Colleague Focus: Catching Up With Michele Giblett, De-escalation Architect for BackOffice Core Team, CoE NA
Meet Michele Giblett. Michele works as a de-escalation architect for the BackOffice core team in CoE, NA and has been with SAP for 15 years. Here she discusses her career path, passion for solving critical issues and helping customers, and what drives her to be successful.
When did you start at SAP?
I started at SAP in 1999 in the Austin office, so I’ve been here almost 15 years. In that time, I’ve moved around a little bit. When the Austin office closed in 2001, I moved to Germany. They offered me a position in Philadelphia but it just wasn’t what I wanted at the time. I had been to Germany on two different month long development exchange trips and I made friends, had fun, and, of course, learned so much while I was over there. When my colleagues in Germany heard that the Austin office was closing, I received several phone calls and emails from them. I asked if they would hire me in the EMEA BW COE, and it was difficult because at the time there was a lot of cost cutting as the economy wasn’t doing well. Luckily, it worked out and they were able to hire me, so I picked up my life and moved to Germany. Moving to Germany was one of the best choices I have ever made and working at SAP allowed me to do that. Working there was a fantastic experience. When I started in Germany, it was around the time when Active Global Support was just taking off. We were no longer going to be processing messages; we were going to be part of Active Global Support which meant that we would now go on-site to customers and deliver proactive support services. By moving over to Germany, I was able to travel all over the world. I visited customers in countries all over Europe. I even went to Australia, and Japan. It was an amazing opportunity and learning experience.
What has kept you here for 15 years?
What has kept me at SAP is the excitement, as well as the colleagues. I was just having a conversation with my boss at lunch about this a few weeks ago. After having been here for 15 years, I have to say that I’m really happy and still enjoy my job. Every day in the Back Office is different; no two days look alike. I work on very critical issues and each issue that I work on is new and challenging in different ways. It’s exciting to solve problems and it feels great when we can get our customers back up and running as quickly as possible. Working in AGS for me, is very relaxed in terms of there not being a lot of micromanagement. I feel empowered to get what I need to do done for our customers and to solve problems and I really enjoy working in that kind of environment. I am really lucky that I found my niche, which is really weird, considering my background. I graduated from the University of Texas Austin (Hook ‘em Horns!!) with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and I didn’t really have any formal technical education. My sister was working at a medical software company, so she helped me get an interview for a job doing onsite medical software installations and consulting and it wasn’t difficult for me to get into the world of software and coding. I did that for three years and travelled around the US. I had a friend working at SAP at the time who suggested that I apply at SAP because I wanted to get off the road. It’s funny because I look around and all the people here who have advanced degrees in computer science and engineering, but for me my technical education has really come from working with colleagues and digging in and figuring it out myself, as well as from the training that SAP provides.
What has been one of your biggest learning experiences in your career at SAP?
After 4 ½ years of working in Germany, I decided to move back to the US. I took a role in Palo Alto as a TQM for McKesson, and did that for close to a year. In that role, you are the primary sounding board for the customer and they come to you when they have problems. You are the advocate for that customer at SAP, which in some ways I think I’m really suited to; however, at that time, the TQM role was not near as technical as what I was used to doing. I realized then that I really enjoyed being more involved in the product and digging into the issues and solving difficult technical issues. That was a good learning experience because it really taught me about myself and helped me realize what I truly enjoy doing.
What motivates you to be successful?
It’s hard to answer that because I think so much of someone’s internal drive is genetic. Ever since I was a kid, I was somebody who always wanted to get an A on my test and if I didn’t make the A’s I was upset. As you get older you find that same thing that makes you want to get an A on a test, carries you through as an adult in your day to day work. For me, I’m not satisfied with work I’ve done if I haven’t given it 100%. If I haven’t done everything I could possibly do to turn over every stone, to try to figure out what is going on, I’m not satisfied. I can’t put my finger on what makes me successful at SAP other than I truly enjoy the work that I do and I imagine that plays a big role in it. I like to do this work and it always keeps me interested.
What do you enjoy most about working in the BackOffice?
I like that every day is different. It’s not the same mundane, busy work that you might have at other jobs. It’s stressful, but not too stressful. Some degree of stress kind of gets your blood pumping, which is something I experience every day working in BackOffice. You need to do everything you can to get an issue solved for a customer in the timeframe you have. Every day is different and I like the variety of problems I get to see and the challenge that comes along with that.
What are you passionate about?
The main things I’m passionate about with regards to my work would be solving problems, helping customers, and learning as much as I can in the process. I get very emotionally invested in the issues I’m involved with. I really want to make sure I see everything I’m involved in through to the end. If I can’t solve a problem, I want to make sure that developers or colleagues in other regions know exactly what I’ve done and what I think might be the next steps for the issue. I like to see the whole thing come to an end and be closed and solved. Even on messages that I touch, where I am not able to solve the problem, I learn from these because I follow them and I want to understand how they were solved in the end. Solving problems and understanding how the problems were solved are the things I would say that I’m passionate about for work. Outside of work I am passionate about taking care of my family and trying to be the best mom I can be to my two young children. .
What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
This sounds sort of funny, but I really enjoy knitting, everything from hats, to scarves, to gloves, and socks. I actually learned to knit while I was living in Germany. A friend of mine’s mother was a big knitter and she asked me if I would like to learn and I said, “Yeah that’d be great!” I didn’t really know that I would like it or enjoy it as much as I do. She showed me how to do it, and I became crazy about it. I stayed up all night long knitting my first scarf because I wanted to get it done. There is such gratification in making something with your hands that is useful and pretty. My friends will ask me to knit hats for them and I like to try new patterns to challenge myself. I also really enjoy going to the movies, which can be challenging when you have kids. I like to try to go when my husband and I can get a babysitter. I recently saw “Dallas Buyers Club”, and I’m really glad Matthew McConaughey won the Oscar for best actor, because he was fantastic in that role.