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UA Spotlight Series: SAP Support Team Manager and UA Liaison – Alan Fahey

Alan Picture.jpgUniversity Alliances (UA) spotlights UA Liaison Alan Fahey a Support Team Manager for SAP Ireland. SAP Ireland’s internship program now incorporates TERP10 training and certification allowing student interns to advance their skill set and broaden their career opportunities.

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

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you currently located? A fun fact or hobbies that you would like to share with the community? And your relationship to SAP?

I’m a SAP Support Team Manager (STM) as part of the Active Global Support (AGS) Primary Support channel team based in Dublin, Ireland. My primary responsibility is to manage two teams of message solvers for the product areas of Human Capital Management and Business Warehouse.

Message solvers are very technical (also known as “techies”) who work directly with SAP customers to provide solutions to their technical questions and issues. I’ve worked in support with SAP for 12 years, first as a techie and now as a manager of techies.

Prior to this, I had 4 years of SAP implementation experience onsite as a customer. I also act as the University Alliance (UA) liaison for SAP Ireland, working closely with UA Manager, Martin Gollogly, to drive increased membership and active participation in the UA program. Chronically shameless, when I’m not trying to help SAP employees and customers succeed, I can usually be found in the nearest Karaoke bar!

Tell us about the TERP10 initiative with your student interns and how it supports your SAP activities.

In recent years, the SAP Ireland operation has grown to over 1200 people and continues to expand its technical skill set, responsibilities and lines of business (LOB). As such we need a ready supply of well qualified and experienced graduates to fill very challenging roles that follow a variety of career paths. 

Our Internship program involves 70+ students across 10 LOBs with TERP10 as the foundation training for all interns. TERP10 supports SAP’s global ambition to stabilize and grow our core business while giving students a “drive-thru” of the full business suite. Any future role within SAP, whether in Mobile, In-Memory Databases (also known as SAP HANA) or Cloud technologies, will require a solid understanding of SAP’s core business applications and operations, something our interns will have already mastered.

In the initial round of this program, all of your student interns passed the TERP10 certification, a 100% record. Did you provide any additional learning resources, experiences or support that impacted the learning?

2012 was the first time we delivered TERP10 internally at SAP Ireland, so we approached the material with some trepidation. Our experienced support teams are experts in specific elements of the Business Suite. We leveraged this experience and assigned a separate trainer to each of the chapters over the 2 weeks. We provided students with a different expert trainer in each topic with the objective of enriching the material with real life experiences of the software in action.

Additional expertise was provided to help with exercises and problems as they arose, with the student/teacher ratio of about 5:1. Even with this level of “hot-housing” the pass rate for the first attempt was disappointingly low. We reviewed the experience with trainers and students alike, and realized that we had been teaching the material with a bias toward the technical areas SAP customers have the most difficulties with; an approach that is very much in line with our core mission in customer support.

The TERP10 exam however, tests a much broader understanding of the Business Suite and business processes. A quick review of the material with the students with this consideration in mind improved the pass rate to 100% and will influence our approach to TERP10 in 2013 and beyond.

How does this initiative fit with SAP’s overall learning and personal development strategy?

SAP Ireland aims to hire 80% of our interns into permanent positions. TERP10 offers undergraduate students an opportunity to get hands-on experience with SAP products to a certified standard that will make their application for any SAP job exceptional.

It also offers us a springboard to accelerate the learning of newly hired employees who don’t have SAP experience and acts as a foundation for their basic understanding of the depth of SAP’s Business Suite functionality.

We can then build on this foundation with additional layers of technical and analytical training. It also offers existing experts an opportunity to develop their skills as trainers, working with materials they are already familiar with, and gives them a great deal of confidence to move onto new materials and new challenges.

Please provide us additional background or comments.

The successful partnership between SAP Ireland and UA has contributed to SAP’s profile as an “Employer of Choice” in Ireland. SAP Ireland entered the Top 10 IT employers for recent graduates in 2012. UA offers interesting opportunities for our employees to engage with students and academics as we provide expertise to UA training sessions for academics and additional support to TERP10 students at UA member institutions. Interest in, and active membership of, UA has grown rapidly since this relationship between UA and SAP Ireland began.

SAP Ireland is currently recruiting for 2013 internships from all Irish 3rd level institutions. I tweet about the UA, internships, our daily work at SAP and recruitment as @AlanFSAP.

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