Lessons in Leadership: Robert Anderson


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 looks on from backstage at the SAS HBCU Invitational Career Day event.
Robert looks on from backstage at SAS' HBCU Invitational Career Day event.

Meet Robert 

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

Robert Anderson, Director of Solutions Optimization & Support in R&D at SAS
Robert L. Anderson, Director of Solutions Optimization & Support in R&D at SAS

“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!  


About Author

Alyssa Grube

Communications Specialist

Alyssa is a Communications Specialist at SAS focused on culture, recruitment marketing and employer branding. She’s a creative storyteller who’s passionate about the intersection of people and brand, and loves sharing the SAS story.


  1. Maribel Costa on

    Great feature Robert! "...something about SAS’ culture repels jerks." Could not agree more. Well done!

  2. Ted Stolarczyk on

    Robert, did you say HIIT? You have to try Les Mills Body Pump and Body Attack as well 🙂 In all sincerity, it's been an honor to have met you and known you through my SAS years. You definitely "walk the walk" as this article notes.

  3. Allison Sealy on

    “Leadership is more than just a title – you should be a leader before you get the title.” I love this sentiment. Thank you for your wisdom, Robert!

  4. SAS is lucky to have you. What a cool pilot program you have developed. And Bright Ideas - wow! Thank you for all the gifts you bring to our company.

  5. Jim Barillaro on

    It was evident when we met in 2000 that you were a natural born leader, Robert.

    The teams you have led have always been successful and the individuals who worked for and with you have enjoyed working with and for you. You have inspired so many of us!

    Keep up the great work, Robert!

  6. Robert, you are an example in leadership and an inspiration to many! Thank you for all you bring to your teams and to SAS!

  7. Dave Stonehouse on

    Robert, many congratulations on this honor. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and watching as you take great steps in your career.

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