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Of course there comes a time when you have to get your hands dirty. You have waded through courses, textbooks and organisational induction programmes. Maybe you have got experience of another information systems. Either way, credibility is earned the hard way; you only really learn by getting stuck in. It’s a shame though that you can’t influence what happens day to day. Or can we? This post is the first in a 5 part series of articles that will describe how I attempted to deal with the difficulties of a first job, and how I subsequently learned to make this experience work for me in the future.

I vividly recall my first big SAP job, at a defence manufacturer in 1994. I remember feeling enthusiastic about my emerging career, and my confidence was bolstered by a series of SAP training courses that I had taken. I also remember the first project meeting with the implementation team, during which all my illusions were shattered. I was now faced with the harsh reality of working with real people in a real factory.

The learning ‘process’ was haphazard and painful to say the least, with the only qualities that appeared to be required being staying power and the development of an impervious skin. The other project members were suffering also, but the company deemed this an accepted method of learning.

I felt that I didn’t need any more training courses, just some pointers through the maze.

As the project progressed I attained more responsibilities. Of course this meant supervising junior project workers, whilst I simultaneously learnt from my own mistakes. After a while (and some ‘pep’ talks from the Project Manager!) I began to accept that the size of the task ahead was massive and I would just have to get on with it. But surely I didn’t have to slip on the same banana skins as my predecessors?

Some time later, I eagerly accepted the offer of a Project Manager’s position in a subsequent SAP project. My excitement was beaten away quicker than before when I gained first-hand experience of what it is really like to be a manager with significant responsibilities for staff and budgets. None of the individual bits are too taxing, but knead them all together and add a sprinkling of thorny organisational politics, and you get an idea of the bittersweet taste of a line manager’s job.

Everything was wrong – or at least it seemed that way. Bespoke code was behind schedule, programming quality was variable, data cleansing was never-ending and the workforce was uncooperative. There was a mountain to climb, with many challenges ahead. Lots of experience must equate to lots of learning!

In My First SAP Job – Part 2 I shall explain the value of some critical self-evaluation.

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10 Comments

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  1. Alvaro Tejada Galindo
    Remind me on my first ABAP job -:) It wasn’t actually my “first” job…I had been previously worked on Help Desk and on Graphics Design (Believe it or not LOL)…So my third job was on ABAP, but it was my fist Programming job…SAP is awesome, I love it…But at first it can scary and intimidating…Specially when you start to get some responsabilities…

    Working as a Freelance, I work on a lot of different companies…But everytime a new project is about to start…I still feel like a newbie on it’s first professional game…And I really love that LOL You never stop learning -;)

    Keep writing this…It’s really interesting for me -:D

    Greetings,

    Blag.

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    1. Richard Hill Post author
      I’ve also had a few more ‘first jobs’ since, when a particular project has come up and I wanted to get involved. Some of the things I’ll be talking about have helped me get the best out of these new experiences. Glad you like it so far!

      Richard

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  2. Nitesh Nagpal
    Agree..with the real time scenarios…politics…uncooperative coworkers..had something similar experience…looking forward to more of ur blogs !!
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  3. Kenneth Moore
    You have a good memory back to 1994!  Good blog.  Explains all too well the career transition from the ideal scholastic to “real world”.
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    1. Richard Hill Post author
      I’ve recently taken on a new role and I decided to go through some of my professional development notes – more will be revealed in later articles! Thanks
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  4. Jagadeesh DV
    Hi, You have put your thought very well. I am almost undergoing a similar situation. I started working in a manufacturing industry 18 years back!!! Suddenly jumped into SAP from past 3 years. Right now, I am managing an implementation project. Experiencing everything you have mentioned. For a while, I though how did you get to know my experience!!!
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    1. Richard Hill Post author
      I must admit that I have a soft-spot for manufacturing, especially if you sell direct to the customer. You get a real sense of achievement when you alter the workflow, reduce the leadtime, reduce WIP and stock-holding and then see a direct positive impact in the accounts.

      Richard

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      1. Jagadeesh DV
        Hi

        Yes, it is a different ball game when you are in manufacturing industry with direct customer deliverables. I was into executing turn-key projects. Every day out there in the middle of the plant you will battling it out. On one side, working with most optimum inventries, on the other side make sure that all things which are required to meet the deadlines are availalbe. Having said all these things, at the end of completion of each plant set up, it used to be great sense of acheivement. You can see the empty land now filled with action oriented manufacturing plant!! Joy of the customer is just can’t defined particularly on day one of the operation.

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