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Author's profile photo Custodio de Oliveira

Helping a friend to wake up from a 9 years coma

Just over 3 years ago, Graham Robinson wrote one of the best (my opinion) and most read (my guess) blog posts in SCN : A Call to Arms for ABAP Developers . If you haven’t read it yet (shame on you) go on, I’ll wait.

WAIT UP TO 600 SECONDS.             "Assuming you read slowly

Done? Have you read the comments? No? Go back there, please.

WAIT UP TO 6000 SECONDS.     "lot's of comments. skip the 'great blog' ones and go to the meaningful only

In case you still haven’t read even after I allowed you so much time, in this blog post Robbo talks about the inertia of many developers concerning their skill sets and urge us (I you are reading something on Career Centre I assume you do care about your career) to help these people and give them a wake up call, something like “You never heard of openSAP yet? Dude, wtf?!?!?”.

I like to think that I’ve done my part the last 3 years: be it the few times I called friends in Brasil to discuss the latest Horst Keller blog, talk about openSAP, or SCN in general. Or when I talk to people I work with and encourage them to keep learning new tools and tricks everyday, even if not the newest ones.

One of my latest achievements (if I may call it achievement) on this regard related to the past SAP Architect and Developer Summit 2015 . I attended the first one as well and I like to think that some people at my previous customer attended this year mostly thank to my persistence in advertising the event. But these are people who I know are aware of how important it is to keep up to date, know (or at leat heard of) the latest toys, are often on SCN, even writing some interesting blogs and documents so they are not really the target of the Call to Arms. I want to talk about this friend of mine, though. Here is the story:

A long time ago, in a galay far, far away When I came to Australia from Brasil in 2006 I was working in a really interesting project that required some of the latest skills: ABAP Objects, WDJ, Adobe Forms, Workflow. Cutting edge, right 😉 . Believe me, it was nearly impossible to find someone with ALL these skills back then (the only thing I can say I REALLY knew at the time was WF. I was just starting with ABAP OO. I learnt the others either on the project or later on).

I then interviewed this guy, also from Brasil, with similar skill set and (apparently) same will to learn as I did. For some reasons he didn’t join the project, but still came to Australia (another company, another customer etc.). We never worked together, but became friends, but as he lives in Sydney and I in the best City of the World, we don’t talk much.

Fast forward to 2015: I’ve worked with a handful of SAP Mentors and other brilliant people which are definitely Mentor material. Learnt a bit from each of them. Tried to teach a thing or two as well. I’ve done most of openSAP courses (development focused mainly), attended a few SITs, one TechEd, one Dev Summit. Always see the familiar faces on such events, but always try to meet new ones as well. Then, on the last day of the early bird registration, I chat with this guy:

– Hey, are you going to the Devs Summit?

– The what?!?!

– Developers and Architects Summit, an SAP event held in Sydney focused on Developers and Architects (really??!?! 😀 ). Lot’s of great people come to show the latest in SAP tech, ie HCP, Fiori, etc.

– Never heard of any of it.

– Dude, wtf?!?!?!

We discussed a bit more and in few minutes he was convinced. Only thing he was kind of afraid was, he only had heard of things like HANA, UI5  and Fiori, never touched or even seen any of these. Not even FPM or POWL he knew or heard about. He was still in 2006. And he was afraid that for this reason he would not keep up with the lecturers or workshops.

Long story short, I explained that most of the workshop were basic (some would say too basic, but this is another story), fed him with lots of material to read/watch. He read/watched some of it, attended he Summit, learnt a few new things, met new people (I told him I knew about 50 of the ~370 attendees, either from work, events or virtually – SCN, Twitter. He knew only me), learnt some more. In the end he was thankful that I grabbed him to the event, and I was happy for helping a friend. The End.

The End?

No, not really. For him, it’s just the beginning. He needs to keep up and not only appear in another event 5-10 years from today. He needs to continue learning. He needs to stay (or become again) relevant. Hopefully, next year, he will bring someone new to the Summit. Or SIT. Or TechEd.

For me… is also just the beginning. I need to do all these things I just told he needs to do. And I need (I WANT) to help others the same way I’ve been doing and I did with this friend.

The Call to Arms lives. Do your part. Do the needful.

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      Author's profile photo Tammy Powlas
      Tammy Powlas

      An excellent blog/story for this space...I hope to see you in person next year at some event 🙂

      Author's profile photo Custodio de Oliveira
      Custodio de Oliveira
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Tammy. I'm planning to go to TechEd next year. Would love to see you again 🙂

      Author's profile photo Hendrik Neumann
      Hendrik Neumann

      That is TechEd in Barcelona for sure? Isn't it.. 😉

      Author's profile photo Graham Robinson
      Graham Robinson

      The force is strong in this one. 😉

      Author's profile photo Fabio Pagoti
      Fabio Pagoti

      Hey Custodio de Oliveira!

      Nice choice for blog title. I knew right when I read it that it would worth reading. I agree 101% with you when you say "WTF". Still, there are so many people in coma.

      As you might know, I teach some of these new stuff here in Brazil: UI5, Fiori, HANA for ABAP and next year I'm gonna teach gateway.

