paths. She used to not want to talk about her story, she said, but now sees the value in showing others that they can do great things, too. 

“If there’s anything about my nonlinear career path that I can share that resonates and if it’s inspiring or helps someone figure out what to do, then I’ll continue having those conversations.”