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Author's profile photo Tammy Powlas

How to become an SAP Mentor – Colleen’s Story

Hopefully you know that SAP Mentor nominations can be made year-round.  The current deadline for this round is March 1st.  More details can be found here.

A common question is how do you become a SAP Mentor?  I asked Colleen Hebbert, SAP Mentor, this and other questions – see her replies below:

Q: How did you become a Mentor?

A: I received an email from Mark Finnern in October 2014 inviting me and congratulating me on being accepted as a Mentor (I think this was one of his last cohort intakes before leaving). And I said yes.I then starting searching what SAP Mentor is and finally figured out that yellow dot icon was a Mentor Lemon.

To this day, I still have no idea how I became a Mentor – especially compared to all the other community members out there who volunteer so much of their time to helping others.

However, as I started off as a cub (the friendly name given to the new members in each intake), I learned there was a nomination process followed by shortlisting with a final say from some powers that be. I still don’t know who nominated me but suspect it were people in the community who I interacted with as I found myself in Security, GRC, Careers, Education and Coffee Corner spaces (now tags).  See Colleen pictured to the right (picture source is from Colleen herself).

Q: What qualities does it take to become a Mentor?

A: In the beginning I felt like I was experiencing impostor syndrome. How could someone like me have been nominated with my specialties? I hadn’t written a book. I hadn’t lead a SIT or sat on a key topic. I had never attended a TechEd or SAPHIRE let alone presented at one. I avoided introducing myself as an expert (experts don’t advertise) and was constantly in awe of other community members with the wealth of knowledge they were freely sharing.

So what’s the solution when you feel like you’re an impostor? Education. Learning and improving is how you overcome any such doubts (and perhaps, find a new set as the more you learn the more you realise you don’t know).

I found myself trying to understand what makes a good mentor or why I was chosen and not someone else. I recall reading this blog SAP Mentor Magic Foundation.

The key attributed I came up with are:
1. Humble: it’s in the blog but it really sums up most members. Mentors are always keen to acknowledge their roots and that there is always more to learn.Arrogance is a foreign concept.

2. Passionate: it’s amazing that you can watch someone’s eyes light as you become mesmerised in their enthusiasm as they describe a particular technical aspect of a system that would typically be the cure to insomnia. And you may have no idea what they are talking about but by the end of it you leave the conversation richer in knowledge

3. Volunteers: Mentors (especially the ones out in Australia) are the first to put their hands up to support a local user group, conference, or any excuse for a beer. They give so much of their time without any sense of entitlement. Sure there might be a free conference ticket here or there but the Mentors are spending time preparing content and finding ways to contribute value to the community without expectation to do so.

4. Initiative: As a Mentor you are supported to make of it what you want. You have this great opportunity to be given a blank canvas but it’s been framed for you. You add your own flavour to it based on your strengths and style.

5. Constructive: Willingness to voice view points especially when it’s negative feedback. Much of this happens behind the scenes but it’s the necessary feedback that SAP executives and product owners need to hear to continue to improve and deliver value to the customer.

6. Fun: Like passion, Mentors find a way to make dry topics interesting and break barriers down through humour and a good time. It can vary from providing hugs through to a random goat or some other form of banter. Either way you, you find yourself laughing or at least a quite giggle.

Q: How has your experience as a Mentor helped you?

A: I cannot measure how much this program and it’s people has helped me both professionally and personally. The Mentors has become a secondary family for me.

Professionally, I’ve started presenting at conferences. Many colleagues are surprised to learn that I am extremely introverted and do find it quite exhausting to interact with people – especially strangers – as they know me to be quite loud and chatty. But I’m the kind of person who walks into a crowded room, finds the bar for a drink, followed by a corner table and then proceed to pull out my phone to become preoccupied until I eventually find someone I know and can join their group.

So, to get up at a conference and present on topics is a huge step outside of my comfort zone. The Mentors helped by volunteering me up; convincing me I could do it; willingly proof-reading my materials; and turning up and supporting me. I still get nervous but from here I’ve put my hand up to introduce speakers and facilitate sessions. In one, found myself doing a two-hand and foot shuffle to get everyone awake (thankfully, no cameras).

And sometimes, just popping the shirt out and standing out is enough for me to snap out of it and walk up to strangers and say g’day.

Personally, the Mentors have been there for me at the worse time in my life when my son passed away. I received cards, emails, charity donations and knitted goods from throughout the world as well as their patience and encouragement to return in my own time. I still get messages checking in on me from time to time. These are people I now consider friends and family even though we are yet to meet.

