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I’d intended to get a blog out on this first, but Dennis Howlett usually gets there first and says it best. Go read his blog if you like, I won’t be offended. For those of you that don’t know, SAP Mentors are the top community influencers in the SAP Community Network. Well, some of them at least – there are many people who aren’t mentors that might be. I felt serendipity was in play when Mark Finnern gave me the call late one night to say that I’d been selected for the intake this year.

When I told a senior member at the SAP User Group UK & Ireland about this, the reaction was pretty clear “What, that bunch of weirdos?”. I found this a pretty odd reaction at the time. Let’s take a quick diversion and let me show you a brief selection of SAP Mentors, to illustrate my point.

A short diversion – SAP Mentors

Dennis Howlett. “Never knowingly underspoken” is Dennis’s motto (or it should be). He’s probably SAP’s top blogger and his knowledge of both people and SAP process is unparalleled. He’s also famous for his acerbic tone and I’ve heard it said more than once that if anyone else were to take the tone that Dennis takes, they would be sent to Coventry. Or perhaps a padded room in Waldorf that they keep for special people.

Owen Pettiford. Owen is an expert on SAP Composite Applications and runs Comprise IT and has been a huge proponent of the SOA space within SAP technology.

D J Adams. DJ is a true Enterprise Geek and comes from the annals of time. I’m making him sound old, but he’s an Android aficionado and speaks on all manner of Enterprise topics like Cloud and Virtualization. He is also a fan of Real Beer.

Phil Kisloff. Phil is a workflow expert for Cap Gemini turned PI and BPM architect.

Me. I run a technology business unit in a UK based SAP Systems Integrator called Bluefin Solutions and I probably have a bit of all those people in me. I certainly share Dennis’s sardonic nature and I can have a good hack at technology as well. I’m probably best kept away from real SAP systems as a result.

Note that I’m not trying to create a hall of fame here and there’s 95 other Mentors with their own stories that are just as amazing. I’ve just picked this list because these are the guys that will be on the stand at the conference. And would you imagine them all in a bar together? Not likely? Well I can tell you that this group gets on like a house on fire and having experienced it first hand in Sapphire NOW Orlando, I can’t believe how this bizarre and unusual group of people get on.

Back to today

I’ve gone to the User Group UK & Ireland conference for the last 2 years and to be honest I wasn’t going to go this year. The reason for this is multifold, but I felt that it wasn’t adding a lot of value to me and I didn’t have a speaking slot or anyone to go and specifically see. So when Dennis Howlett came and nonchalantly noted that we had a “shell” and he was going to setup some meetings with senior SAP executives, I wasn’t particularly enthused to get involved. He hadn’t had much of a reaction from the SAP Mentor community and presumably felt he had done his bit and expected something back from others.

I thought back to the “that bunch of weirdos” comment and realised that I was at an inflection point.On the one hand I could put my head down and not go to the conference, or I could do something about it. One of the key attributes of a SAP Mentor is the ability to “Do The Needful”, as we call it – and just talking about stuff isn’t enough. And so here I am, 2 weeks later. Slightly tired and looking a bit worse for wear.

Somehow we managed (no small thanks to Mark Finnern and Aslan as usual) to get Doris Pfeiffner’s pictures of TechEd Berlin and Las Vegas onto my PC – no mean feat when there were hundreds of huge 15MP photographs to download from her professional camera. And then turned this into a huge 7m x 2.5m (22’ x 8’) set of skins to go on our stand. 

And so if you want to know how this bunch of weirdos are part of the SAP community, then please come and see as at the SAP UK & Ireland User Group Conference 2010. We will be the richer for your input, and hopefully you will be as well.

And here is the stand, in technicolour glory!

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  1. Martin English
    One of the things that impresses me about people like Allan Clarkson, Hugh MacLeod, Richard Branson, and so on, is their extreme, occasionally mad (i.e. medically insane) enthusiasm for what they do. From your own perspective, there may not appear to be any value in what they do, but it is their enthusiasm that drives them to produce new ways of doing things.  At the opposite end of the scale, we’ve all met people who wait for things to happen (in SAP terms, it is the team lead who never lets you code OO ABAP because they never bothered learning to understand it).  The SAP mentors are the former, the people who innovate and lead because they can’t imagine life without doing so.

    Speaking as a non SAP mentor, if the guys you’ve mentioned (and the many SAP mentors I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with) are weirdos, then I hope for the day when weird becomes the new normal.

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    1. John Appleby Post author
      Martin as I know you, I know you up epitomize this sentiment. My tema know that OO concepts are core to being employed in the first place.

      Bring on the weird. You are spot on.

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  2. Michelle Crapo
    I think it’s save to say – I agree we are all nuts.  Or at least everyone I’ve met so far.   I believe SAP was a bad word at one time!

    So when you say SAP mentor – you must be saying something bad about that person 🙂

    Now you’ve got a group of people who truely love SAP.   Yes – Weird is a good title.

    Michelle

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