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26/01/1998 – 26/01/2018

No, nobody died.

Today it’s completing 20 years since I started my SAP career. The first day of my ABAP Academy. What a journey! In fact I would be more fair (or fairer) if I counted since the day I answered that phone call in my first ever job in a Software house, just 6 months after my graduation in Computer Science. The call was from my great friend and University colleague Waldir Rodrigues Jr., in which he said: “come and join me here, this SAP stuff is a great opportunity”. It was December 1997, no idea of the exact date. I just remember to have thought: “SAP? What a … is this? But if he says it will be good, I will give it a try.” I also remember to have talked to my colleague Elaine immediately after I hang up and said: come with me!

And here I am now, thanks to him and to myself. It’s choice-not chance-that determines our destiny. And thanks to many others who helped me, trusted in me or shared this journey with me. Elaine is currently working for SAP Brazil, and she is a reference for me and for many.

 

I won’t talk too much about my journey because it’s not easy to put in few paragraphs 20 years of experiences in so many different places with so many different people and cultures, and so many different things I had to work with. And what may be so interesting for me may be tedious for others. I will follow the suggestion of this article: “I’m going to keep this brief, because you’re not going to stick around for long.” 🙂  Farhad Manjoo says in this article that we are in the age of skimming.

(BTW there is a Brazilian app called 12 minutos that tells you a summary of a book in 12 minutes, so that you don’t even have to read it all).

 

My ABAP Academy was the cradle of a friendship that lasts for the same 20 years. We were a group who really had fun together during 4 weeks. Some of us had the chance to work together in the same project, some didn’t, but the meetings for a beer or dinner kept us close for many years. Always having so much fun and laughing for hours. We still try to keep in touch, some meet more often, and every meeting feels like those days. I always remember my ABAP Academy days as some of the best I had in my career. And I really wanted to register this feeling somehow. Now I did it. :p

 

After finishing my training I immediately went to a customer ( a very small one.. hehe..one of the biggest Banks of Brazil) as an experienced ABAP consultant! Yep… Since 20 years ago these things have been happening. And I was not alone. I went with other colleagues with the same experience or a little more (some months more than us). And besides thinking at that time that it was so wrong (well, I still do) it was the best thing that the company could have done to me (even not really caring about me at all). Because I had to face challenges since the beginning and fight to survive, in a time where documentation was rare or none, SCN or SDN didn’t exist, not even sapfans.com, when Print Files (remember those? Oh, maybe you were not even born) were hundreds of pages and I had to print them in the customer and bring home to study at night. That was what happened for instance with the IDOC development that was given to me by my dear friend who was team lead. It’s not sarcastic, she is my dear friend until today and she trusted a lot in me. She said: this ‘IDoc’stuff.. nobody knows it. I am sure you can do it.” I think I had 6 months experience at that time, a senior! 😀

At the end everything went well. And I made new friends that I also have until today. Note: in that project we were 6 women and 1 man. All ABAP developers. #GirlsWhoCode

 

That project was just the start of my 20 years journey and teached me many of the things I use until today. It was a great school. Maybe the greatest school. School is meant to prepare you for life. And it surely did.

 

After that year (I spent 1 year there) I had many other projects for other 2 years in that consulting company, where I learnt also how to lead a team and how is important to do things the best you can, with quality. And I learnt how people can be good and how people can be evil (sometimes the same person). And how you have to take care of yourself, of your education and your career, and not expect your company or anyone else to do it for you. Remember: it’s choice… And when I felt I was ready to fly and follow my dream, and of course when I had an opportunity knocking on my door, I quit. My dream was to travel, to work abroad. And for that I spent years studying English, then Spanish, then Italian (for 2 years I had Spanish and English one after the other, from 6:30pm to 10:30pm, as IT consulting spends a lot of our time, you know, so I had to use my time the best way I could).

And then from that moment until today I worked in 7 countries besides mine, visited many more, including beautiful Iceland, made a lot of new friends and took thousands of pictures, and hope it continues like that for many more years.

