Gaurav Karkara — Member of the Month, January 2020
Welcome to 2020 — and to the very first Member of the Month interview of the year!
As always, we kick off the New Year with our annual January tradition of bestowing the Member of the Month honor on an SAP colleague.
Yeah, I know I kinda skirted close to that in 2019 — with a couple former employees and a current SAP contractor making the cut. But it’s tradition to give January’s Member of the Month to a bona fide SAP employee, and who am I to upset the ol’ applecart?
Besides, if he hadn’t been an employee, our latest entry could have easily been eligible for entry into the Hall of Fame several months running. For four consecutive months (and counting!) — September through December — he earned the coveted Diligent Solver badge. For those keeping score, that’s the bee badge worn by our heaviest Q&A hitters. It’s tough enough snapping up one of those buggers in any given month, but to get them throughout an entire quarter (and then some)? That puts him in some elite company right there.
On top of that, as revealed during the recent revival of the Blog It Forward initiative (shout-out to SAP Champion Susan Keohan!), January’s Member of the Month has plenty of fans among top members — getting nods in this Blog It Forward post from SAP Champion Nabheet Madan and this Blog It Forward post from former Member of the Month Sudip Ghosh.
As I said, he keeps elite company.
And his name…is Dalton.
No. Wait. It’s Gaurav Karkara.
Now let’s kick off the interview — and the New Year! — by chatting with our latest entry into the Hall of Fame.
Congratulations, Gaurav, and Happy New Year!
Happy New Year, Jerry, have a wonderful 2020.
Thank you very much for this recognition. I must say I am overwhelmed with happiness and feeling like a child who just got his favorite toy.
Gaurav with his wife and five-year-old son in front of Hawa Mahal
So I know you’re an SAP employee. How long have you been with the company, and what’s your current role?
Well, in total, I have been associated with SAP for little more than eight-and-a-half years now. I worked in SAP Labs for two-and-a-half years and then moved to consulting with SAP Solution Delivery Center (SDC).
Primarily, my role needs me to lead implementation projects across the globe from a technical perspective. I need to ensure that my team delivers the best possible, innovative, and quality solutions for customers while sticking to project timelines. Apart from that, I lead some skills transformation topics as well where we take initiatives to enable different teams on various trending, upcoming, or strategic topics like Steampunk, in-app extensibility/side-by-side extensibility, S/4HANA Cloud, et cetera. I get involved in imparting trainings and boot camps for such topics as well. In a nutshell, my role requires me to interact with customers, learn new things, and then provide solutions — which is quite exciting.
How did you come about joining SAP?
I believe SAP is one of the best things that happened to me. I can go on and on about how positively SAP has impacted myself and my personality, but this is not the question. So, I won’t digress further.
As SAP was looking for referrals and a friend of a friend was looking for a referral bonus, I got referred. I traveled 350 kilometers to attend SAP’s interview and it went good enough for me to get selected. In hindsight, it was all well worth the travel.
Did you work anywhere prior to that and, if so, where and what did you do?
I have been involved in SAP technical space during all my professional experience. I joined Accenture straight out of college where I worked for five-and-a-half years. Accenture trained me in SAP ABAP and gave me opportunities to learn and work on multiple projects. I moved nearer to my native place when I joined Infosys. After a brief stint of five months in Infosys, I got the opportunity to work in SAP and I have been with SAP since then.
Can you share some details about your education — where you studied, what you studied, how your knowledge has evolved over the years, et cetera?
I completed my Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Stream from Thapar Institute, Patiala (Punjab). As luck would have it, I got my first job in an IT company and started working in ABAP. I really liked the software development work, the work culture of an IT/software organization (five days a week — it’s usually six days a week in mechanical-stream companies), and lots of other perks it offered.
I worked on various challenging projects in Accenture across multiple industries and locations. I moved to South Africa to a customer site for a year, and this stint just opened the world to me. I learnt a lot about life, myself, different cultures, and it just widened my horizons. Working and sitting with the customer during all phases of a global roll-out was such an enriching experience. This is what drove me back to consulting space (from my product development days in SAP Labs).
