One of the most common questions that seems to be raised within the SAP community is “how can I get involved?” The people asking these questions are looking for advice as how they can start a career within SAP (not work directly FOR SAP but to work WITH a SAP Partner/ customer role). Personally I think it is great that there are people out there who aspire to work within the SAP environment.
Within SCN there are a number of good blogs and sources that provide guidance to “newbies”. One of the most popular is the blog written by Ravi Sankar Venna
– http://scn.sap.com/community/training-and-education/certification/blog/2013/07/03/how-to-transform-yourself from-fresher-to-staunch-sap-consultant This provides some good tips as to core focus points and areas that an individual can use to consume more information and improve core skills.
In a few weeks time the consultancy I work for will welcomea new bunch of graduates to the world of SAP and their professional careerswill start. They are entrusting their short term progression to the program werun as well as having the expectation of learning skills around businessengagement, SAP functionality and core consulting skills. They are excitingtimes where we need to match their enthusiasm and passion, and keep themgrounded to ensure they dont try to run before they can walk. Having workedwith the previous groups I have learnt that their expectations are different tothat of mine. This got me thinking about a great blog by Pete Wells – around generation“Y” and their expectations. http://www.bluefinsolutions.com/insights/guest_blog/thriving_with_generation_y_in_the_workplace_the_role_of_it/
One of the key messages of Pete’s blog is the “want it all –now” attitude that is prevalent within this group. I think there are some synergies here between those who are asking advice around a career with SAP and the “want it all – now” attitude of the current generation. There is a sense of entitlement – I am owed a career within SAP because of various reasons which in my opinion is misguided. As a youngster I like many millions of others wantedto play football for a professional club (soccer to my friends in the US). I was simply not good enough, however I still play football every week, and evenmanage a junior team. I never felt entitled to a career within football, it wasmore of an aspiration.
The message of a career within SAP seems to have attracted a great deal of attention. It seems there is a perception of status and skill as well as modest rewards for a good career. So the question is always “what do I have to do, to be a SAP consultant?” This is fine and a normal response and logic. However the individual needs to look closer and ask a more direct question – “what skills do I CURRENTLY possess that a future employer is looking for?”
It is important to recognise the difference between a skill and a qualification. Having a degree or a masters indicates a certain level of education – however it does not necessarily indicate that you have the relevant skills for the job you are applying for. There are some many different roles an individual could have to work “with” SAP it is hard to provide relevant skills as each role will be looking for different aspects. Some require strong technical skills in terms of programming, whilst others might focus on analytically skills or business process knowledge. Identifying where youhave strengths in some of these common skills should help the individual identify what type of roles they would perform better at and be more suited to. It is worth pointing out an “interest” in Finance is not a skill in “Finance”.
One of the key skills that can be overlooked is that of “team work”. SAP solutions are most commonly implemented and managed via projects full of different SAP specialists. A successful implementation should never be attributed to the efforts of a single individual. Whilst they may have excelled it is almost always the team that brings the solution to life and ensures
success. Therefore from an employers’ point of view identifying “team playing” characteristics is essential when looking for a future employee. Further to this, for the employee it is important to be surrounded by others who you trust and believe to be excellent at their chosen SAP discipline. I have firsthand experience of working within excellent teams, full of excellent consultants, in general this leads to successful implementations and the ability to tackle complicated issues that could derail the project. I have learnt from the way others engage in terms of the style of communication, or simple technical and functional tips that others might share and I use some of these traits and knowledge in the way I work.
For the truly ambitious “generation Y” looking to break into the world of SAP they need to ensure they interview and grill future employers as to the quality of the teams which they will be working with. Being told that you cannot be promoted until certain standards have been met might seem like a way to block progression; however what is actually means is that the team you will work with are well skilled and will be more useful for your career progression. Following the crowd and moving into
popular areas of SAP might seem to be a sensible move, however if you dont have the suitable skills to excel in this area you wont be as attractive to employers compared to others that do. Spending time identifying the required skills your future employer is looking for will enable you to articulate the skills you have back to the employer which in turn will make their job easier and you more attractive.