As announced recently, I have taken over the Member of the Month program, and I’m afraid I’m a few days behind for September (due to the customary transition hiccups, a U.S. holiday, and this beta platform you may have heard about).
On the plus side, we have a great Member of the Month for September — and I hope that makes this post worth the wait! I’m happy to say that for my very first Member of the Month post, I had the pleasure of interviewing Martin Fischer
Martin works and lives in Stuttgart, Germany. On SCN, he shares his expertise primarily in the ABAP area, especially in the BOPF space. He’s active in a variety of events and communities — both online and at in-person meetings. He is also an avid participant in outdoor activities — and the second recent Member of the Month who has had experience milking cows. (What are the odds?)
If you’d like to find out how Martin made the move from farming to developing (and learn about his geekiest guilty pleasure), check out the short video above. And to learn more about Martin’s career, areas of expertise, interests, community participation, and more, please read on!
Congratulations for becoming Member of the Month for September, Martin! Let’s start with some easy questions: Where do you work, what are your responsibilities, and what is your title?
This one I should be able to answer. I work at bridgingIT, an IT consulting company with about 450 employees in Germany. I’m based in Stuttgart, which is southwestern Germany. I’m responsible for our consulting offerings in the area of SAP technology and development including technology scouting. My title is “Portfolio Unit Manager SAP Database & Technology” and “Senior Consultant.” So the second might be a bit easier to explain.
How long have you done this type of work, and how or why did you get started down this career path?
I started to work with SAP in 2001. At this time my employer implemented SAP FI/CO; 4.6c was the current release. I was working in the area of FI/CO for about six years. After my studies, which I did in the meantime, I took the chance to change the topic and focused on software development, mainly ABAP. This was exactly nine years ago. I did it because programming was fun to me and it still is. I still like the feeling when you see that the idea I had works in the end and the program does what it is supposed to be.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, and other things you would like to share with the community — such as hobbies or fun facts.
I’ve been living in downtown Stuttgart for three months. But actually I grew up on the Swabian Alb, a low mountain range in southwestern Germany. I still like this area and I’m often there because it’s perfect for mountain biking, cross-country skiing, running, and other outdoor activities. So you know now already most of my hobbies.
One fun fact: Just like Member of the Month July 2016, Christian Drumm, I grew up on a farm and I’m able to milk cows. But I haven’t practiced that for almost 20 years.
When did you become a member of SCN and which areas are you most active in?
Actually, I don’t remember. I think it was during my studies, so around 2006. I’m most active in the ABAP area and especially in the BOPF space. As I think BOPF is a great framework for custom development, I would like to see more activity in this space and I try to help to achieve this.
I see from your posts that you consider yourself an ABAP expert — but that you’re branching out into other areas. One way you’re expanding your knowledge is looking for questions in SCN which give you the opportunity to research the answer. Can you give me an example of a topic where you didn’t consider yourself an expert, but you learned a lot by trying to answer an SCN question?
Actually, most of the time I do some quick research when I answer questions — just to make sure that I give the right answers or just to verify that I correctly remember things which I’ve done in the past. And it always helps to not forget things at least.
I also see that you like to attend community events such as SAP CodeJames, SAP Inside Tracks, and SAP Stammtisch Meetings. (I hope I can pronounce Stammtisch correctly — you’d think that working at SAP would improve my German! — but I believe it translates as the English equivalent of a round table?) So I have multiple related questions here: How did you find out about these events? Why did you decide to participate? What do you like best about them? And how would you encourage other members to participate — especially newcomers who might feel a bit intimidated (or a little socially awkward)?
Yes, Stammtisch is something like a round table or a meetup.
It all started in the very early days of SAP CodeJam. Back then I listened to the famous Enterprise Geeks Podcast (which is still a pity that they stopped it) where Craig Cmehil introduced the CodeJam format. So I applied for hosting one and we hosted the first one in Germany which was not organized by SAP. Then I found out that there was a SAP Inside Track in Munich at a weekend where I was in Munich for doing a marathon on Sunday. So I just signed up. The thing I like the best at all of those community events: I never had the feeling that I’m the newbie or that there is a VIP group of people. All the people there are just interested in technology-related topics and want to learn and discuss about this stuff. It’s really an open-minded community including all the mentors.
About the Stammtisch: I was assigned to a project in Frankfurt in the last years. By coincidence I found out about the Stammtisch. I joined them regularly. Now I’m trying to establish one in Stuttgart. So if you want, you can sign up on XING to our group or you check the Wiki page
I’ve heard you speak about the importance of communities. I’m sure SCN is your favorite (no need to answer that), but I admire that you’re also working to build internal communities within and around your own organization. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe these are both online and in-person events. So clearly you’re a big proponent of communities. Why do you value communities so much?
Because I’m one of those nerds who like to speak to other people. (Yes, indeed, this kind of nerd exists.) I regard experience as one of the most important things in my job and therefore I think it’s important to learn from others and, of course, also share my own experience. And maybe the most important thing: I have a lot of fun when I participate in such events or even organize them. By the way, the next one is just around the corner.
Since you see the value in communities, what value do you try to bring to those in which you participate?
First of all, I share my experience and also help others and myself to get access to new topics and technology. Just think about CodeJams: SAP would never do a CodeJam just for me. I’m privileged having an employer who also sees the importance of communities. So when I’m interested in a topic where I think others might share this interest, I can request to host a CodeJam. So in the end it’s even a bit selfish.
How about other members? How do you think they can go about bringing value to communities? On top of that — what should they be doing to get the most value from a community?
Attending community events is already a big step. Sharing their experience is the second. Not everybody needs to go on stage. It already adds value if you just join discussions.
Do you feel like your experiences with SCN have helped advance your career and network? If so, how?
Yes, for sure. I often get hints how to solve problems from SCN. And still, if there are problems, I often search for a solution or a hint on SCN first. So actually somehow the community sometimes does my job, at least small parts of it.
SCN is also the source to read about new technologies and products from SAP. So I gain a lot of knowledge from SCN. When I started to work with SAP software, there was almost nothing about SAP on the Internet. Hard times
And about the network — I would call some of the people I met in person at SAP events friends. So nothing further to add here.
Any final words of advice to the community members reading this interview?
Don’t take the community as a one-way street. If you get something out of it, give something back. Even if it takes time until you are able to do this.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Martin. It was a pleasure talking to you. Once again — congratulations!
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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.
And if you know someone in the community who has inspired you, you can nominate people for Member of the Month by sending a message to Jerry Janda.