 

In these 20 years working with SAP I lived so many amazing experiences, some very challenging, some sad, but most of them very positive and unforgettable. So much reading, so much teaching, so much learning. Specially learning from others. I was nominated an SAP Mentor, I met nice people who I admire, some of them since many years, I spoke in panels about my journey, I was interviewee and interviewer, I wrote articles to an international magazine, I wrote blogs, I worked in different areas of SAP, I learnt how to organize events, I am learning how to speak in public. I think I did a lot of different things.

 

I started to write more details about my journey but as it was becoming too long, and we are in the age of skimming, I stopped. The most important and best thing of all is: I had fun. And still do.

“Life is a journey, not a destination”.

”Life is what happens to you while you are busy making plans.”

I intended to post this blog on 26th, but as I once told Tammy, it takes a lot of time for me to put on words my feelings and story. The hours fly and it’s now 27th 1:52am (in Brazil).

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33 Comments

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  1. Matt Fraser

    Raquel,

    Thanks for sharing this uplifting story. We started the SAP part of our careers only a couple months apart! But I think you have me beat by about two months. 😉 And, oh yeah, I remember my first project as a consultant. I was so nervous, I printed out reams of documentation and studied it carefully before going onto the client site, and I carried it all around with me in my backpack to refer to. I was terrified they would figure out how new I was at this, expose me for the fraud i was convinced that I was, but my project manager assured me there would be no problem, and there wasn’t in the end.

    Like you, I’ve made many friends through this journey, people I could call upon when I needed (or who would call upon me), and this is the secret to success, I believe. The friendships are to be treasured, even if a few years may go by between contacts. They are never forgotten.

    Now I’d best go make some other plans that life will get in the way of.

    Cheers,
    Matt

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    1. Raquel Pereira da Cunha
      Post author

      Thanks for your comment Matt Fraser

      You just made me remember that I took with me for many years a black handbag full of documentation and a notepad with all the ABAP tricks, tables, relationships between tables, transactions and every thing I learned in each project, which I started to call my backup disk :). Who worked with me maybe remember that, as I was never in a project without it. I never had time to digitalize all that information, there were dozens of pages, and now we have Google and SAP Community to accelerate the searches (although I still have the habit of debugging everything to learn. I find so much information inside the codes including great documentation that SAP never publishes). When I left the first consulting company, one of the co-workers asked to copy the notepad since she thought she would not be able to ask anything to me there anymore. I still have the handbag and the notepad. So many nice memories.

      Friendship is really a treasure. Many of the things I achieved as a professional and in private life was thanks to my friends, who helped me in different ways, and I always try to do the same for them.

      Best regards,

      Raquel

       

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      1. Matt Fraser

        I still have the student handbooks from the initial Basis courses I took sitting here on the bookshelf of my desk at work! I just took a look, and the one on Authorizations Concepts still has printouts of SAP Notes in the pocket inside the cover. Alongside them is a book on SQL Server Administration “best practices” from the days of SQL Server 7.0, and a Windows NT 4.0 handbook.

        I really never do throw anything away. It took me years to get comfortable with not having every installation guide printed out and then kept as a reference for a long, long time; years to understand that I really could just go back and look at it online, or as a PDF on my workstation at least.

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  2. Bernhard Luecke

    My perspective: 20 years of a fullfilled life, and 20 years of great friendship. This is nearly more than you can expect from the little time we have on this small rock in a remote corner of a basically empty universe – to live friendships over distances of thousands of kilometers and meeting every 1-5 years…

    Let’s keep it up – together. Obrigado y Abraços.

     

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    1. Raquel Pereira da Cunha
      Post author

      Thank you Bernhard. I like and use this sentence below often because it is so true:

      “Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”

      I am happy to have you as a friend and it was such a pleasure to be able now to meet you every year, after so many years away. But we never lost the contact and kept the friendship alive.

      “O que se leva da vida é a vida que se leva”- Aparício Torelly, Barão de Itararé

      You helped me a lot in my first years even without being aware of that 🙂  Muito obrigada!

