Blog it forward – Stephen McDougall
Hi, I’m Stephen McDougall, a Customer Solutions Manager with SAP in Canberra. I was recently mentioned in Blog It Forward – Des Fisher. Here is my background, and the answers to Des’ questions.
I grew up in Winston Hills, which is in northwest Sydney suburbia. I had a great childhood which involved soccer, cricket, golf and that great Australian kid pastime, playing in the bush. I have one brother and one sister. My brother is a senior paramedic, so when I feel like I am getting stressed in my job I try and step back and think of other jobs that are more stressful than mine; and my brother’s job in particular. That sort of thinking helps me to keep my ‘problems’ in perspective.
I attended the University of Western Sydney where I completed a Bachelor of Business. My first job out of uni was at Price Waterhouse where I was involved in the ‘exciting’ world of tax returns and financial audits. The upside was that I was able to work with a bunch of talented and smart people that constantly challenged me to learn more.
The World of SAP
I had other jobs before moving to SAP but my SAP journey began about 18 years ago. I was working as an accountant at Optus Communications, which is the second largest telco in Australia, and to be quite frank, I was bored. The month-end routine was doing my head in, and I was looking for a change. As luck would have it, Optus was implementing SAP, and I remember like it was yesterday, the Project Manager said to me one day, “come and work on the SAP project, it will be worth your while”. Fateful words at a time in the mid-90s when SAP was relatively unheard of. I joined the Optus SAP team as a Subject Matter Expert in Financials and continued to work for Optus for another 2 years. I worked with people like Paul McLean, who still works for SAP today and gave me a positive reference many years later when I applied for a role at SAP. The lesson here is to always maintain good working relationships. You never know when people will come back into your life, hopefully to make a difference in a positive way.
In those days I was very influenced by the new breed of ‘SAP consultants’, those who had taken their knowledge on the road and were making a good living out of it. He may not realise it, but David Iceton who was at Deloitte at the time, was one consultant I remember as having a very calm and professional attitude. I did a stint at KPMG to see if I could be one of those people, and as it turned out, I could. I found that the ability to problem-solve was a great asset, and other people were willing to pay to have their business problems solved with an SAP solution. Then Y2K struck, and there was an exodus of consultants from Australia to both Europe and the US. This was another inflection point in my life. My girlfriend (who has since become my wife) and I packed up at very short notice and moved to the US. We were able to spend 5 years there and look on that period in our lives with great fondness. We have made lots of great friends in the US and were able to catch up with some of them when we were there in April last year.
We moved back to Australia about 8 years ago and settled in Canberra. We have 2 beautiful daughters and enjoy spending all the time we can
Now to Des’ questions
1) SAP’s software portfolio has grown a lot over the last 5 years. What effect on the SAP Community have you seen as a result?
I have a great depth of knowledge in SAP’s Financial solutions, but I also used to know a little bit about most SAP solutions within Utilities and Public Sector. With the great increase in solutions, really since Business Suite in 2005, I have now given up and accept that I can’t learn everything. We now have people that only deal with BI, EIM, and database! Those roles didn’t exist in an SAP world in the mid-90s. We now have people coming to the community with little to no ‘SAP’ experience, and this is a good thing. Des is one of these people, and his influence in the SAP Canberra sphere has been extraordinary. He is greatly missed now that he is Singapore (but I wouldn’t tell him that).
2) It’s 06:30 on a Saturday in summer, and you’ve been woken up by the cockatoos. The wife and kids are away. What do you do next?
What is this ‘6.30’ you speak of? I checked my clocks and it doesn’t exist on any of them.
In my spare time (at a more suitable hour) I like to play the drums and go mountain-biking. I just bought a Trek SuperFly 29’er (30 gears and very light) and I never realised how much fun going uphill could be. My wife and our girls also ride so we get out whenever we can. Mountain biking is one of the many reasons to live in our Nation’s capital. 🙂
3) What will you be doing when you’re 50?
Our legal department has ruined me, I can’t say ‘will’ to anything in the future. 😀
I really enjoy working in the SAP space,18 years so far, so I can’t imagine that I will have some dramatic career change. Outside of work, my most important focus in the next few years will be to help our kids grow up to be caring human beings that can make good decisions. My parents did that for me and that theory seems to work well.
So who’s next? There are so many people that I respect and enjoy working with in SAP, but I choose Brenda Banning, because I never tire of hearing her story; and Rowena Westphalen, honorary Canberran and quite possibly tied to royalty somewhere in her lineage. Both Brenda and Rowena are perfect examples of people with no SAP background, making a big difference to SAPers that have worked with them.
My 3 questions are:
- How did you get into the wonderful world of IT?
- Your flight is delayed by fog in Canberra for 4 hours. What do you do?
- What gets your heart racing?