      On the first day of every course, I ask questions like "Who has done at least one OpenSAP course?", "Do you guys have an HCP account?" - Always there are a few people whose answer is positive but they usually represent 3 or 4 students from 15 or 16. Unfortunately there are lots of people who have not heard of OpenSAP, or people who think HANA is just a database or even people who still don't know that HANA is also a database.

      Still, there are people who learn new stuff everyday but in SAP terms are in coma. Someone who wants to work as a good SAP consultant has to manage time properly in order to keep learning about business process AND technology - it's a shame (IMO) to start a project from scratch using WDA and not UI5. It's a shame for consulting companies in Brazil to ask for SAPScript skills in an implementation project.

      Well... I have no doubt that one of the best things I have done for my SAP career was to rent a HANA SP 6 server in Cloudshare in 2013 and quit my job to spend almost two months deep diving in OpenSAP in 2014.

      Every consultant must have guts to realize that all the effort put to learn something 10 years ago was well worth and it's not like that anymore. At least for me, this was the first step I had to take in order to do my part.


      Author's profile photo Florian Henninger
      Florian Henninger

      It's up on everybody to stay relevant. Keep always in mind:

      Sharing knowledge is improving your own skill.

      So great story and thank you for sharing it with us.


      Author's profile photo Flavio Furlan
      Flavio Furlan

      Great blog and I agree 100%.

      I have to confess that after 5 years teaching ABAP I start to feel tired to fight against the average... The people does not want to go  further. I remember several times in the class people complain to read SAP Help to get more information about something. Everyone wants all information in the easy way.

      I can understand the new ABAP students that does not have SCN users yet, but I cannot accept the old-ones with more than 10 years of experience and never created a SCN user! Clearly the are stucked in  2006!

      I also agree with Graham CoA and I think that best way to spread the news is face-to-face, like you did. Like I still try to do with my co-works. And I know too many others.

      I really like the motto of our blog friends in Brazil, ABAP Zombie: "Preventing consultants to become zombies" and I think it fits perfectly here.

      Great work and maybe I meet you in the next TechEd.

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Custodio, I like how your blog expands on the message in the Graham's earlier blog in a great way: it's not just about helping yourself, it's also about helping others.

      It's very easy to just tell someone to go read SAP Help (which is not great, by the way) or take a course, read a book, etc. and look down on those who don't find time or opportunity to do that. And, of course, there are always some people that are plain lazy or suffer from some kind of knowledge resistance disease. But what I more frequently find is that people simply need help. There are so many things to learn these days (and not just within the SAP world) but still only 24 hours in a day.

      I have not completed any openSAP courses (although I did complete an openHPI one few years ago) nor I have HCP account or HANA server in the basement. But hopefully I can do small things for my colleagues (who are also busy parents of small children) to help. E.g. if I see a very good blog on SCN, I email a link to them with a short summary. After attending an SAP conference I present a short summary of things I saw and learned. (Some SAP executives might be surprised to learn their one hour keynotes can be easily condensed into 5 minutes. 🙂 )

      I feel if we all make similar effort, we will all improve, together. As you and others correctly noted, we learn ourselves while sharing knowledge.

      Author's profile photo Jocelyn Dart
      Jocelyn Dart

      Custodio - great blog! And yes we see SAP Zombies way too often...

      Once upon a time there used to be a sort-of excuse... the SAP Help was even more difficult than it is today, it cost a lot to attend a classroom course or a conference (and still does), SAP Press books were limited in number, there were a few SAP magazines but not many...

      And then came SDN... which became SCN, more people wrote books and magazine articles, more conferences were held (shorter, more local, cheaper)...

      And then came online learning and ebooks and blogs... and a vast proliferation of courses and material... and the problem was no longer access but deciding how much time and where to focus.... especially for busy people with lots going on...whether that's small children or elderly parents or just you know... life!

      In the hope that this may help others, this is how I currently tackle it...

      a) Get to every conference I can. It's ridiculous how much you pick up in a short amount of time, and the network of connections you build leapfrogs you to new heights.

      b) I rarely attend classroom courses... they just take too much time and they are so hard to organize.  It has to be a REALLY worthwhile course for me to bother.  And these days that means it will be a soft skills course not a technical one - there's too many other options for technical knowledge.

      c) Take advantage of as many of the free/low cost online learning options as I possibly can.  I LOVE how so many of these let you enroll in a course and then complete it at your leisure.  Even OpenSAP you can continue the course self-paced if you run out of time when it's on.   Many of these courses use videos that range from 1-15 minutes so it's easy to fit a few in here and there during the week. 

      These I the ones I currently use: OpenSAP, Coursera, Udemy, Lynda, Interaction Design Foundation, and a colleague recently recommended Pluralsight.

      d) Pick deliberate focus areas for going deep... but also go broad for beginner/intro courses. You never know where your career will turn next, or where the next inspiration will come from.  

      So the 5 second version of my approach is drip drip drip... it's easy to pick up lots over time but hard to pick up a lot in a hurry if you leave until you need it...

      Which is why I also love Duolingo for adding the odd language into the mix... fun and gives some insight into cultural diversity.

      Btw as an added bonus... continuous learning is one of the best ways of avoiding dementia!

      Author's profile photo Ajay Jawalkar
      Ajay Jawalkar

      Custodio de Oliveira Now you just got me out of coma. Thanks buddy!