In a freewheeling Q&A session with industry analysts and media representatives at last week’s SAP Sapphire & ASUG Accelerate Orlando, key members of the SAP Executive Board addressed SAP progress and priorities, creating context for several new and recent product announcements. During the session, SAP CEO Christian Klein also answered a question about career advice to those just beginning a career.

Klein, who has spent his entire professional life at SAP and is CEO at age 42, counseled people to “stay always curious. I’ve learned so much…I look at our Executive Board, and the new perspectives we’ve brought in.We can always do better. We can learn. And second, I’ve always had good mentors, people with very different personalities.”

He said he’s often asked why he’s stayed at SAP. Klein underscored the importance of understanding people and culture as a leader.

When asked about the partnerships and spirit of collaboration evident in SAP news and announcements from last week, Klein said that Julia White, SAP Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer, has been “pushed very hard for that.” For her part, White said that the shift to more partnerships and collaboration has been “very deliberate” and “intentional.”

White noted that SAP, “particularly in the last year,” has been deliberating on where it’s “going to focus, where are we going to be best-in-class, where are we going to bet on our ecosystem” in a much more strategic way,” indicating that more partnerships and collaborations will occur. “We’re just warming up,” she said.

When challenged about the potentially underwhelming nature of last week’s announcements, White said that customers should expect a “constant state of innovation.” Meanwhile, Jan Gilg, President and Chief Product Officer of SAP S/4HANA, added that the “SAAS world [where SAP is positioning] is very different.” Nonetheless, customers should expect “continuous” enhancements.

SAP Signavio gained substantial Executive Board commentary. CTO Juergen Mueller noted that the solution achieved an 18-month growth record and is key to business process automation. Klein emphasized the strength of SAP Signavio for customers building business cases, as well as its benchmarking capabilities. White called it an SAP “hidden gem.”

When probing evidence of an internal culture shift with external customer repercussions, White highlighted the benefits of “fierce” design, integration, and implementation discussions across the Executive Board to benefit customers, products, and solutions. Gilg underscored the importance of the “message shift” and “move to SAAS, with customer-centricity,” while Mueller noted that customers will benefit from focus and results with ongoing “end-to-end integration” projects.

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