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What it means to me to be an SAP Mentor



This is the official description of an SAP Mentor Initiative:


“SAP Mentors are the top community influencers of the SAP Ecosystem. Most of the ~100 mentors work for customers or partners of SAP. All of them are hands-on experts of an SAP product or service, as well as excellent champions of community-driven projects. Watch: SAP Mentor Introduction Slides with commentary. SAP Mentor Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



To me, being an SAP Mentor Initiative means much more – and more than I can describe in one sentence. Here is an attempt:


  • An amazing group of people that I am humbled to be a part of
  • A support system of smart and caring people
  • Mentor values
  • SAP experts
  • Access to SAP executives at SAPPHIRE NOW and SAP TechEd
  • The opportunity to learn from the best
  • Celebrating winners at Innojam/Demojam
  • A professional and personal network
  • Pride
  • And I could go on…


But let me begin from the start…

While working for SCN for three years, I had the privilege of getting to know many of the mentors online, via their blogs, phone calls and projects on SCN. In addition, we got to to know each other in person at the SAPPHIRE NOWs and SAP TechEds in the USA and EMEA.



With SAP Mentors John Appleby, Jon Reed and Martin Gillet at SAP TechEd Las Vegas 2010.


I had always admired this group for their skill set but also their spirit. For such a diverse group, there is incredible team spirit, and many shared values (without acting exclusive).


In my job for SCN, I was responsible for organizing the expert networking sessions in the Clubhouse at TechEd, but I could no longer support this activity when I moved into a new role in the social media area.  Always up for some good fun and challenging the “authorities”, a few mentors decided to start a #NataschaToTechEd campaign on Twitter and SAP Idea Place. They actually managed to get Mark Yolton, the head of SCN, to pay for my trip, and to convince my manager to let me go :-). (THANK YOU!)



The picture above is taken at SAP TechEd, where Jon, myself, John, and Mark Yolton #nataschatoteched – A tale of two cities. on camera.



That was in 2010, and this spring I became a proud SAP Mentor. It really was an amazingly happy day in my life! I am the first marketing person to be bestowed with this honor and I take it seriously. From day one, I’ve been thinking about how I can make a contribution to the group.


Right after becoming a mentor, I reached out to my new peers via the @SAPMentors Twitter handle, which is always very active, to get some tips and advice on how to make the most out of my mentorship. Some said they thought I was already a mentor and others told me “just keep doing what you are doing”. That warmed my heart :-). I also had some phone calls (you know who you are) that provided me with some very good guidance and ideas.



Above a screenshot from the Monday mentor webinar that announced the spring 2011 newbie mentors. Second right at the top is “mentor handler” Mark Finnern.


I also got some hazing. Somebody Tweeted me a picture of a “mentor tattoo”, telling me I had to get one, and there was talk about a mentor hazing “activity” at the next SAPPHIRE NOW conference (more about that below).


Live Get Togethers

Susan Keohan had the idea to organize a flash mob for Mark Finnern at SAPPHIRE in Orlando, and it fell to me as a newbie to take the lead.  Unfortunately, there is no live footage of the flash mob as the video mostly captured the bottom of a (to remain unnamed) person, who was standing in front of the camera.


Here a short clip of what it COULD HAVE looked like. I got to practice the Macarena flash mob moves at Denver airport on route to Orlando with my SAP colleague Birgit Starmanns (directed by TK Ranga):




Mark had also planned some hazing for the new mentors at the “wolf pack” meeting the night before SAPPHIRE NOW.  I had the dubious pleasure of singing “99 Luftballons” (= 99 Red Balloons) in front of the crowd through a megaphone (luck for you, there is no recording):



 Singing “99 Luftballons” at my first mentor get together.



It was really great to receive the famous blue mentor shirt, which I put on immediately (of course):



With SAP Mentors Greg Chase, Jamie Oswald and Martin Gillet.



How Do You Identify an SAP Mentor (if he/she is not wearing the blue shirt?


 The mentor tie (sorry for the terrible shot):




The mentor scarf: 



Of course, there are also mentor stickers, but those could be used by “fans” 🙂 (my all-time favorite mentor sticker is “I stop at every user exit”:





The future…

There is so much more to say about the mentors, especially in terms of their product and services expertise and the insane amount of activites they are involved in, including social media. But I hope that my “journey in pictures” gave you a small insight into what the SAP Mentor wolf pack is otherwise made out of: a group of really caring people, who like to help, make a difference and have fun.


If I would change one thing about the SAP Mentor program it would be to give it better exposure. Many people inside and outside of SAP still do not know of or understand the program.  I am in marketing, while most mentors are fairly technical – so I hope to add value by using my (social media) marketing skills to help bring the program to a greater audience.  Let me know if you have ideas to share!



