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Mike Howles – SCN Member of the Month August 2014

Mike Howles is a BI Solution Architect and the SCN Member of the Month for August, 2014.

It was my pleasure to talk with Mike by video conference. We’ve been watching his SCN participation increase steadily over the last year, and I was eager to hear about what inspired him to get active in the SCN community, and what makes him so willing to share — not only informative blog posts and answers — but source code and bug fixes.

His advice is simple about SCN engagement:

“You get out of it what you put into it.”

Mike will presenting at SAP TechEd && d-code this year, so if you’ll be there, stop by and check out his SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio SDK (EA211) lecture.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, who you work for, and other things you would like to share with the community (hobbies, fun facts)?
I was born and raised in Memphis, TN. For the last 10 years, I’ve worked for International Paper in a few different IT positions. My interest in technology began at age 7 as mentioned in my blog it forward post but IT career-wise, I’ve been a help-desk support representative, a web developer, an SAP Basis Administrator, a BI Developer to now currently a BI Solution Architect.

I’m married to my wife Rebecca, and a father of two high energy boys (Josh, 3 years old, and Zack, 8 months old).  Aside from being a dad and an IT hobbyist, I also enjoy photography, video gaming, and spending time with my family and friends.

When did you become a member of SCN and what brought you to this community?
Let’s see, my SCN born-on date says Aug 2007, which would be around the time when I had my first SAP-related position as an SAP Basis Administrator.  It was a heads-first trial-by-fire introduction to SAP (talk about jumping off the deep end!!!)  So at some point I needed to register to make a post asking for help, and so there it is. I’d probably been an SDN lurker for a year or so before then.

Can you tell us in which areas of SCN you are active in?
SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio primarily however I lurk a lot in theSAP BusinessObjects Lumira and SAPUI5 Developer Center as well.

I notice you generously share code with the community and help other members with debugging questions. What motivates you to share so openly?
You know, I’ve been asked that by other SAP colleagues as well… I was not engaged in the SCN community at all until the release of the Design Studio SDK late last year. To me, it’s more to my roots as a web developer. JavaScript, HTML and CSS are my second languages, so it was nice for me to feel at home again and have enough confidence to contribute.

My motivation to contribute is in hopes to instigate others to do the same, because I think the Design Studio SDK is a fun platform to work with. A collaborative code-sharing environment is mutually beneficial to customers and SAP. I hope that my contributions can draw out additional contributions from others for everyone’s benefit.

Note from Caroleigh: One of the most impressive things I noticed about Mike’s contributions to SCN is his willingness to share his source code and help others debug their own. Several members reference his blog posts and code to answer questions posted by others.

And how do you find the time to contribute so actively on SCN?
I always have SCN up in some browser tab, hoping to see some new posts or discussions. Outside of the office, I also check SCN from my tablet or phone at home during TV commercial breaks or while feeding Zack a bottle. It’s one of the benefits of working with technology that I’m interested in, is that I do a lot of it at home. Overall, it’s definitely a lot of multi-tasking during small periods of downtime both in and out of the office.

Last year, in your Blog It Forward post, you mention dreams of being a video game programmer. Are you still a gamer? What are a few of your favorites?
I think every boy who grew up in the 80s (or later) who was a geek like me wanted to be a video game programmer. That path never came to be, but IT development has been just as enjoyable (admittedly, probably not to most 10 year olds).

Being a dad twice over means that my gaming takes a major back seat these days, however, I do go on gaming binges when I can! I actually just got an Xbox One a month back and am slowly making my way through Watch Dogs as time (rarely) permits. I also enjoy the Assassin’s Creed series, but my all time favorite series is Metal Gear Solid. I can’t wait for Metal Gear Solid V!  I’ll probably take a few days off to just veg out and play through that. (FYI, my wife rolled her eyes at that last sentence as she proof-read this.)

You also mentioned you were about to become a father for the second time. Can you tell us about that experience?
The second time around has definitely been easier. Maybe because I’m still conditioned from the sleep deprivation from the first, but it just wasn’t such a shell shock as the first time around. Still some sleepless nights, but it shall again, pass!

MikeHowlesAndSonsCropped.jpg MikeHowlesAndRebeccaCropped.jpg

If a new member came to you and asked for your advice on how to be an active and respected member of SCN, what would you say?
Good question – because a year ago I’d have zero advice, as I wasn’t active at all. I guess I’ll just relay the advice I got from someone at last year’s SAP TechEd, which was you get out of it what you put into it.  I don’t think at the time I completely bought into that, however, I’ve gotten to network with some people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, as well as it opening up opportunities to lecture at this year’s SAP TechEd && d-code and recognition such as this.  The gamification piece is a fun bonus.

Is there an SCN member you admire (OK… you can name a few)? And for what reason?
I know I’m going to forget many people, but I admire John Appleby and Tammy Powlas (she’s a machine! I don’t know how she does it!  I think she has at least 5 clones.)  I also appreciate when Reiner Hille-Doering pops up out of nowhere with super helpful insider information. I’ve also really enjoyed chatting on SCN and over IM with Mustafa Bensan and Leandro Cardoso about Design Studio SDK or Fiori/UI5 topics.

Easy question: Mac/iOS or Windows? Or Android?
MacOS X and iOS. I blame my wife! I used her Macbook 6 years ago and loved the multi-touch gestures, so I went out and bought my own. I run bootcamp on my Mac when I need to use Windows, but with my photography hobby, iPhoto and then Aperture became my favorite applications and they integrated seamlessly into AppleTV and iOS devices. I’m not a Windows or Android hater, Apple just walled me in their garden first!

Are you on Twitter?
Yes (@Mike_Howles), however I’m not very active there. I check a few times a week but most of my professional social networking time is spent on SCN.

Every month, a member of the SAP Community Network is recognized for exemplary behavior: sharing knowledge with peers, being helpful and taking on additional tasks to support community engagement. See the list of previous SCN Members of the Month.

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