Paul Bakker is an expert SAP Technical Consultant, entrepreneur, author, travel enthusiast and SCN’s Member of the Month, October 2015. Paul shares his expertise about SAP Workflow and SAP Certification on SCN by contribution best practice blog posts and by answering questions. We appreciate his wit, humor and community spirit. Paul has had a diverse career, having earned his PhD and working in artificial intelligence before getting turned onto SAP. I am glad to welcome him as the newest SCN Member of the Month!
Some highlights from our talk:
- SCN is like a cocktail party, best to hang-back rather than barging in
- It’s also addictive, like dark chocolate
- Paul and his twin brother, Rick may be on opposite sides of the world, but still find ways to co-collaborate for a good cause like Doctors Without Borders, read more to learn how and where…
Tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, what kind of work you do, and other things you would like to share with the community (hobbies, fun facts)?
I am an Aussie. I was born in Brisbane (Queensland) and I live and work in Brisbane. Pretty boring, huh?
There’s a bit more to tell. From the age of 12, I spent 6 years– those formative teenage years – attending high school in Amsterdam. I loved all the great food & culture & languages. It gave me a travel bug which I haven’t been able to shake since.
Paul & Rick in Africa with old Russian truck
Do you know who is who?
My favourite place on earth: the sunny Gold Coast
Just south of Brisbane ~ City on Stilts
I returned to Australia to attend university/college. I became one of those ‘eternal students’, bumming around campus for almost 10 years. Back then it was all government-funded, so I wasn’t worried.
But once I got married, bought a house, and turned 30, I (or perhaps, my wife) decided it was time to get a real job. After stints in Japan and Africa, I found SAP. I came to it quite late in life, so it almost feels like a second career for me. I still love it!
I’m now an SAP contractor with my own small business. For the last few years I’ve been working for the Queensland tax department. I deal mostly in the TRM and CRM modules, and do SAP workflow, ABAP, webdynpro, interfaces and so on.
Here are some fun facts:
- I have a twin on SCN (Rick Bakker) who is also into SAP workflow
- Rick and I were lucky enough to contribute to the ‘Practical Workflow for SAP’ book last year
- We are now writing an e-book on SAP ABAP certification (I work occasionally as a ‘certification coach’ for SAP)
- We also co-presented at SAPPHIRE 2014 in Orlando
- I’m very keen on trivia and quizzes. Last week I went to Melbourne to film an episode of ‘The Chase’ (a popular TV quiz show)
- I’ve now been to about 50 countries, on 6 continents. My goal is to live and work a year on each continent…. But Antarctica is going to be tricky.
An echidna in our backyard.
These guys are very unusual: mammals that lay eggs.
A koala in our backyard.
When did you become a member of SCN and which areas are you most active in?
I actually joined it when it first started (back in the SDN days) but dropped out again. I got back into it around 2009, I think. I had become obsessed with SAP workflow and wanted to share some blogs. As a gag, I announced a 72-part series on workflow. It petered out after 5 instalments, unfortunately.
What motivates you to keep coming back to SCN and help members find answers to their questions?
It’s addictive, like 85% pure dark chocolate… I log in every day and look through my favourite forums (ABAP Development, SAP Business Workflow, SAP Certification, SAP for Utilities.). I am constantly surprised by the questions. Both in a negative way (lazy people trying to offload their work) and a positive way (really interesting issues I had never considered before).
When you’re working at just one SAP site, you can only experience a tiny slice of the SAP world. SCN is a window to much, much more. You learn heaps from considering other peoples’ issues, reading answers, and perhaps posting something yourself. It really is very valuable.
Your series on Workflow tips is quite popular. I noticed some differences in opinions around customization requests. What are some of the dangers in customizations? Has the presentation flexibility of UI5 helped in recent years?
Thanks for the compliment! I haven’t really kept track of how those old blogs are going. Occasionally you still see a kind comment. Unfortunately I don’t recall that discussion on customization, and we haven’t had a chance to use UI5 at the tax office yet. But I’m keen to try it!
You show a lot of care for the community, advocating to keep content quality high. What’s your advice to newer members? Top 3 mistakes to avoid?
New members should try to spend some time reading the posts and getting a feel for the forums. Too often you see newbies posting in the wrong place, not phrasing their questions properly, or treading on some toes.
It’s like a cocktail party: you don’t just barge in and start talking! You hover around the edges first, waiting for your chance to ask / say something interesting. SCN is not an exclusive club – everyone is welcome – but please take the time to present yourself in the best light possible. Your reputation will be very much enhanced by a bit of care.
Have you been following the plans around the upcoming changes to the community (#1DXCOMMDEST – http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-63650)? What are your hopes and dreams associated with the upcoming redesign? What do you hope gets better? What is working well that you doesn’t get broken?
I hadn’t actually heard of this initiative (until now) but what I’ve seen so far looks good. Anything that lightens the load of the poor Moderators – the unsung heroes of SCN – has my vote.
I hope that we can improve the quality of the questions and answers, and thereby massively increase participation in SCN. An improved search engine would also be neat.
We have something in common – we are both identical twins. It looks like you are both running Hanabi, is that right? What’s it like being so close to someone, personally and professionally?
Get out of here! 🙂 You’re a monozygote as well? That’s so rare. What does your twin do?
Rick and I are pretty close. We work in the same company, run into each other on SCN, and email every day. We physically live at opposite ends of the world, but that doesn’t really matter.
I feel a bit sorry for ‘singletons’, actually. It’s so great working with someone you can trust completely, and who shares your interests and sense of humour.
Paul’s pets, Daisy & Lulu
Are you on Twitter?
I am! But I mainly use it to harangue local politicians: @xxPaulBakkerxx
Is there an SCN member you admire (OK… you can name a few)? And for what reason?
I admire two big players in the ABAP Development space: Matthew Billingham and Jelena Perfiljeva. Both of them are amazingly active, and they can be pretty amusing too. Rick Bakker also rates a grudging mention because (as he always tells me) he’s been a Workflow topic leader for the last 5 years straight.
Note from Caroleigh: I was really fun for me to meet Paul since he and I both share the special gift of being identical twins. I was happy to connect with another SCN member that maintains that special bond across different locations. We bother wondered, are there any other twins on SCN? We would love to hear from you if there are.
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 members recognized on the SCN Member of The Month Hall of Fame.