      Saludos 🙂

      Raquel

       

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    1. Raquel Pereira da Cunha
      Post author

      Thank you for your words Marssel!

      I had one year outside SAP in my first job, where I was programmer, SQL Server Admin, Windows NT Admin, and anything else that was necessary in a small software house 🙂 Had fun there too. Then I started to breath SAP and here I am 🙂

       

       

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  3. Vivek Hegde

    Woohoo…Congrats. Feels great to read your story !  Keep writing, mentoring and contributing & inspiring the young generations in days to come…On a lighter note,  I think your initial coding days were something like this? 🙂 🙂

    (4) 
  4. Former Member

    Individuals get a kick out of the chance to peruse data that can serve synchronous capacities. This blog spurs and give data. In this way, it is a well endeavor to satisfy the inquiries about SAP.

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  5. Michelle Crapo

    Congratulations!!!!   What a fun time it has been, hasn’t it?  Never boring that’s for sure.   I started back in June 1997.   It was four weeks boot-camp in Boston for me.   I believe I still have the watch.  (They gave us watches upon passing the test back then.)

    So glad you had a fun trip like I did.       I’m sure your looking forward as I am to the continuous journey.

    SAP has/is changing so very much!  That’s what makes it fun.

    Michelle

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    1. Raquel Pereira da Cunha
      Post author

      Thanks Michelle Crapo! It’s such a fun trip indeed! I don’t intend to stop it soon 😀

      I didn’t get any gift after my Academy, only work :D, which was good. But I’ve got a beautiful watch as a gift from a customer after 3 years project working as ABAP for HR developer and functional consultant, when the project ended. The kind manager who gave me it was from US. I still have it too and use it often. It was another great project with nice people where I enjoyed a lot to work (I was sad when I had to leave), and helped me so much to practice my English 🙂 I think I still write e-mails in the projects (wording, structure..) following the e-mails they used to send.

       

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      1. Michelle Crapo

        From a customer is so much more important!   Wow!  I wonder if anyone else at all got a watch.   Perhaps it was because we were a customer of SAP and not a consultant?  Perhaps my company got them for us, and I didn’t know it.

        So glad you shared your journey.   It makes me remember mine!

        Michelle

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        1. Matt Fraser

          I had a customer — well, my direct contact within the customer — who wanted to give me one of their products — a power tool — as a thank-you, but I think he got overruled by his management. However, I’m still in loose contact with that guy. He took me sailing on Lake Michigan, and that was cool! That memory has stuck with me longer than the power tool might have.

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    1. Michelle Crapo

      It was 1997.   I went to bootcamp for 4 weeks – I believe.   Then as a part of bootcamp (no extra price) we took the ABAP Consultant test.   If I didn’t pass, my company probably wouldn’t have been happy.   So – 1997 – paid for 4 weeks for ABAP bootcamp, free certification test, free watch!   That’s what I get for being “more experienced”.   Still have it 🙂

      (3) 
  6. Sergio Guerrero

    Raquel, this is an awesome story. those consulting experiences are worth a LOT 🙂 I can relate. 20 very wonderful years full of experiences and your dedication as a mentor says a lot about your personality. I wish you much more success! Keep up the great work and community engagement.

    hope there is another 12 mins to spare and keep reading stories like this 🙂

    (2) 
    1. Raquel Pereira da Cunha
      Post author

      Hi Sergio Guerrero,

      There were many great experiences indeed. Different cultures can be challenging but also create funny situations. Thank you for your kind words and hope to meet you one day, then I can tell you some other stories in 12 min 😉

      “La vida es demasiado corta para ser pequeña”. – Benjamin Disraeli

      Saludos,

      Raquel

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  7. Tom Cenens

    Hi Raquel

    Congratz on the 20 years of being active in SAP.

    Great story and great (fluent) read, always a pleasure to read through such an inspiring, positive blog post.

    Glad to be on the same team.

    Tom

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