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UA Spotlight Series: Associate Director Ross Hightower

Hightower.jpgUniversity Alliances (UA) spotlights University Competence Center (UCC) Associate Director Ross Hightower from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who shares his background and UA experiences including teaching TERP10 and developing mobile curricula.

The goal of this series is to exchange insights with UA professors, lecturers, and staff from around the world and share their experiences. View UA Spotlight blog posts.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where you live? What university and department you’re currently a professor with? A fun fact or hobbies that you’d like to share with the community?

I was born, raised and lived most of my life in the south but I find myself living in Wisconsin where I joined the staff of the UCC at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) as the Associate Director. Although I know winter is coming (as everyone I meet in Milwaukee reminds me), it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced a real Fall and, so far, I’m loving it. It’s been a busy time but I still find some time to brew some beer, a personal passion.

You have had an interesting career and SAP journey from Florida to Texas and now Milwaukee; How long have you been active as a UA professor? Tell us how you have made SAP-related connections along the way.

When Bob Szymanski and I volunteered to take on the ERP initiative at the University of Central Florida (UCF) we really had no idea what we were getting into but it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career.

My first experience with SAP at the Curriculum Congress in Atlanta was overwhelming. I wasn’t sure where to begin but we dove in and have been learning ever since. Bob and I had a blast building a successful ERP program at UCF and along the way we found in the University Alliance a passionate, friendly, supportive community.

Unfortunately, UCF decided that MIS was not in their future and Bob and I went our separate ways. I found myself at Texas A&M for two years teaching ERP classes in the Supply Chain Management program. About a year ago Dave Haseman approached me about moving to UWM. I’m excited about the new opportunity and feel very fortunate to be in a position to give back to the University Alliance community.

Based on your experience in teaching the certification academy, “TERP10” (a.k.a. Integration of Business Processes in SAP ERP), how do you see it preparing students to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace?

Not long after I started teaching the TERP10 I was talking to someone with 15 years experience using SAP. While I was explaining SAP University Alliances I described the TERP10 certification. He had never heard of it but after hearing what it was about he decided to take the class himself. His reaction to the class was that he wished he had taken it at the beginning of his career. Despite his years of experience, he never understood the underlying logic of SAP ERP. TERP10 gives students the broad perspective that helps them rise above the small details to see the larger scope of the business processes embedded in the system. That gives them a competitive advantage.

You have been co-developing Mobile curricula; at a high level, how do you think it will help professors and students around the globe?

There is no doubt the world is going mobile. Being able to develop enterprise class applications in a mobile environment is a key skill set for management information systems and information technology students entering the workforce. While the tools available in the SAP Mobile Platform are powerful and easy to use, the initial learning curve can be daunting. We hope the new mobile curriculum will allow professors to quickly introduce mobile development into their courses and allow students to gain a solid foundation for more advanced learning.

How can students benefit from the UAC and UA Career Resource Center? What do they enjoy most about the new Jive platform?

I have so many students come to me asking how to get a job in the SAP world. One thing I tell them is to develop an appreciation for the SAP Ecosystem. One way that any student can do that is by getting to know the SAP Community Network. It’s a big site and can be a little daunting but I start them out by showing them the UA Career Resource Center. It lets them learn a little about what kinds of careers are possible with SAP and get’s them familiar with the SCN site.

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      Very interesting!  I agree that the UA Career Resource Center is a very good place for students to start their SCN journey.  Thank you for sharing your experiences about the TERP10 and the mobile curricula.  I look forward to reading how that progresses.  I've taught Enterprise Systems and Business Processes for a couple of years and I have about 7 years of SAP experience in the materials and production environments.  You raised my curiosity when you mentioned the experienced SAP person who found so much value in the TERP10 course.  There is so much to learn!  I can see how a concentration on the "broad framework" could add so much value and fill in those knowledge gaps.