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Author's profile photo Pierre COL

Blog it Forward – Pierre Col

First, I wish a very happy 2020 to you and your loved ones!

Thank you so much Elena Lucarelli for passing the “BIF baton” to me. I am new to SAP and its community and I do think that this challenge is a good idea to better know each other in SAP Community!

Let me introduce myself

Who am I?

I am Pierre Col and I live in Lyon, France.

Click to discover Lyon in a beautiful video

Lyon is a very nice city, big enough to have anything you need, and small enough to let you be in the countryside in 30 min.

I am a white-bearded geek. It all began more than 40 years ago, in 1978, when I was 15yo, after I coded my very first computer program – on a stuff like this:

Yes, really, no joking, it was Z80 8 bits assembler with only 2 kb RAM.

In the early 80s I learned Computing Science in Toulouse during 3 years, graduating as an engineer with a master in Artificial Intelligence. Then I began working as a developer and project manager for a small vendor developing Unix-based software, before moving to pre-sales. I finally fell into the dark side of marketing and communications 😉, with various roles in software & Internet services for the last 25 years.

I am married with 3 children: a daughter adopted in France and a son and a daughter adopted in Colombia 🇨🇴. By the way, I encourage you in visiting this marvelous country.

How did I start in SAP?

I was working as Chief Marketing Officer for Contextor, a small software vendor specialized in Robotic Process Automation. When Contextor was acquired by SAP in November 2018, I naturally took responsibilities in communications and marketing for SAP Intelligent RPA, launched 6 month after.

I never worked for such a huge global company before, and my first year at SAP, participating in a product launch with SAPPHIRE and TechEd events, was a very interesting and intense journey.

I want to express here my gratitude to my colleagues in SAP Intelligent RPA team, because they are exactly the kind of people I love working with.


What are my hobbies?

I like reading books, watching movies and theater plays (many of my brothers and sisters in law are actors and actresses…) and swimming.

But my preferred hobby is riding  my motorbike. I do love sports bikes, especially those crafted in Italy by Ducati, and I admit that I ride sometimes a bit fast… I hope to have more time soon to do trackdays!

I also enjoy driving my ‘1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 cabriolet, “moustache in the wind”:

A story about myself that only few people know?

I am a survivor. A double triple survivor.

In 1988, I was 25 yo, just married and I was diagnosed with a very rare kind of cancer, a rhabdomyosarcoma. Tumor was quickly removed by a surgeon and, as it looked very strange, some of my tissues were sent to a specialist in Boston for the diagnostic. Then my doctor told me: “There are only 8 known cases of this cancer in the world, 6 patients died in less than 6 months and 2 are going well. You are case number 9”. I let you imagine my thoughts… To prevent any metastasis I had additional treatments, then for 10 years I had a blood test every 3 month and an RMI every 6 month. Tough times when expecting the result… but nothing bad happened.
I improved the survival statistics from 2/8 to 3/9, which is quite good. 😉

30 years later, March 19th 2018, right after our Monday morning meeting at Contextor, when going to lunch with colleagues, I felt a huge pain in my chest. Hopefully there was a small hospital near Contextor’s office in Orsay. I went there by foot, entered the emergency service and doctor quickly diagnosed a heart stroke. I went to another hospital where they put 2 stents in my coronarian system, and after 3 weeks I was back to work, without any other consequence than adapting a bit my life habits and calming my pace. If I had chosen to have lunch with my colleagues, I could have been dead in one hour…

Today, I consider what happened to me as the biggest chance in my life. It definitely helped me to grow. I learnt that life can really be short, and I discovered what is really important in a life, whether it is about working life or personal life.

My advice?

Carpe diem!

January 2023 Update: cancer strikes back

End of 2022 Santa Claus brought me an unpleasant gift… a new cancer!

Indeed, right before Christmas my dermatologist found me a melanoma on the top of the skull, in the scalp: to remove it, some surgery is needed at the hospital, and beforehand I will have scanners and ultrasounds to detect and evaluate a possible dissemination… First exams at the end of the week for a surgery as soon as possible, in January.

To be continued… and remember to be careful with the sun!🤠

Update on January 30:

The PET scan I had last week is reassuring, it shows nothing abnormal, so there should be nothing else to do but to remove the melanoma and then monitor…

So I’ve an appointment with a surgeon today, and we’re going to plan the scalp operation as soon as possible.

Update on February 15:

Scalp surgery is scheduled for Tuesday February 21, after which I will be off work for about 2 weeks… but meanwhile they discovered a large nodule in the thyroid. As if melanoma wasn’t enough!

Update on March 7:

I’ve had surgery on February 21, all went well for both melanoma and thyroid nodule, and I will be back at work on Thursday March 9!

3 hours after the surgery
3 hours after the surgery
A week after the surgery
A week after the surgery

End of this episode on March 17:

Back from the appointment with the surgeon, who had the results of the biopsies:


1️⃣ The sentinel lymph node is negative and the melanoma was the slowest growing kind. It was spotted on time and removed with good margins. Nothing more to do.

2️⃣ My half thyroid started producing more to compensate, no need for additional treatment.

In short, let’s enjoy Spring!

