I am part of the SAP Road Warriors’ clan described by Kevin Wilson in Life as a SAP Road Warrior – Do you have what it takes?. Slightly differently comparing to Kevin l am coming from “salaried consulting” side, so let’s put financial topics aside.
I agree with Kevin that life of the Road Warrior is not for everyone.
In my case: I love to be on the road. It’s like discovering world without watching TV 😉 I like changing places frequently. The best part of my consulting life was when I mostly worked on short 1-3 days engagements helping with Let’s talk about Best Practices for SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator implementations and when I was traveling all around the US. Even now if I get into one place for longer, then once a month I choose a different itinerary or a different hotel just to break the routine.
But as much as I like to travel I must say that I was lucky enough to get on local projects and to spend every evening of last year with my family at home.
On the other side, the idea of settling down and spending whole life in one office just scares me. There is no way to avoid politics in customers’ projects either, but still most of the customers treat you as an expert and let you do what you do best – helping them to build solutions and resolve problems.
Yet, as long as it is nice to meet new people, while going through countless “rounds of introductions” you start thinking “What’s the point? Shouldn’t I rather invest my time in relationships that really matter?” One in forty you meet again during TechEd or The specified item was not found., and one in four hundred you may be even make a new friendship.
But then again comes professional side of being consultant: where else would you face so many different problems to resolve? Customers’ imagination is just infinitive. Every customer comes with another set of challenges, different set of technologies, unique ideas, different ways to operate the business (and that’s why I am smiling when every single one is asking for “best practices”). You are sharing knowledge and ideas with them, and you are learning in return as well.
So, you are back on the road, although this road is not always the one described in “Road Warrior”. My favorite column in “Fortune” magazine, where C-level guys discuss their favorite places to buy a tie in Milan, to stay overnight in Singapore, to have a coffee in Paris or to play golf in Southern California. The truth is that the life of an average SAP Road Warrior brings you to the middle of the forest in New Jersey, where there is only one place you can eat. Although it is your favorite sushi bar, after 6 months on the project you can hardly stand the smell of teriyaki sauce. The road of another Warrior brings him to downtown Oakland (on the other side of the bay from San Francisco), where after 6pm this consultant just look outside of the window and is not brave enough to step outside of the hotel. And yet another Warrior is spending his Friday night in Holliday Inn Express in airport of hot and humid Phoenix instead of his home in San Jose, just because his flight from Newark was delayed due to plane that did not make it on time through thunder storm in North Carolina. [I hope SDNers from around the world forgive me using American geography for illustrative purposes here]
Comes Sunday night, and you are again in the airport waiting for boarding and just one hour later you’ll there again. Up there. Up in the Air.