A Call to Lead
A Call to Lead
Jennifer Morgan
Sylvia Acevedo
35 minutes Posted Jul 8, 2019 at 10:00 am.
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Show notes

Whether you're a Girl Scout or not (I am—once a Scout, always a Scout), my conversation with Sylvia Acevedo, the CEO of the Girl Scouts, is worth a listen. Sylvia has a remarkable path to success: As a young woman, she was discouraged from pursuing her interest in engineering. So what did she do? She went to school for engineering and became a rocket scientist at NASA. After stops at IBM and Apple and Dell, Sylvia is leading millions of Girl Scouts to places they've never gone before—teaching them to code and about cybersecurity and other need-to-know things in the workplaces of tomorrow. In an episode full of leadership wisdom, here are five points that my team and I found particularly valuable: 

  1. Having learned, as a Girl Scout, how to create opportunity and how to sell, Sylvia still to this day follows the advice that her troop leader gave her: "Never walk away from a sale until you've heard 'No' three times."
  2. Sylvia has spent her life ignoring naysayers and being her own best champion."The first sale that you make is to yourself. If you believe you can do it, then you can do it. But you have to sell yourself first."
  3. Why the Girl Scouts teaches coding and other skills that next-gen workers will need: "If you're prepared, you can be fearless. We want to have that generation of fearless girls."
  4. When Sylvia went on a book tour to promote Path to the Stars, her memoir for middle school readers, she found that boys raised their hands much more readily to ask questions. "I had to make sure that I'm only going to take questions if I'm alternating between a boy and a girl. Then girls would feel like they could raise their hands."
  5. Increasing the Girl Scout population would have a dramatic impact on the female talent pipeline, Sylvia says. "We're less than 8% of the girl population, but half of all female elected officials in America were Girl Scouts. In the recent class in Congress, 60% were Girl Scouts; 75% of the U.S. Senators are Girl Scouts. All three former Secretaries of State were Girl Scouts. Almost every female astronaut in space was a Girl Scout. And 80% of female tech leaders born in the U.S. were Girl Scouts. So, imagine if we could be not just at 8%, but at 10%. Imagine what that would mean to our talent pipeline."

You can learn more by visiting: www.sap.com/acalltolead. And you can subscribe and listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher. We welcome your feedback on the pod! Tweet me @JenniferBMorgan and use the hashtag #acalltolead or e-mail us at [email protected]

Where to Listen: Subscribe and listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.


Jennifer Morgan is a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and President of SAP’s Cloud Business Group.