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What does it feel like to be named an SAP Mentor?

A long time ago in a life far, far away I got involved in the development of an international standard for a programming language – C++.  The developers among you may have heard of it. It is the language used to write, among many other things, the NetWeaver kernel – the layer that sits between ABAP and the server operating system. When I went to my first meeting, there were a dozen other people already there, none of whom I knew. One of them was Bjarne Stroustrup – the guy who invented the language! And so discussions started. We were talking about faults in the language in the presence of its inventor. Imagine taking about faults in the design of HANA while Hasso Platner is in the room. I was overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy. Why was I there? What could I possibly contribute? Surely these guys know so much more than I do about C++?

Fast forward 20 years and I have the same feelings again. I’ve known a few Mentors for a number of years now, I’ve met a few briefly, and I know many via SCN and Twitter. I respect and admire them all. They know so much about SAP and many other things, know how to apply that knowledge, and are so willing to share it all. And they’re all really nice people too! And now I’ve been asked to join them. It is, of course, and honour and a privilege to be asked. But who am I to be included in their number? What can I possibly contribute?

I was involved in the C++ standardisation process for 5 years. Over those years I got to know those scary, smart people quite well. Many of them became friends. I realised that although they were very smart, they didn’t know everything and that there were things I could contribute after all. Most importantly, I realised that they could occasionally get things wrong and that it was OK for me to get things wrong too, and that willingness to make mistakes would sometimes lead to great discoveries. And I contributed in more ways than I imagined. Looking back on those years I find I really enjoyed them. Looking forward from day one, though, I saw nothing of that.

I’m now at the start of a similar journey into Mentorship, but at least this time I’ve travelled a similar road and I know not to be too scared of it. While I may not yet know what form my contributions will take, I’m sure they will come. Maybe not immediately, but they will come. In the meantime, there’s fun to be had along the way. I’m looking forward to it. Mistakes included.

And remember, Mentors aren’t scary. Smart, yes, but scary, no. To mangle a quote from Finding Nemo – “Mentors are friends, not sharks”

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  • Steve - I am sure you will fit right in.

    The approach to give and share is very important and that is something you do with spades.

    Looking forward to bumping into you shortly - perhaps in Orlando.

    • Orlando is looking unlikely, unfortunately. Looks like it will just be TechEd EMEA for me this year. I'll try and get next year planned a little better. I didn't get a lot of notice this time:-)

      And thanks for the encouragement. I appreciate it.

  • Hi Steve,

    Sometimes your contributions can take interesting turns.  But the right attitude - the willingness to share (as Mark Chalfen noted) as well as the passion to represent the community?  That's the ticket.



  • Hi Steve,

    Very well said.  Oh, and congratulations!

    I agree.  We are all human.  No-one knows it all.  We are all enriched by your voice being in the 'conversation'.  But I won't say 'by adding' your voice to the conversation.  It has always been there, both here and on other channels such as Twitter. 

    Non-mentors reading this should take note ... Mentor or not, everyone has the opportunity to express their views 'at the table' already here on SCN.  Steve has been recognised for his contributions in this area and the expectation that he will continue to do so, but that does not mean your voices can't be heard.



    • Very well put by John. Active contributors to discussions, blogs, wikis or other content in this community are well recognized and really appreciated.

      Congratulations Steve. It sure is still an honor to join the SAP Mentor group, as they have a very good reputation and kinda have a responsibility in my opinion to make the community even better. You'll set a great example for sure!

  • Being in the same boat as you Steve I am feeling the same way. It is nice to hear your story about C++, it helps me too. I very much look forward to collaborating with you as a mentor.

  • Great to have you as part of the "Wolf-Pack" and having followed you on twitter and read your blogs over the past few years I have no doubt you are going to fit in well.

  • So glad you are in the team Steve. My favorite quote about being a mentor is "An SAP Mentor is about being a pain in the neck* in the best possible way"

    Just keep asking SAP and the community the painful questions just like Graham Robinson does: "Are you reading SCN blogs yet?" 

    * the actual quote used a different body part.


  • Great blog post Steve!

    Being six months in I still have these same questions: how to contribute, how to make a difference between all these brilliant people, etc.

    And always having been a bit slow I suspect it will take me a while to really find my spot. But, meanwhile (love the way you express it):

    While I may not yet know what form my contributions will take, I'm sure they will come. Maybe not immediately, but they will come. In the meantime, there's fun to be had along the way. I'm looking forward to it. Mistakes included.


    Cheers, Fred