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A Student’s Perspective of SAP TechEd && d-code 2014

Who I am

While parts of this introduction may be redundant after I write my BIF blog, I think this short history provides important context about why my trip to TechEd was so valuable. I am a senior at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Grand Rapids, MI. I am on my last semester in my B.B.A. in Management Information Systems (MIS). I took a non-traditional route and worked in sales out of high school before going to community college and finally transferring to GVSU. Throughout my college career I have been heavily involved in student life organizations including being the Webmaster, Senior Vice President, and President of the professional fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi. I also have served GVSU’s MIS club, the Enterprise Systems Student Union (ESSU), as Finance Officer and President.

Being heavily involved in GVSU’s MIS program, I have been exposed to some very unique opportunities. I am a two time SAP Mobile App Rumble Finalist and was awarded complimentary trips to SAP Sapphire and the SAP Retail forum to present my submissions.

Sapphire App Submission

Sapphire Interview

Retail Forum App Submission

I think being an older non-traditional student with a full-time job already lined up, I offer a unique perspective. Having one foot in each door helps me thoroughly appreciate my role in an educated pipeline of SAP talent.

How does a student get to TechEd && d-code?

Last summer I took the SAP TERP10 Academy taught by Dr. Simha Magal at GVSU. After passing, Dr. Magal invited 6 of us to participate in a crowd-sourcing activity hosted by SAP University Alliances. This activity came with the opportunity to go to SAP TechEd && d-code to present our submission. A total of 25 students across several universities were able to attend.

Thanks to John Baxter for coordinating the crowd-sourcing activity!

Being a previous attendee of SAP Sapphire and the SAP Retail Forum, I am no stranger to the magnitude of SAP conferences. Despite my previous experiences, walking onto the show floor is humbling. It’s hard to imagine the sheer amount of knowledge walking around on a given day. That was my favorite part of the conference. I never knew who I would meet next.

What is my Winning Dream?

Historically, I have always referred to is as my vision statement, but in honor of Bill McDermott’s book release, “Winners Dream,” I will call it my Winning Dream. I thrive in situations where I can continue to grow. Leveraging my passion for life-changing technology and big data analytics, I want to empower individuals with information and minimize decision fatigue. Those who know the data often don’t understand the questions, those who ask the questions often don’t know enough about the data to know what is possible. My mission is to bridge the gap between the data and the decision makers.

I had a special chance to share this dream with University Alliances in my interview with Ann Rosenberg.

Interview Link: Building Future Talent for the SAP Ecosystem

SAP Lumira DataGeek Viz-a-Thon with Doctors Without Borders

On Tuesday night at TechEd we had a very unique chance to work with Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to use SAP Lumira and try to provide their organization with some new insight into their data sets.

While the entire event was amazing, there are a few elements that stood out. Being a fan of big data and Lumira, sitting in a room with 60 other “Data Geeks” was exhilarating. We split ourselves into groups of varying backgrounds and skill levels and each team was equipped with a Lumira expert. I walked into the event with a plan, being the Lumira expert from my group of university students, I had decided to lead our group to “Victory”. When we got split up, I had to shift my perspective. In my group, there were many brilliant minds. It was intimidating at first, but I figured out how to express myself and take input from my teammates as well.

This lead to some unexpected learning outcomes. First, being humble while working with different skill levels and backgrounds was a practical and valuable experience. In addition, I never imagined we would spend the majority of our 1.5 hour time limit deciding the problem definition. Manipulating the data to get insight was relatively simple once we figured out what questions to ask and how to structure those questions.

Thanks to my teammates Ashley McNutt, Julien Delvat, Stephen Johannes.

Special thanks to Eamon Ida, Marilyn Pratt and MSF for their efforts to make it happen.

For more information on the SCN MSF charity initiative check out the blog: I Care, I Gave, I Inspired

Next Steps: Taking People With Me

Yum! Brands CEO, David Novak wrote a leadership book called “Taking People with You”. The concept is simple, bring people along with me on my journey and share my successes with them. I am already doing this back at GVSU. I have shared my TechEd stories on social media and in person with countless students and professors. I have taken what I learned from the Lumira Data Viz-A-Thon to my job at GVSU’s ERP Initiative to continue developing SAP Lumira curriculum whichwill ultimately be shared with the University Alliances. Finally, we have developed a plan to use the ESSU as a platform to engage younger high school students to sell MIS and SAP to the next generation and get them involved sooner.

Thank you to everyone who made this possible. Especially the GVSU Seidman School of Business and SAP University Alliances. Thanks to my fellow students Mark Regula, Miles Szuma, Megan Laughlin, Cody Duston, and Sabrina Garrison. I know I wasn’t able to tag all the contributors, so for those I missed, thank you.

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      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt

      Hi Mitchell,

      I really enjoyed your participation (your excellent presentation skills) and the enthusiasm and insights and intelligence that you and your fellow students demonstrated.

      It's very inspirational to learn with you and from you.

      Thanks for taking the time to blog your impressions and hope this will be the start of a very long and fruitful relationship (Casablanca 😉 ? Before your time?)

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you for the kind words. I look forward to getting more active in the community. We learned a lot from you as well.

      Judging by the release date, I would say Casablanca was before your time as well 🙂 . It's one of those classics I just haven't gotten around to.

      Author's profile photo Stephen Johannes
      Stephen Johannes


      It was really great meeting you and working with you during the Viz-a-Thon.  As myself being a Lumira newbie it was great when you really got the tool to go way beyond  what I thought it could do and provide some of those storyboards for the final presentation.

      Even though I'm not a really a data-geek by trade(I was there support to MSF and my fellow community members) I will say that problem definition/requirements definition can be more involved than the real IT configuration/coding needed to support the problem being solved through the use of IT tools.

      Looking forward to either working with you in the community again whether it be here online or at another event 🙂 .

      Take care,


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Stephen,

      Being that most of our problems were conceptual, your experiences outside of Lumira saved the day. It reminded me how important the business knowledge is when doing analytics.

      I'm sure we'll collaborate again.


      Author's profile photo Will Powell
      Will Powell

      "My mission is to bridge the gap between the data and the decision makers." - definitely need more of this in the world. Useful insight and nice article.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Will. I loved your demo at TechEd. I look forward to seeing more from you. The possibilities are out there!