Melissa Lamson works with businesses of all sizes, including small and medium companies, large multinationals, Fortune 500s, governments, non-profits, universities and hospitals. Melissa’s ultimate mission is to help global organizations collaborate and prosper across diverse workforces, priorities and cultures.

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A Case Study

Changing the Face of the Gender Challenge

As a global business solutions company, SAP has always placed a high premium on international acumen and a culture of diversity. With a commitment to continually finding ways to broaden its inclusive culture, the company set a goal of bringing more women into management positions – specifically 25% percent women in leadership ranks by 2017.

The ambitious endeavor, driven by Germany-based SAP, stemmed from a desire to shape constructive changes in gender roles within the company. Previous initiatives to increase the number of female leaders had little impact, and SAP leadership was determined to find an effective solution that helped their most promising women professionals overcome gender barriers.

The project committee began looking for the right consultant to help them, and the goals were lofty.“We knew we needed to take specific actions, like implementing training,” explained Margit Wintterle, the project lead of the gender project in the finance board area. “We wanted to analyze our current state of gender roles, then decide what actions to take and how to achieve our goals. One of the first goals was to implement more women-specific training.”

The project committee began looking for the right consultant to help them, and the goals were lofty. This consultant would need to illuminate the gender patterns within the company, and then create a strategic program to foster positive professional relationships between male and female coworkers while creating a roadmap for woman leaders.

SAP’s search quickly led them to Melissa Lamson, a global consultant with a stellar track record in helping companies shatter deeply entrenched gender barriers.

Changing Minds, Changing the Business

SAP conducted an internal study that showed 50% of all management positions posted had no female applicants. In addition to this astounding figure, they examined the results of a gender survey SAP conducted globally with all women in GFA (Global Finance & Administration) that indicated strongly that women preferred other career options to struggling with securing a management position and then dealing with the demands of such a position. Finally, networking was a major topic and the lack of “efficient” networking by women was a discussion topic in several project related groups. Based on these issues SAP decided to approach Melissa.

SAP asked Melissa to organize course sessions in Germany, the United States, South America and Singapore for initially 60 (later increased to 72) women with acknowledged executive potential.

“The feedback was great,” recalled Wintterle. “Melissa knew how to produce that ‘ah-ha moment’. You could see mindsets beginning to shift right there in the room.”

“Melissa has a gift for changing mindsets.”The response was overwhelmingly positive – so much so that SAP decided to add the course to its core training curriculum.

The workshops inspired other results: Participants were eager to meet more of the company’s upper management. A group of managers that report directly to the board began to hold a series of networking lunches. Coffee corner sessions hosted by top managers (male and female) are happening globally. Women have also requested management to send both men and women to the training as well.

“Melissa has a gift for changing mindsets,” Wintterle said. “She has an uncanny ability to think herself into the mind of whatever gender or nationality she works with.”

Men and Women Together

Since the initial training, SAP has created a program called LEAP: “Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program.” Aimed at helping emerging leaders develop interpersonal and business skills, LEAP launched in the United States before spreading to South America and Europe.

Melissa has also helped SAP explore fresh methods for involving men in their gender work.

Today SAP is exploring ways to help women evolve into management positions with stronger confidence and more support.“It’s not just about empowering women,” Wintterle explained. “We need everyone, women and men, to take an active role in cultivating women who are shining stars in the organization.”

Melissa pointed out that men and women often use a different terminology and communication styles in business interactions. They also have different approaches to self-promotion and networking. “The course will help bridge the cultural gap and put men more at ease with female leadership,” Wintterle said – something that has come in handy with SAP’s acquisition of several companies, all of which had a male-dominated workforce

Given the vast size of SAP’s global team, the project team thought it essential to provide samples of women who had made their way to the top. Initially this was done with interviews published in a quarterly gender newsletter. Melissa came up with the idea to help motivate and guide female professionals all over the world: leadership videos (selfies). SAP leaders now create video content explaining their path to professional success, such as the tactics they used and the lessons they learned in pursuing management positions. “These are the top women in the company explaining how they got there,” said Wintterle. “The message is, ‘I did it and you can do it too.’”

Another part of the project’s focus was gathering information about women’s priorities in the workplace. Particularly in Europe, many women expressed the desire for assistance with new management roles. Many felt that mentoring would help them reach their full potential as managers, as would job-sharing management positions. Today SAP is exploring ways to help women evolve into management positions with stronger confidence and more support.

Next Steps

Understanding the different gender communication styles and underlying workplace differences has already paid off. SAP changed the format of its job postings. Now, instead of featuring a long shopping list of qualifications, the postings have five must-have and five nice-to-have qualifications. Since this change, women are applying at a 25 percent higher rate than before – and almost half of the women who apply get the position.

“We’ve had a very positive reaction from men and high-level managers,” Wintterle said. “In fact, the enthusiasm for the project is so high that the leadership team has asked for more budget to continue working with Melissa and expand the program. We’re excited to see what we can achieve in the future.”