I will now answer Elena’s questions

Here are my answers to the questions Elena asked Meredith HassettMichal Krawczyk and me:

What is your favorite holiday destination and why?

My favorite destination is Italy, and I do not say that because Elena comes from this wonderful country.

I love Italy because of the diversity of the regions and cities, with amazing landscapes and so beautiful historical monuments and museums. I have to admit that if I love so much Italy, it is also because of the food. I went to Florence, Pisa, Sienna, Parma, Bologna, Roma, Venezia, Torino, Milano, Genova, Cinque Terre, lakes region… and this spring I will discover Palermo, in Sicilia!

How do you balance your life between work and family/personal time?

I manage that with a strict personal discipline, because I am homeworking: when my wife and grown children leave our apartment around 7:30, I only have a stairway to descent from our living room to enter my office. I do not spill time in commuting, which is very convenient: it gives extra time to manage pauses during the workday. I usually stop working around 18:30 to have cool time with my wife and children. So I can do a lot of things in a day, with a good balance between work and personal time.

If you were given by your work a full day every week to do whatever you feel like, what would it be?

Good question! I do not think that I would like to do the same activities every week. Considering 4 days in a month to do what I like, it would be a mix of one day per month at home, reading a book and cooking, one day exploring Alps, Burgundy and Auvergne on my bike, one or two days per month to volunteer in a non-profit organization helping people, for instance teaching mathematics to kids.

I nominate to the Blog It Forward Challenge

Ivona Crnoja

Jana Richter

Alexis Naibo

Dear colleagues, please pick 3 questions you would like to answer in your post from that list:

  • What is the most fun project you’ve ever participated in, and why was it fun?
  • If you were 20 again, what would you study?
  • How did you start in SAP?
  • Describe in one short sentence: “what need does your SAP solution meet”

 Thank you for reading me, and have a good day!


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      Author's profile photo Elena Lucarelli
      Elena Lucarelli

      Wow Pierre! thank you so much for sharing this blog! If you happen to be around Walldorf, you might want to visit the Hockenheimring.On specific dates, visitors are allowed to ride in the circuit.

      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      Hi Pierre, and welcome to the #blogitforward family!  (Welcome to the SAP Community as well)

      I've been fortunate to attend a lot of Sapphire and TechEd events - so I've become adjusted over time.  I can imagine how intense those events are for a first-timer.  Do you have any tips to share?  🙂

      I'm very glad you beat the odds with rhabdomyosarcoma.  Carpe Diem, indeed!



      Author's profile photo Pierre Dominique
      Pierre Dominique

      Nice to meet you Pierre from Lyon.

      Another Pierre from Lyon. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Audrey Stevenson
      Audrey Stevenson

      Hello Pierre,

      Happy to read about a fellow rider! Although I generally ride for touring, not for speed. I'd love to ride through Italy one day, but for now my riding is mostly in California.

      I am also a firm believer in Carpe Diem.

      Thank you for sharing with us!

      Author's profile photo Matt Fraser
      Matt Fraser

      Nice to read your BiF, Pierre, and I'm glad you survived both of your near-death experiences! My wife is originally from Grenoble -- we live in Seattle today -- and she is a graduate of INSA Lyon, with still many relatives who live in or near the city. We're coming there later this year for a visit.

      Author's profile photo Maiara Ellwanger
      Maiara Ellwanger

      Nice getting to know more about you, Pierre. Very inspiring post 🙂

      Author's profile photo Nabheet Madan
      Nabheet Madan

      Wow Pierre COL an inspiring post, You are blessed to witness all the various colors of life.  Welcome to the SAP Community!

      Author's profile photo Mynyna Chau
      Mynyna Chau

      Hi Pierre, it's great to get to know you a bit better now! It's inspiring to learn from you what you went through and how it influenced your life.

      Looking forward to meeting you in Walldorf someday! 🙂


      Author's profile photo Pierre COL
      Pierre COL
      Blog Post Author

      Even if it was too short, it was really cool meeting you and Svea Becker in person!
      Thanks for helping SAP Intelligent RPA within SAP Community, you rock ladies!

      Author's profile photo Svea Becker
      Svea Becker

      Hi Pierre COL, thanks for sharing your story. It's really impressive what you went through and how this impacted your life. You are a role model! I hope you stay healthy now! I also like how you manage your work/life-balance and working from home is a big advantage here (thanks to SAP 😉 )

      It was really nice meeting you in Walldorf a few weeks ago. I am looking forward to proceed working with you on SAP Intelligent RPA.

      All the best, Svea

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Thank you for sharing, Pierre! Enjoyed reading it. I hope SAP treats you well. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Pierre COL
      Pierre COL
      Blog Post Author

      Yes, I am very well treated. I never worked for such a large company before, and for now on SAP is a very good one!

      Author's profile photo Amit Khatwani
      Amit Khatwani

      Thank you for sharing, Pierre! I feel inspired reading it. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Sudhakar Jha
      Sudhakar Jha

      Pierre COL Thank you for sharing this. I started my career with microcontroller/processor and chip programming. I really can co-relate your journey. Thanks for sharing the same.

      Very inspiring.