2019 Northwestern Law MSL Entrepreneurship Trip — The Path to Success as Told by Jay Mandal

By Xiaolei Cheng, Shao-Hsuan Kao, & Kat Klein

Day 2 – Tuesday, March 26: SAP Ariba

On day two of our EnTP adventure, we visited SAP Ariba, a subsidiary of the software giant, SAP. SAP Ariba leads the market in spend management by assisting companies with controlling spending and more easily connecting buyers and suppliers. SAP Ariba shares their expertise with over 3.6 million businesses of many sizes in more than 190 countries. They provide spend management tools and expertise to help customers develop and maintain trusted connections with partners. Buyers can manage the purchasing processes, and supplies can connect with profitable customers and simplify sales along the way. We had the incredible opportunity to meet with Jay Mandal, SAP Ariba’s Vice President of Product Strategy.

Our visit began with a tour of the SAP Ariba campus in Palo Alto. The major buildings formed a large square around a courtyard. Jay explained that each floor housed a particular department and that the building was laid out in a way that was conducive to collaboration. Related departments were housed near each other for easy access that facilitated teamwork. As we moved inside, we saw another excellent example of an open-style Silicon Valley workspace.

After selecting beverages from the kitchen that was generously opened to us, we made our way through some indoor workspaces to a conference room where we had a chance to talk. Jay began by asking us to visualize where we want to be 3-5 years from now. He told us that what stops people from realizing their full potential is the limitations they put on their dreams. He stressed the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are constantly pushing you to look forward 3-5 years, and who challenge you to adjust and expand upon these goals. He said that it is important to keep in mind that there is no cost to dreaming.

Jay argued that while most people do not have the audacity to dream, dreams should be BIG. It is important for us as students to maintain a growth mindset. With our diversity of backgrounds and commitment to innovation and trailblazing into new careers and emerging fields, it is even more important to stay focused and maintain “single-minded determination” to complete these goals.

We then began to discuss more of the details of his past including what led him to the success he experiences today. Jay reminded us that it is imperative to determine what each of our individual moral compasses tell us and to let these moral compasses guide everything in the work we do. Through his Fulbright experience, Jay told us stories about how he determined the direction of his moral compass and how he has since followed that in everything he does. His commitment to democratize access to legal rights and change the world in small ways was inspiring to us all. This moral compass should always involve helping other people and it should drive us.

Through all of this, Jay encouraged us to hone critical soft-skills. In technology, those with the highest EQs are the most successful, as they know how to interact with people, not only technology. After all, PEOPLE are behind TECH. As future leaders in science and technology, it is imperative for us to not only understand the substance of our fields, but also the people that power them.

Our visit with Jay Mandal was a refreshing change of pace and inspirational experience. It is often easy to get distracted by the stresses of school, work, and life, but Jay gave us the tools and perspective to stay grounded in our beliefs and adhere to the goals we set for ourselves. Perseverance and passion are the main determinants of success.

If you’re looking for the three main takeaways of our visit, here they are:
1. Dream BIG;
2. Identify and maintain a clear moral compass; and
3. The most successful people are those with the highest EQ.

The entire MSL team is immensely grateful for our time with Jay Mandal at SAP Ariba. He encouraged us to focus on the people we surround ourselves with. To this point, we were incredibly fortunate to have spent the afternoon with him. We will use these tools, combined with our unique educational experiences, to make a positive impact throughout the world.

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