SAP as an organization helped me discover so many different dimensions — not only from a technology perspective, but also from my personality perspective. I think SAP’s strength is its “people” quality. Be assured that every SAP employee has something to offer you, something you need to learn about, something you can imbibe in your day-to-day life, something that can help you immensely in your personal life. I look around and interact with people from different teams, technologies, backgrounds, and always get away learning something.
Gaurav experienced snowfall for the first time — in a big, big way — in the Windy City.
Where are you based out of and are you from there originally?
I live and am based out of Gurgaon. I stay with my wife and a five-year-old son.
I am originally from a small town called Rampura Phul in the Punjab state of India. This is where my parents still live and I visit them often. Rampura prides itself for its respectful record in blood donations.
As I mentioned in the introduction, you’ve been racking up the Diligent Solver badges since September, and looking at your profile, it seems your contributions were fairly sporadic prior to that. What happened that drove your desire to participate more in Q&A in late 2019?
It all started when I traveled to Chandigarh to speak at an SAP Inside Track event organized by Nabheet. I always had this desire to be active on SAP Community as this community had helped me many times whenever I was stuck on some technical issues. I received good feedback for my session from attendees and a badge from SAP Community. I think this is what gave me my first push.
During the same time, I became active on Twitter (as I stopped using Facebook). I was pleasantly surprised to see such an active SAP community on Twitter and followed most of the stuff related to SAP. There are many inspiring people on Twitter who work for community with such an affection and dedication. I think their dedication is contagious.
I changed my account settings to send me notifications as an email. When you see that someone has posted a question and you know the answer, you will answer that. Notifications changed my participation manifold.
The same could be said about your blog posts. You’ve published seven — with one coming in 2018, another in early 2019. Then things picked up during the fall of 2019 and you posted four in October alone. Was it the same motivation that pushed you?
You can say similar motivation.
I could write these blog posts as I was working on something new, which was not yet fully explored by people. I worked extensively in S/4HANA Output Management for many S/4HANA Cloud projects in 2018 and then explored SAP Cloud Platform, ABAP environment in 2019. I realized that I know a bit more than many people on these topics and this is my responsibility to share this knowledge. Community is full of wonderful and insightful blog posts on a wide range of topics. Since my topics were new and upcoming, it gave me confidence also that I could write helpful and meaningful blogs.
When it comes to writing blog posts and answering questions, do you have a preference? Do you enjoy one activity more than the other?
I enjoy both as I get a different kind of high whenever my answer is accepted or my blog is published. Moreover, you get badges for both. I strive to share my knowledge on anything new I am working on whether through blogs or by answering questions.
Since you recently did become more involved in the SAP Community, do you have any advice to members who might be reluctant to answer their first question or write their first blog post?
First, enable notifications and follow SAP Mentors, Technology Ambassadors, and Champions on Twitter. Twitter is fun and full of learning.
Attend any SAP Community event happening around you like SAP Inside Track events.
And last, I would like to say that if you want to do something, just do it! Don’t wait. SAP Community folks are very supportive and forgiving bunch. Best would be to start with Blog It Forward.
Gaura and his family before entering Amer fort during their recent trip to Jaipur
I usually end each interview with a fun question — but since it’s January, I’m going to ask two. The first one is the standard one: Outside of work, what do you do to unwind? Any hobbies, favorite activities, et cetera?
My favorite activities outside of work would be to sleep and spend time with my son. Also, I watch a lot of cricket matches and never miss the opportunity to play some. I am into running and challenge myself for some runs — half marathon…full marathon — every year. I keep making the list of good movies and Web series I am missing and then binge-watch them.
OK, here’s the second fun question, which I can only ask this time of year: Any New Year’s resolutions?
My New Year’s resolution is to develop my technical skills horizontally. As SAP has opened to the cloud world, it’s imperative for us technical folks to transform ourselves too. I have my plans lined up.
Another one is to read more non-fiction books. They serve you well.
I have bought a yearly membership for a fitness facility. I know its bit cliché getting into a New Year. I hope it works for me.
Sounds like solid plans for a New Year. It was a pleasure talking to you, Gaurav. Congratulations — and Happy New Year! — again. I’m looking forward to seeing how many badges you add to your reputation in 2020.
A couple of folks have challenged me to beat my 2019 badges. Be assured that I am going to have a crack at it!