Fast Track Career
Contributions which make you feel proud
Lately I read an interesting story of a SAP Implementation titled as It Takes Mules And Technology To Deliver Payroll At The Top Of The World written by Former Member. The narrative explained the complexity of the payroll process which is being supported by SAP Solutions. Since I was part of the project team, who developed and implemented the solution template and rolled it out to the parts of the organization, mentioned in the blog, in early days of my SAP career, the story reminded me of the discussions I and my colleagues, also new in their professional lives, used to have.
We all were very curious to know, but couldn’t understand well and therefore discussed it quite often how our individual contributions count and make the difference? Now, after 16 years of my initial contributions at the project, I’m wondering for the clarity I’ve now of the work we, the project team, did to lay the foundation of the technology infrastructure the organization has today.
Steps count, and are required
While thinking of how my thought process has changed over years of working on different projects, I was appreciating the fact that experience is the best teacher. And just as experience matters a lot in understanding different aspects of similar situations, there is no shortcut of success as well. Those of you who are new in and aiming to be on top of their careers have to think of the conversation which Jelena Perfiljeva referred as “to become a general’s wife, one has to marry a lieutenant” while responding to a career related query.
image credit: TikiGiki’s Clipart – openclipart.org
There are steps you have to take to climb up. While nothing is said to be impossible, the possibilities can only be achieved with solid determination and patience. Here I’m sharing few thoughts on what you could possibly do to go fast track.
1. Do what you (want to) do the best
The rule applies to all professions but to illustrate it better I’ll use an example of SAP. There are number of roles and specializations one can choose to develop self for, such as Consultant to Project Manager, and Functional to Technical. You could excel in your chosen area by learning about the subject matter, seeking direction on its ups & downs, and performing it frequently.
1.1. Knowledge: Access the right source of knowledge for the subject you are interested in. For SAP knowledge, the Learning Hub is the best & recommended resource. To understand any of the tool / solution, first try to familiarize yourself with its context where it applies, then get to know the steps on how to handle particular scenarios.
1.2. Guidance: The experienced people handle situations with different approaches. While you do learn how a specific tool works, knowing the methodology is advantageous. Work under supervision of a Senior person and follow his/her instructions even if you don’t completely understand why a specific approach is being followed. Over time you’ll learn the art.
1.3. Practice: The mastery can’t be achieved without doing the work multiple times. If you have learned a skill, do it again and again and …… You’ll see the difference, just after few attempts. Heard “practice makes a man perfect”? Try to follow as much as you can.
2. Promote your (best) work
You do your work the best way possible but if no one knows what you have done chances are your expertise won’t be sought. So telling others, by any means, what you are good at surely matters. These days, there are plenty of ways to promote your work, from attaining the industry qualifications to broadcasting your skills to a wider audience and showcasing your abilities to the world.
2.1. Certifications: Anyone can claim s/he knows a subject. Assessing someone’s skills, before trying, isn’t an easy task. Thanks to the institutes who standardize the knowledge requirement by offering certifications. Take the exams and get your skills endorsed by certifications in your area of interest.
2.2. Social Media: The LinkedIn is known for being a professional network. Learn how to build your profile (I’ve shared few tips at LinkedIn Profile of a SAP Consultant). Use the other social media wisely, as well. Just remember a simple rule whatever you do online create your persona. So talk what really matters.
2.3. Volunteer: Answering questions or writing blogs on the subject of your expertise at platforms such as SAP Community does take time but as you volunteer here, you not only promote your skills you also learn a lot from the comments you receive.
3. Align yourself with market
I loved the statement of Shakeel Ahmed which he posted on LinkedIn to tell about his recent qualification. It was “SAP is moving to S/4HANA cloud, so am I. Certification on S/4HANA Cloud – Finance Implementation – 1708”. What he has pointed out is very clear i.e. align your skills with what is required by the market. It could be done by learning the latest technology / trends, enhancing your skillset from 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and so on, and focusing on specific segment of the market.
3.1. Upgrade: You have worked on certain technology for a long time but if it’s going to be obsolete you shouldn’t be wasting time on learning it any further. While it’s true some of the businesses may still have the old technology in place and therefore they may still need the people who can handle its complexity, if you want to keep your scope wider, learn its successor versions.
3.2. Expand: No matter what your area of specialization is, you’ll find competitors who know more than you. To stay on top of the competition, you have to offer something extra or different to your potential customer/client. So if you keep enhancing your skills, you can stay ahead of the curve. Don’t stop from adding market-needed skills to your profile
3.3. Target: Choose a market segment to serve which could be a line of business or an industry vertical. By focusing, you can develop yourself accordingly and position in a better way.
Can you think of more points on Fast track Career? Please add.
Well - I find your suggestion for knowledge interesting. I learn a lot for free. Blogs, Q&A, and tutorials are a great resource. Then there is always open.sap.com. That's free and offers a great opportunity to try different things.
One of my favorite quotes "Fail early, fail often" comes to mind. Very rarely will you get things done right the first time. So get ready to fail and learn from it. The earlier you can make the mistake the better. Another quote "Learn from your mistakes". If you learn you won't make them again.
Be happy with what you do! Have fun. You have to enjoy it to spend most of your waking time doing it. Of course their are bad days. But your good days should happen more than your bad days. See your point number 1. I just had to add to it!
Always remember you are only as good or bad as people perceive you. Now that was a hard one for me to learn. If you work from home - like I do - make a point to reach out to your customers. Let them understand you are in fact working. It's not always easy to do. If you work at the company, make sure people see you as a problem solver not a problem maker. If you have some issues with something said in a meeting. Make your point. If needed follow up outside of the meeting. There are times when it is worth it to leave the small stuff alone.
Take a quick moment to look outside of your forest. Have you found that most of the things that are happening are outside of your control? Does your job offer you the opportunities described above? Talk to your manager. If that doesn't work, you might just want to move on.
Just some more suggestions. Great topic!
Thanks Michelle for adding more points to the list.
About the perception, it's hard to build and takes time. For that one has to do a lot, including reaching out to his/her customers; engaging them in a way that they think you are helping, not deviating, them.
Totally agree about perception.
As usual, superb blog and a must read to all the new comers of SAP like me.
Thanks a lot for sharing your experience!
Thank you Kamlesh for your kind words : )