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University Alliances (UA) spotlights Brian Rizman a young professional working for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Brian took UA Program courses during his studies at St. Joseph’s University and is now applying these skills in his work with SAP-related clients.

The goal of the UA Spotlight Series is to exchange insights with professors, lecturers, students, researchers and the entire SAP ecosystem and community.

Rizman.jpgTell us a bit about yourself. Where are you currently located? A fun fact or hobbies that you would like to share with the community?

I am from central New Jersey and just moved back to the US, to New York City, after 3 years in London. Prior to moving to London, I spent 7 years in Philadelphia: 4 of which were at Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) and 3 working professionally. One of the things I love to do is to travel. I’ve had the opportunity, through work and personal, to visit over 50 countries.

Currently as I share this update, I am sitting in Munich, where I’ve been working on an SAP implementation project for the past 18 months which spans the US, Germany, Finland, France, Switzerland, Hungary and China.

Which university did you graduate from? What was your major? When and how did you first hear about SAP?  Which classes used SAP software and/or curricula in the classroom?

I went to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and had the pleasure of studying Accounting, which is where my relationship with SAP began. Professor Joseph Ragan over 10 years ago started a program at SJU called STAR Scholars. STAR is an acronym for what it means to be a “Student Technologist to Assist and Re-engineer,” where the focus was enabling an end-to-end accounting program using technology and SAP.

Luckily, during freshman year, one of my friends told me about STAR and in meeting Professor Ragan and the other STARs, I knew this was something for me.  Through STAR, I had the opportunity to both take and deliver intermediate as well as advanced level accounting classes using SAP. Today, I can proudly tell my clients that I’ve been using SAP for 4 years in addition to my professional experience, and that I learned debits and credits with the SAP system!

While at SJU, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Professor Ragan and other STARs; we presented our work at two SAP University Curriculum Congresses, SAP UA faculty training programs, and as authors on our research at academic conferences across the globe.

Where do you work now?  What SAP-related skills do you use in your job?  How have your experiences with SAP solutions in the classroom helped you in your current job?

Given the experience I had with SAP and Accounting at SJU, I knew I wanted to get exposure to a large international professional services organization and decided to take a career opportunity with PwC.

After quickly being able to show off my SAP skills as an audit intern, I joined PwC’s Systems and Process Assurance practice where I supported multiple companies using SAP. As my career progressed, I’ve sat in both our Advisory and Assurance practices, where I work now, providing advice on risk and controls that span a client’s SAP system, while also implementing SAP’s Governance Risk and Controls Technology (GRC).

Currently, I am working with a global manufacturing company alongside their SAP business transformation program and am responsible for managing their SAP security and authorizations as well as GRC implementation.

Early in my career, I was able to realize the value of having SAP embedded into the classroom, especially the accounting curriculum, during an experience on one of my first client’s. Having fondly remembered studying and teaching the “Procure to Pay” process where we learned of transaction code ME21N for creating purchase orders. It was absolutely fascinating to walk into the office of one of my client’s and see the exact ME21N screen that I’ve used hundreds of times on her computer screen. It was fun to actually order real materials!

What do you like most about the University Alliances Community on the new Jive platform? How does this help improve your SAP knowledge? Would you refer it to a friend or colleague?

I think the University Alliance Community is absolutely fantastic, and a dynamic and fun way to interact with a variety of content, people and ideas. What I was extremely impressed with seeing a recent ASUG announcement webcast for the topic of ‘How the SAP University Alliances Program Can Support Your SAP Talent Needs’, because it’s a topic I wholeheartedly believe in. I am proud to say that I already have referred friends and colleagues to the site and webcast announcement.

There have been times over the past few years where we are looking at a new client’s requirements or services and I have thought back to my days with SJU and the University Alliances Program. Similarly, as we watch the demand for SAP services grow at the firm with our increasing client needs, the ability to hire those talented university graduates with a background in SAP is absolutely essential.

The comfort and knowledge of the foundations they received in a program like SJU, STAR and the UA enables us to bring in technical, top quality talent to the firm and or clients, with enough ease that I sent a new hire with similar SAP-related background to work overseas just 3 weeks after joining the firm!

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