Life at SAP – with Hakan Pehlivan
Hakan is a Pre-sales Specialist for SuccessFactors in Turkey covering the EMEA South region. We spoke to him about his Life at SAP.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As any child, my dreams about the future were always changeable. But they always involved something including art. I used to write stories and draw cartoons for my little brother. I used to dream about becoming a famous writer or a caricaturist and in part I realized this dream.
I had various jobs before graduation as a graphic designer and I have written lots of scenarios for digital courses as an instructional designer in my first professional role after graduation. And current job with SAP fulfils my dream because being in pre-sales is an artistic thing!
What did you study at college/university?
I studied Computer and Educational Technologies at the Bahcesehir University – Istanbul. Mainly the department focuses on using technology in education. It is a department which gives pedagogical proficiency for teaching, I gained lots of aspects about scientific part of human learning and integration of the technology to the education. I realized after some years that this was a department which develops new pre-sales people! A big part of the assignments were creating content, videos, educational software and of course slide decks. Also, innumerable presentation assignments provided good experience for presentation skills.
When did you start working at SAP?
I started at SAP in 2017.
How did you get your current job?
I had applied for the Sales Specialist position for the education portfolio. I had two interviews and both the team and I decided that my competency profile is more applicable for a pre-sales position. How lucky I am that after a couple of weeks I was informed that a position in pre-sales team was open. After a cheerful interview, I accepted this lovely job.
What qualifications did you need for your current job?
I was not asked to provide any formal qualifications but in terms of competencies I had to convince my manager about the selling skills, business understanding, and imagination.
What are the key skills people need if they want to join pre-sales?
You need to understand the needs of the different aspects of a specific business area, and be able to talk about them. You also need imagination, the ability to create and tell stories, and analyse customers. Passion is also important.
What does your career at SAP mean to you?
It is a boost for lots of things. It is brand new start for a great, challenging learning curve. It is the freedom area for using my skills in the ways that I like mostly. It is a journey on a new business area which I am discovering all the paths of it with a big attention and excitement. And sure, it is the biggest honour sign in my résumé.
What does success look like to you?
To me in means inspiring others.
If you could go back in time and give your 18-year-old-self one piece of career advice what would it be?
I know you need money for more comfortable university life and so you want to work. But please prioritize the brand of the company and the skills that it can give you rather than money. Try finding internships (even they are not paid jobs) in the big companies which you can do something about your focus area, not daily or monthly jobs which mean nothing for your future. If you have a chance, PLEASE go abroad for a while, meet with people from different cultures as many as you can and develop your foreign language skills as much as you can. Well done for your studies that you are doing for national competitions and university club activities; do not give up on those!
To see where Life at SAP could take you, click here.