Three Projects:



ACT LOCAL: Post Merger Integration

Client Challenge

A failing pharmaceutical company in the United States was purchased by another large American corporation, which then installed new leadership. With all the change going on, team morale was low — people were sleeping through meetings and sick days were numerous. The management team recognized that the company culture was fast becoming toxic, which could potentially result in lower rates of innovation, poor teamwork and reduced profitability.

Lamson Consulting Solution

Lamson Consulting was brought in by the executive team to build a new strategic game plan focused on stopping the downward spiral and implementing practical, sustainable programs that would increase employee engagement, effectiveness and morale.

We began with a collaborative approach, by facilitating a S.W.O.T. analysis jointly with the leadership team and their direct reports. In a two month period we identified issues, gaps and actions that were needed to move forward. Then, working closely with contributing team members, we put together a plan that:

1) Engaged employees by bringing transparency into the new structure and vision for the company.

2) Encouraged participation by setting company and team goals with monetary and promotion incentives for employees.

3) Established employee development programs: incremental training, a mentor program, and on-site health care initiative.

Client Impact

Employee morale and productivity has dramatically shifted. Not only are employees more engaged in meetings and in the workplace, but also attendance is up and the atmosphere inside the company is positive and energetic. Informal employee surveys show that they are more trusting of the new leadership and are enthusiastic about the direction of the company. Both leadership and employees have been demonstrating that they have been keeping their mutual commitments via regular employee communications and progress reports. Today, the business is now profitable and is looking forward to future growth.


ACT GLOBAL: Foreign Startup – Manufacturing

Client Challenge

A manufacturing company based in Europe sought to establish a foreign subsidiary in the United States. This new subsidiary needed to acquire infrastructure, materials, new-hires, and a customer base. This was a multi-million dollar investment and the management team was chartered with getting it up, running and profitable within one year.

Lamson Consulting Solution

Lamson Consulting was brought in by company leadership to advise the new subsidiary on staffing and sales strategies, as well as to assist the company is creating common company values and procedures worldwide.

To aid in staffing the venture, Lamson Consulting developed hiring criteria, assessed new hires, and evaluated HR processes according to best practices.

In collaboration with the sales team, we established a sales strategy to acquire a strong base of prospects that would empower the sales team to accelerate customer acquisition for the subsidiary.

Lamson Consulting also led cross-border meetings to help the company create common corporate values and operational procedures worldwide. We provided on-going consultation with employees and leadership on how to work collaboratively across cultures. In addition, Lamson Consulting delivered training workshops on employee satisfaction, cultural awareness and sales presentation optimization.

Client Impact

The strategies and tactics Lamson Consulting implemented at the company enabled leadership to meet their goals for the new subsidiary. Within a year, it was up and running profitably, with over 100 employees and a nationwide customer base.


ACT GLOBAL: Global Strategy Roll-Out – Software

Client Challenge

Due to negative employee survey results worldwide — showing gaps in cross cultural communication and feedback, misunderstandings leading to conflict and in some cases feelings of discrimination — a large multinational software company decided they needed an in-depth analysis on employee cooperation across global locations.

Lamson Consulting Solution

Together with the board, we designated the key success indicators for the global consulting analysis. Lamson Consulting then traveled around the world – North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia – and interviewed employees, managers and executives. We generated the analysis and presented findings to the board.

Based on the analysis, Lamson Consulting and an internal steering committee developed a Global Diversity Strategy and managed a worldwide roll-out. Individuals and teams were assigned specific goals that focused on bettering employee relations globally and overcoming cultural differences.

Lamson Consulting developed and delivered a comprehensive workshop curriculum including:

1) Innovation from Cross Cultural Teamwork
2) Leading a Diverse Workforce
3) Creating Feedback Culture in Teams
4) Gender Cooperation
5) Preparation for Expats

We also collaborated with HR leaders to build a Global Competency Model that measured international business skills in existing top talent as well as new hires. Additionally, Lamson Consulting worked with the internal teams responsible for recruiting, hiring and employee development. We re-evaluated and revised procedures to include more diversity criteria and made the benefits of creating a diverse workforce more clearly pronounced.Surveys, existing leadership programs and other internal assets were also reviewed and modified to demonstrate more cultural awareness and encourage employee engagement across cultures.

Client Impact

The breadth and depth of involvement by cross cultural teams in the Global Diversity Strategy has impacted the company in several positive ways. The company has seen significant team behavioral changes and a shift in cultural awareness mindset that has stimulated higher productivity, efficiency and innovation. Time to market on new global initiatives has been greatly reduced and sales revenue growth globally has far surpassed sales growth in the headquarters’ local market.

Call Melissa to deliver a keynote, facilitate workshops and training, consult on a specific situation, or design a longer-term strategic project.