How SAP University Alliances Help Develop Strong Talent Pipelines

Podcast Insights logoAs SAP Partners and clients focus on the intelligent enterprise and the experience economy, programs like the SAP University Alliances are vital to developing a quality talent pipeline.

In the first of a two-part series of “Tech-Driven Business,”  Meagan Knoll of Grand Valley State University and academic and independent consultant Thomas McGinnis join Mustansir Saifuddin to give a great overview of the program. With over a decade of experience with the program and backgrounds in academia and with SAP, they share valuable insights.

What is the University Alliance?

The University Alliance is a program that was initiated by SAP, Knoll said, with the goal of fostering collaboration between educational institutions like the universities and trade schools, SAP itself, and SAP customers and partners.

“What we like to think of for the University of Alliances is that it is a conduit for knowledge transfer that will help prepare students to become skilled professionals in the SAP area,” Knoll said. “It’s a global initiative that has over 3,500 educational institutions, and that spans over 113 countries.”

According to McGinnis, “It allows companies to work with their local schools because oftentimes universities are struggling with what content to provide that’s meaningful to the local community when it comes to job skills and with systems work.”

Companies can help identify what those requirements are and the skills that they value and help set realistic goals for the graduates.

Benefits for companies

  • Companies are able to upskill students with applicable knowledge to their industry.
  • Companies gain visibility, which facilitates recruitment. This is especially valuable for companies that students may not be as familiar with.
  • The program enables faster onboarding of new talent.

Benefits for educational institutions

  • It provides a platform for collaboration. Companies can help guide schools in offering meaningful content aligned with industry needs.
  • The program enhances the university’s reputation with companies and students.

Benefits for students

  • It helps prepare students with the skills valued by employers.
  • It provides opportunities to participate in conferences, workshops, and certifications, ensuring students are well-prepared for the workforce.
  • There are opportunities for internships with participating companies.
  • It provides networking opportunities and access to a professional network that can otherwise be challenging.

Success stories

Meagan Knoll shared a rewarding experience where a former student, only three years after graduation, presented as a subject matter expert at SAP’s Sapphire Conference. This highlights the program’s impact on students’ professional development and its ability to produce skilled professionals who can make immediate contributions to their workplaces.

As the SAP ecosystem works together to ensure an ongoing talent pipeline, McGinnis reminds us all that organizations may not appreciate how much impact they can have on their local schools. So even though your organization may not seem relevant today, it is worth exploring so you can be ready at the get-go.

Interested in more Tech-Driven Business podcasts? You can listen here

About the podcast guests

Meagan KnollMeagan Knoll has been a member of Grand Valley State University faculty for 16 years. In addition, she is the vice chair of the SAP North America Academic Community Board and co-chair of the Partnership Committee.

Meagan’s commitment to student success extends beyond the classroom. She takes great pride in her extracurricular role as the advisor of the university’s SAP student group, a community that serves as a crucial bridge connecting students to professionals within the SAP ecosystem.

Outside of GVSU, Meagan remains deeply involved with the ASUG Michigan Chapter, where she currently holds a position on the Senior Leadership Team (SLT).


Thomas McGinnisThomas McGinnis has industry experience as a software developer, business analyst, system administrator, ERP consultant, and project manager.

Tom also has 20 years of experience in academia.  He has a master of science and a Ph.D. in the field of business information systems; he is an SAP-certified associate consultant and TERP10 academy instructor.  Tom has developed and taught courses in Enterprise Resource Planning (using SAP), Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing.

He is active in his local ASUG chapter, frequently presenting new and developing aspects of Business Intelligence at chapter meetings.   Tom’s research work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and numerous conference proceedings.

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