What are they
Chief Operating Officer, SAP - Canada
Alumnus since 2013
Sam Masri joined Strategy& in 2010, and still remembers his four back-to-back interviews followed by an offer from Karim Sabbagh on the night of that same day. Sam joined the telecom practice in the Dubai office over the course of what he calls “four magnificent years”. He worked on some of the most professionally and personally rewarding projects, including building a technology investment strategy for a country, and designing and deploying a corporate strategy for a multinational telecom group across 15+ countries.
Sam learned a lot about his profession from his projects, but it was the people he worked with who taught him the most. He cherishes the time spent on “insanely intellectually stimulating discussions”, as well as the great laughs he had with his core team — people he still calls brothers and sisters even though they are scattered across different continents today: Abhijit Navalekar (Asia), Varun Krishnan (Europe), Najwa Aaraj, Christelle Salame and May Bahgat (Middle East).
To Sam’s mind, the firm’s people strategy was its most amazing competitive advantage. The mentorship model is something he copies everywhere he goes. He recalls his discussions with his mentors: “To them, it was a quick chat for the day, but for 27-year-old me at the time, the discussions helped me chart my path forward for years to come”. Their undivided attention during such times despite their very busy schedules, their honest advice, and the practice of drawing humble parallels continue to be a constant reminder to him today when he coaches and supports his employees and mentees. “You can have the best strategy in the world, but strategy without a good team, good people, is a fantasy,” he says.
Had it not been for a resolution he and his wife made to move to new continents as many times as possible during their lifetime, Sam might not have left Strategy&. Nevertheless, in 2013, the couple decided to move to North America and make Canada home. They have been in Toronto ever since. Sam joined enterprise software company SAP, and today he is Chief Operating Officer in the company’s ~$1 billion subsidiary in Canada. He is responsible for the overall design and execution of the go-to-market strategy, allowing SAP to best service its +16,000 customers in Canada as they transform their businesses through the use of digital innovations. And by putting people first, something he learned at Strategy&, Sam contributed to making SAP one of the top five employers in Canada in 2019.
Recently, Sam and his wife faced some adversity when their identical twin daughters were born. The babies had to fight for their lives for several weeks, but thankfully now have gained strength and health. The experience inspired Sam and his wife to find ways to help other parents who are struggling with such a hardship: They now volunteer in NICUs and rappel down 300+ feet buildings to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Sam’s passion to help people has even extended to a personal project. “Most people don’t have the benefit of working for a great company that looks out for their people day in and day out,” he says. Along with a friend and former mentee, Sam wants to bring mentorship to parts of the world where amazing, untapped talent has no access to such programs. The project is launching in August 2019, and Sam invites interested people to reach out: “We need mentors to help the world become a better place to live in.”