Q: What recommendations do you have for others to become a Mentor?

A: Don’t compare yourself to the other Mentors. Mentors are chosen for diversity. Some Mentors may dedicate a large portion of their day to SAP and Mentor related activities. If you compare yourself as you will find yourself doubting your worthiness in this program.

We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Don’t think you need to become an expert blogger or a keynote speaker if that’s not your strength. There are other ways to be part of this mentor magic.

Instead, trust that someone out there nominated you and a group of well-respected people in the industry agreed because they saw qualities in you. Don’t change who you are and keep doing what you’re doing. Make your own mark and find your own initiative.

And remember, there’s a blank canvas and it’s up to you for what you make of it. Back yourself, and give it a go!

The worse thing that can happen is you got a shirt and stories to tell 🙂

L to R: Chris Rae, Sascha Wenninger, Chris Paine, Graham Robinson, Colleen, Jocelyn Dart, Gary Hooker – source of picture is Colleen


Thank you, Colleen, for sharing your story.   Do you know someone who has what it takes to become a SAP Mentor? Be sure to submit your SAP Mentor nominations by March 1st.

Nominate Today 

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      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Nice story!

      While made out of ordinary materials I do believe the Mentor shirt has some super-powers. Somehow I'm more inclined to jump in front of a full room to help with the session (even if I just embarrass myself as a result) while wearing The Shirt. Not to mention it's a great conversation starter.

      Author's profile photo Michael Appleby
      Michael Appleby

      Would love to have a super power shirt!  All my shirts are rather plebian.

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Well, fill in the application and see what happens. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Nithyanandam Venu
      Nithyanandam Venu

      Awesome post 🙂

      Author's profile photo Graham Robinson
      Graham Robinson

      I don't know what an SAP Mentor is - but I know one when I see one.

      Author's profile photo Guy Lamoureux
      Guy Lamoureux


      Exactly. SAP could start by explaining what is a mentor ? What they do ? They are mentor to whom ?

      Author's profile photo Graham Robinson
      Graham Robinson

      Hi Guy,

      thanks for your interest in the SAP Mentor program.

      My comment above wasn't meant to be flippant - it is just my usual response when people try too much to quantify what qualities make someone suitable to be a SAP Mentor.

      SAP Mentors are "top community influencers" and "champions of community projects" etc. But these are somewhat nebulous definitions - with good reason. Everyone contributes to a community in different ways, and in ways that make sense to them. Some blog regularly, some are active in the forums, some speak at SAP events, some are active in SAP User Groups or other similar groups, some are thought leaders, some are product experts, some foster professional networks by connecting people, and some do other things. Some do all these things and some do none of them but contribute in their own unique ways.

      So for me I don't like to try and answer the question "What does a SAP Mentor do?" - because the answer is different for each of them. However, I have noticed some common traits that SAP Mentors typically possess. They are actively engaged with their community. They are passionate. They share information. They like people. They are generous with their time and their expertise. They are good communicators. They have opinions and are willing to express them. They listen to and respect others. They are fun to be around. Etcetera ...

      And that is why I don’t know what an SAP Mentor is – but I know one when I see one. 😉

      For me the term "mentor" is closely linked to Leadership By Example. I like these people, I like how they conduct themselves, therefore I try to conduct myself in similar ways with similar values.

      The original goal of the SAP Mentor program was to shine a light on the most valuable community members, partly to recognise them, but more importantly to hold them up as examples that others might choose to emulate. Almost 10 years later I still like that goal.


      Graham Robbo

      p.s. If you know anyone that you think might me a good SAP Mentor candidate - the latest call for nominations closes today.


      Author's profile photo Steffi Warnecke
      Steffi Warnecke

      “To this day, I still have no idea how I became a Mentor – especially compared to all the other community members out there who volunteer so much of their time to helping others.”

      Well, I know why and that you absolutly deserve to be one! ?

      I just stumpled upon this blog by “accident” via some like in my Activity stream, that lead me to Moya’s blog that led me to this one. Almost missed it… almost. I’m glad I didn’t.




      Author's profile photo Caroleigh Deneen
      Caroleigh Deneen

      Thanks for sharing this story Tammy and Colleen, what a great way to inspire new mentor nominations.

      Love the reminder that diversity is a source of strength. Well said, "Don’t compare yourself to the other Mentors. Mentors are chosen for diversity."