Is Our Next Generation Future-Ready?

This week I have the incredible privilege of attending our partner SAP's annual SAPPHIRE NOW Conference, which is one of the largest, boldest, global business and technology conferences in the world. Companies across a wide range of industries come to SAPPHIRE to share their achievements, showcase new technologies, network and ponder what new software SAP will create and how it will change how we live, consume and interact with one another. I'm a lucky partner who will become an awful lot smarter about where things are going by just being in the room.

As I prepare to host the SAP Global Partner Summit today with so many visionary leaders advancing how we look at data, the cloud, software and their impact on countless industries, I reflect on the theme of the summit, "Partner's First. Run Live. Lead Together!" As a mother of four and the CEO of GENYOUth, a child health and wellness nonprofit, the vitality of our nation's youth lives at the center of everything I do. I'm a former Wall Street kid and journalist, blessed with the passion and purpose to advocate for those whose voices are often not heard.

Our partnership with SAP spawned a social entrepreneurship program called AdVenture Capital, a pitch and invest entrepreneurial program, which provides grants, mentoring and resources for students to expand health and wellness initiatives in their schools and communities. Warren Buffett was one of our first incubators of the idea and said, "AdVenture Capital recognizes and rewards students for their ideas and instills in them the confidence to OWN the process of change to create healthier learning environments."

As I reflect back on how far we have come as an organization and how much technology has changed in the past five years, including the outright adoption of the cloud, I am even more convinced that what SAP and its partners are doing today is preparing generations of kids like mine to believe in and value the notion of partnerships, have the capacity to drive insights in real time - or as SAP calls it, "Run Live" - and most importantly, "Lead Together."

Together is the operative word. As a parent and a wonky kid myself, I embrace the competitive spirit and the creative juices that flow from it, but I also think that what makes SAPPHIRE NOW and the conferences like it so unique, is that technology giants like SAP begin with collaboration which ultimately leads to transformational change.

Bringing students together with companies like SAP transforms the way they think about their own future. They are empowered to not only become healthier, high-achieving students, developing technology, creating business and financial plans and communication strategies to embolden their neighbors and communities, but it's also preparing them for what lies ahead and becoming a leader in the workforce. AdVenture Capital students see firsthand what a company stands for through interactions with people who work for those companies. In fact, many students we've connected to SAP hope to work there someday because they put their "Partner's First and Lead Together."

As partners, leaders and organizations like mine participate and learn about the future of technology and business during the SAPPHIRE NOW Conference, I implore all business leaders and companies to take immediate steps to engage and educate the future workforce as young as Generation Z as our partners at SAP have done and continue to do every day. Youth await opportunities to learn and make a positive contribution to the world...if given the chance to step up. When youth are given a voice, change will happen.