Why Becoming the CEO of Unit4 Is My Next Great Chapter in a Purpose-Driven Career

Posted by  Mike Ettling

The best leaders are the ones who are shaped by a significant experience or two that touched them to the core of their being. For me, it was while growing up in the ugly days of apartheid South Africa, and remembering playing in our back yard. My mother swung open our back door and hurriedly sheltered a black man in our house to hide him from the pass police who were restricting peoples’ movements based on their race and colour. My mum’s simple act of compassion, amid rising tensions at the time, showed me that every person has worth, and the importance of protecting each other regardless of our differences.

I may have been a seven-year-old boy playing with model cars at the time, but those two minutes began my life story of people-centric purpose.

From my first leadership role in the Boy Scouts, to executive positions in the technology industry, every chapter of my career has revolved around three central themes: elevating the physical and financial welfare of people, engaging employees in meaningful work, and enabling talented individuals to reveal their full potential. The three most recent chapters of my career definitely reflect my journey of continuous learning about people: “Paying People” as CEO of NGA HR, “Engaging People” as President of SAP SuccessFactors, and now truly “Enabling People” as CEO of Unit4.

This mindset is not something that can be acquired by reading leadership and business management books and MBA case studies. It’s really the product of understanding the two fundamental levers that dictate business success: people and money.

CEOs and their supporting executive teams must be cognizant of how each of these levers impacts the other, and which adjustments are needed to optimize their influence on the business and its people. For those who can attain the right balance, the results are nothing short of transformational. A great proof point of how these levers come together is in the make-up of executive teams. According to McKinsey, companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation.

There is so much opportunity for businesses that operate as people-based organizations. That’s what excites me about this new opportunity. Unit4 is well-positioned to transform how businesses and their people view ERP systems by changing how:

  • People experience enterprise applications
  • Smart context allows people to tap into the relevant information they need by applying social, mobile, and analytics technologies
  • Cloud and best-practice ERP software deliver flexibility and agility

From addressing new competitors, customer expectations, and regulations to tackling constant change in marketplaces, technology and talent, service, education, and government organizations are empowered by Unit4’s “People Platform.” As they leave behind the status quo of traditional, rigid “wet cement” ERP systems, our customers are configuring their ERP applications and processes to meet their employees’ and customers’ needs to work smarter, faster, and more collaboratively.

Let’s face it: it’s people, not resources, that fuel business success. So as businesses consider technology called enterprise resource planning… it’s time to replace “resource” with “people” – and Unit4 is ready to help your business become part of the next generation of market leaders that are purpose-built for people.

Mike Ettling

I’m a CEO, Investor, builder of world class teams, champion of diversity and continuous learner, and I’m passionate about people. From my first leadership role in the Boy Scouts, to exec positions in the tech industry, my career has revolved around elevating, engaging and enabling people. I joined Unit4 to get the market as excited in our unique approach to enterprise tech as I am. We’re building systems that change how people experience work, and the impact will be huge. 

Outside of work I’m a family man, a Liverpool supporter, and a proud South African. 

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