The best picture for last… 

I simply love this picture of a group of SAP Mentors at a meeting at SAPPHIRE NOW 2011 in Orlando with SAP Co-founder Hasso Plattner and Co-CEO Jim Habemann Snabe:





To close…


To create some balance (to my view of the world), I sent out a Tweet to the @SAPMentors this morning, asking what being a mentor means to them: 


  1. @SAPMentors For a blog I am writing, please tell me what it means to u to be a mentor in 140 characters or less within the hour 🙂
  2. @nathomson To see beyond what is, and be a passionate advocate for what can be. To see potential greatness in humble beginnings. @SAPMentors
  3. @nathomson @sapmentors For me it is a great honor and privilege to be a Mentor..I have learned so much receiving & giving back gr8 group
  4. RT @thorstenster: @nathomson To see beyond what is, and be a passionate advocate for what can be. To see potential greatness in humble beginnings. @SAPMentors
  5. @nathomson @sapmentors for me, it’s to represent with passion.
  6. @nathomson @sapmentors To help people to find the right answers
  7. @SAP_Jarret @sapmentors @thorstenster ‘was rather thinking #troublemaker #teethgrinder but alright !
  8. RT @finnern: Now that @sapmentors are called new #kingmakers by @monkchips work flows just a bit easier this morning 🙂 Thanks!
  9. Don’t miss @SAPMentors portraits from Madrid: cc @boobboo @gregorwolf @oliver @qmacro @thorstenster @steinermatt more!
  10. RT @kgrovetx: #FF To all @SAPMentors Amazing group that keep the #SCN content relevant and the community growing. — Thanks!
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  • Hello Natascha

    I had the honor to meet up with a lot of SAP Mentors at SAP TechED 2011 in Madrid and what I saw where a group of passionate experts who want to help SAP improve their products, who are humble, approachable, inspiring and are always having tons of fun (#suithugger tag, flash mob for Marilyn etc...).

    I do have to say that most people (especially people who are not active on SCN) do not know about the SAPMentors. Even within SAP they are not always known. So I definitely think it's a good idea to get more exposure for the SAPMentors.

    I hope I can also meet you in person soon (perhaps Cloud & Virtualization week 2012).

    Kind regards


    • Tom:

      if you make it to the Palo Alto office, I'll come in specially to meet you! That would be fabulous. For me, you are 100% mentor-material :-).



    • Hello Tom,

      I would second you on the opinion that not many knew Mentors in the tech-ed,in my case Bangalore.
      I was little perplexed when I explained one of my team members in Design Thinking group, whose from SAP, about SAP mentors.


  • Nice piece Natascha! The pictures really tell the story I think with the vibrancy of the people involved...

    I actually did tweet my own ideas about being a Mentor in addition to retweeting Thorsten. 🙂

    What I had said was, "@nathomson for me it's about being constantly challenged towards excellence with a bunch of creative/fun hackers and truthseekers..."

    It is always fun to be a part of this group and more than that, the community around us.

    - Jon

    • Ha ha, glad you added your own Tweet here. I thought you maybe just agreed so much with Thorsten :-).

      It's true what two people told me, TweetDeck does not show all of your Tweets if there is a high volume, unless you go to directly. Bummer.

      You were the first mentor I got to know and love, Dear Jon.



  • It has been great to see several articles in the past few weeks on the SAP mentor program as I think the word is getting out slowly but sadly among SAP customers it is still not very well known.

    Like Jon I also tweeted my thoughts and what I said was, "@nathomson For me: It is about representing the SAP community & customers while learning, sharing, networking & having fun along the way"

    Watching the SAP mentors over the past several years it always struck me what an extremely impressive group of people it was. Having been a mentor for the past 3 months has made to realize what a truly special group it is and the foundation and leadership is there for it to continue and make a real difference.

    • I always thought you were already a mentor :-). Thanks for adding your Tweet here. I also used Stori.fy to gather all the Tweets on the topic but obviously that did not work either.

      Warm regards,


  • I know there is some meme on twitter about a kitty dying every time someone says: "Gamechanging" in the SAP context (thanks John Appleby ) but perhaps SAP Mentors are Gamemakers and not just Trouble Makers.  Finnern did an excellent job of pointing out some examples in his most recent blog:  Culture Jamming SAP . I must admit I generally feel like (in the words of Grocho Marx) PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION.
    But I'm not resigning quite yet.  There is still game creating stuff to be done 😉
    Thanks Natascha for being "a player".
  • Hello Natascha,
    When I saw your tweet for definition of mentors in 140 words, I was under the impression that it would cover Mentor community as such. However, blog contains much more and the entire journey of a mentor.


    • That's awfully nice of you to say. There are so many more aspects to cover on the mentor, unfortunately blogging takes so much time. But more to come. Maybe a blog from each of the person who commented here to share their views?



    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, and glad you concur. Could not see anything when I pasted the link into my browser, do I have to be a Lockerz member?