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My journey so far (Part 1)

Namaste from India!

After much persuasion by the community members and my SAP FICO students, I thought of coming up with a blog to describe my journey so far in the 7+ yrs of my SAP career. Being an Indian at heart, the one thing you will always shy away from is to tell about yourself. So, with much courage and careful choice of words to restrict this blog to be a guiding factor for many existing and aspiring consultants (not just SAP consultants), I decided to come up with a blog categorized into 2 parts.

The 1st part would speak about how destiny dropped me at the door of SAP consulting career and my initial days and the 2nd blog would speak about how I manage(d) my work/data/information to deliver more with less effort and utilize the time saved to deliver/add value, not just in my professional life, but personal life too

So, here I go with the 1st blog

I am from a town called Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh,India. Though I owe my roots to Rajasthan (the place well known for tourism and hospitality), I was born and brought up in Andhra Pradesh. My entire schooling is from the same state and I hold a Bachelors degree at Commerce (2002) and the prestigious CMA qualification (2002) from India. I stood at 6th place all over India during the CMA entrance examination and at 3rd place all over India during CMA Final exam, a feat that catapulted me into my 1st job. Dedication towards education was infused into me right since childhood and I remember the words of my father till date “I have no money / property to give to you. All I can give you is education”.  That dedication made me find my own ways (techniques) to deal with my studies.

I still remember the shocked look on my face when I received a call for the interview to my 1st job and they offered to sponsor my travel for the interview with an AC Train ticket, something which was a distant dream for me till then. I thought even a general (Non AC) ticket would have done and I would have gone all the way in the scorching heat of May even in a general compartment of the train, something we were always used to.

 

Two things I would admit – One, I have always been a special child of the god and Two, I have always worked with good superiors, rich in knowledge and generous at heart. Though I was recruited for the Head office position, I was transferred to the manufacturing location (WERKS), something I cursed then, but later realized was the best thing for me. My boss there was an awesome person and his way of teaching was that he does not teach at all. He asked me to find my own way, go inside the manufacturing facility, see how the operations are performed, what are their challenges and learn from them. It was very irritating as it was a Pharmaceutical plant and I had to change my uniforms each time I entered into a specific area of the plant. But, there was no other way I could have learned so much.

I involved myself in the annual budgeting exercise of that company where there used to be rigorous interactions with various functions within the company and that formed the foundation of my career. This was the company I became an expert in MS Excel at and later on became an end user on SAP when the company decided to go for SAP ERP package. I saw the best of all the worlds – working in excel based legacy system, working in an ERP system and the challenges of a newly implemented ERP system. Since I was based out of manufacturing location, I was not authorized to have too many authorizations in SAP. Any profitability related transaction codes was a taboo word for us. COPA / PCA was an alien for me. CK11N (Calculation of cost estimates) – Access to BOM/Routing – And a few authorizations to cost center reports was all my world there.  

Call me lazy or what – but I cannot accept things unless they are simple. The report S_ALR_87013611 was the one I had to access to download the expense data related to each cost center to prepare the monthly MIS report. You have to copy the data for each cost center and paste it in excel as the report does not provide the option to export for all cost centers in one go. I fought for this and got an ABAP ALV report developed. Few other pieces of information which would take lot of my time to gather them, I got SQVI queries developed for them. And guess what, I sneaked into the desktop of the IT guy and learned
how to do it. After that it was a means of fun for me and I mastered at it. I can confidently say that by the time left that organization after 36 months, I simplified lot many things for them

My next stint was in an IT company called Wipro, my 1st SAP job. I had no ambitions whatsoever to achieve anything in SAP when I entered the IT Industry, as I had no idea what the SAP career is all about and what all can be achieved in it. I entered this career for the fun of travelling, meeting lot of people and ofcourse for learning quickly 

We got a very basic training in SAP FI in Wipro. We were 17 accountants that were recruited and trained there and I was the 1st one to leave that organization in a span of 4 months. Two things that I did in those span of 4 months are still close to my heart as an achievement. 

                1) I asked our trainer how does the depreciation posts to the respective cost centers which owns the asset. I knew its possible because it used to be like that in my earlier organization. The answer I got was it is not possible and the whole depreciation has to be posted in a default cost center for all assets. I could not accept it and that was the 1st time I googled to find a thread in SCN. I cracked the issue and I remember the pleasure it gave. This is the charm of consulting that you feel yourself on cloud 9 when you learn something new

                2) Controlling module configuration was still greek n latin for me. But I had to learn it by all means. But with no one around to teach, I was forced to do what Rabindranath Tagore said “Walk alone, if no one wakes up to your call”. I started to replicate the CO-PC (Product costing) scenario of my earlier
company into the test system provided to us. The design was there in my mind but I had no idea whatsoever how to configure it in the system. Lots of trial and errors helped me produce the same result in the test system.

In these 4 months, I started appearing as the 2nd top contributor in IT Toolbox. Contributions were measured then in terms of no. of posts. Most of my posts were answers, than the questions, with whatever little knowledge I had then

The next destination was IBM for me. When I appeared for an interview with IBM, it was the opening for a CO consultant. I still had no idea about controlling till then, except for the end user experience I had and some basic stints that I made in the test system as mentioned above. It was a tough interview of 45 mins and I cleared it. That day I realized how much I knew about the system and its data flow without knowing almost anything about the configuration, all because of the process oriented experience that I got in my 1st organization. I still had not seen any COPA/PCA screen till the date of interview with IBM,
but I realized the importance of knowing Product costing (not the CO-PC in SAP, but how the costing system functions in general).

I got my 1st implementation assignment in IBM and I was on cloud 9 once again. Again I would say, God set the stage ready for me. I got this assignment because of my boss in my 1st company. He knew the IBM project manager well and when I spoke to him, I was selected. I would say the IBM project manager was a rare species, a man with mountain of confidence. I was a fresh SAP CO consultant and along with me was a fresh FI consultant (who later on became my life partner) in the project. I till date salute the guts of the project manager to make such a decision to have both FI and CO consultants who are  as good as freshers. More than faith in us, he had faith in himself that he can get it delivered from us.

Both of us were asked to present ourselves as experienced /senior consultants infront of the client. My FI colleague (or you can say, my wife) sailed through. But I failed disastrously as I stammer a bit and speaking a lie aggravates it like anything. The client ordered to fire me from the project, but my project manager resisted. So, there was a consultant who knew nothing about SAP CO and had to deliver the assignment with a sword hanging on his head the whole 9 months. Only hope of rescue was the project manager himself, who was a Stalwart CO consultant of his time. I thought I would deliver under his technical guidance. One fine day, I was called into his cabin and what transpired next sent the shivers down my spine. The words were “Dont expect that I am going to help you technically. If I start getting into your job, then who will do mine”. It was a clear message that tough days were ahead for me..

The next blog would continue from here which would speak about how I survived, and how/what the situation taught me and how I kept building one block after the other.

Thanks for reading my blog!!

Br, Ajay Maheshwari

PS: Link to Part 2 is here. (Updated on 25.11.2013)

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