B4SI News

In Conversation with Debbie Wall, Sage Foundation

Please describe your role and responsibilities, how many years you have been in the company?
I am the Executive Vice President for Sage Foundation and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) at Sage. My role is a global one and my journey at Sage started four and a half years ago when I joined to set up Sage Foundation across all our 23 markets. Since joining I’ve taken on overall responsibility for D&I, an area of the business I’m extremely passionate about developing. I believe that corporates have a responsibility to serve the communities in which we operate and to drive inclusivity in the workplace for all Sage colleagues globally.

What was your background previously and where did your interest in community begin?
My background is in marketing, events and sponsorships. I spent 20 years working in Formula One Motorsport, creating and delivering campaigns for blue chip companies involved in F1 and for racing teams such as Benetton Formula, Stewart Grand Prix, Jaguar Racing and Virgin Racing. My interest in community started when I was working in Formula One. It became more focused when I worked alongside Virgin Unite at Virgin Racing on a campaign to raise $5 million for charities supporting young people.

How has your community investment program evolved at your company?
I started Sage Foundation when I joined Sage. At the time Sage was going through a global transformation. Part of the work conducted recognised that Sage needed to support the communities where we operate, and to give colleagues across all our markets the opportunity to come together and work together to support the charities operating alongside us. We focus on three main activities: 1/ volunteering, every Sage colleague can take five days of paid volunteering every year, 2/ grant giving where we give small community grants to support the volunteering we are carrying out and 3/ product discounting whereby we develop Sage products that better serve not-for-profit organisations to manage their finances more effectively. We also have an amazing fundraising campaign where we empower our colleagues and customers to raise money for charities that they are passionate about. We have completed our $1 Million Challenge and are now hoping to raise $2 Million by 2022.

We delivered 31,250 volunteer days last year – 30% more than last year. We ran, walked, cycled over 80,000km in 2019 alone to raise money for our charity partners. And we established a product discounting program that over the coming years will help to ensure our charity partners manage their financials more effectively. We have helped hundreds of small charities in all 23 our markets.

What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?
We are incredibly lucky at Sage and have the full support of our CEO, Steve Hare and our board. I work very closely with Steve and our Chief People Officer, Amanda Cusdin to make sure that Sage Foundation sits at the centre of the business and is an integral part of Sage’s strategy globally. This has allowed us to build out Sage Foundation effectively and make sure we have full support throughout the business. We have kept our objectives simple and achievable and have therefore been extremely successful in all our markets. I believe without this senior support it would not have been possible to achieve what we have in such a short period of time.

What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
My biggest learning is to recognise that people are passionate about helping others, and given the right encouragement and support the impossible is possible.

What is your motto in life?
Life is not a dress rehearsal, so try and live every day like it’s your last!