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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. 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 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!

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 sceneries and 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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  • 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!



  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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! 🙂


      • 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