There are many factors that influence an employee's experience at a company, and one of the most important is the positive impact of a strong leader. The Great Resignation has highlighted the importance of strong leadership at every level, and that’s why we’re excited to hear from Robert L. Anderson II!
Robert is a husband and dad, a member of our Black Initiatives Group (BIG) leadership council, and Director of Solutions Optimization & Support in R&D at SAS; and he’s passionate about leadership and empowering others to grow their careers. He's also one of our 2022 CEO Award of Excellence winners!
Robert started his career at SAS right out of college, after using SAS software during a summer internship: “I was impressed by SAS’ capabilities and ended up being recruited by SAS on campus at my college, North Carolina A&T,” he explains. “I joined SAS’ Technical Enablement Academy and was excited to move to the DC area, working at SAS’ Rockville, Maryland office.”
Fast forward to today, Robert leads the Solutions Optimization and Support organization under R&D’s Solutions Factory division: “Our team focuses improving the consistency, scalability, and time to value of field developed solutions” he explains. “Our charge is to optimize these solutions so we can provide best-in-class products and support to our customers.”
Journey to leadership
After 7 years as an individual contributor, Robert began feeling like he was ready for a new challenge: “I started to want something more,” he says. “I’ve always been a natural leader, so I expressed my interest in management.”
Business need aligned with Robert’s interest in people leadership, and after several months, he moved into a manager role: “After I expressed my interest in management, I focused on being a leader on every project I was on, even if it wasn’t my role on paper,” he shares. “Leadership is more than just a title – you should be a leader before you get the title.”
“Leadership is more than just a title – you should be a leader before you get the title.” - Robert L. Anderson, Director of Solutions Optimization & Support
Learning to lead
Robert’s been a manager at SAS for most of his career, and he’s got wisdom to share: “I’ve learned that being a good manager means being selfless,” Robert explains. “Servant leadership is important – as a manager, it’s my job to make sure the people who report to me are growing.”
Robert doesn’t take his role lightly, and this year, he introduced the concept of “Bright Ideas” to his team: “I challenge each person on my team to find something they can add to the organization as a whole – a bright idea. It could be anything – whether it relates to their job description or not.”
Robert doesn’t just talk the talk – he walks the walk. Over the last year, has brought his own bright idea to life: a new leadership development program called LEAD. Through this pilot program, employees receive extensive training and manage two of their current peers for six months to gain real leadership experience, enhancing their professional development potential to be future leaders at SAS.
Loving the #saslife
When asked what he loves about the #saslife, Robert has a quick answer: “The people – emphatically,” he says. “I stay at SAS because the people here are extremely smart and selfless; something about SAS’ culture repels jerks,” he laughs.
“It’s a collaborative environment, not competitive. We’re all working towards the same goal – empowering customers to make better decisions with their data.”
Outside the office
“I have three children,” Robert shares. “So, I’m a full-time Uber driver to their activities. Swimming, basketball, soccer – it’s all I do,” he laughs.
Robert also fits in fitness with HIIT workouts and enjoys cooking and staying healthy. Despite his move from the Tar Heel State to Maryland, he’s still a Carolina fan through and through: “I watch all the games,” he says.
Thank you, Robert, for sharing your journey to leadership with us!