SAP Champions: Spotlight Interview with Marssel Vilaça
For a moment last month, I think I may have become president of the Marssel Vilaça fan club.
It began early in August, when he hosted a Virtual Tour to explain how members can build their professional reputation through SAP Community contributions. I got up early for that one, and I’m glad I did, because the session was really eye-opening (which complemented the coffee I had brewed to start that early day). (A couple weeks later, Marssel, ever the consummate SAP Champion, led the same session in Portuguese — for the benefit of his fellow Brazilians. I attended that one too. I highly recommend watching a replay. Pick whichever one you prefer: English or Portuguese.)
Shortly after that, I found myself talking up Marssel’s entry for the recent video contest (a topic I covered extensively in the last Spotlight Interview). Then I was sharing my agreement with his observation about blogging on SAP Community.
In fact, I spent so much time talking to and supporting Marssel in August, I decided maybe it was time to log off Twitter and contact him for a Spotlight Interview.
So that’s what I did.
Hello, Marssel. Always good to be talking to you again. Before I begin though…allow me to wish you a happy belated 40th birthday!
Thanks a lot, Jerry! This 40th birthday was special for me. The year 40 is twenty plus twenty. So many marvelous things are happening to my life. I had plans to have a great celebration with friends and family, but I had to postpone it to next year. The most important thing now is be safe, and I wish the same to everyone. For sure next year, it will be as perfect as possible.
I feel like we’ve spoken so much already recently — through social media, during Virtual Tours, and more — so I’m not entirely sure where to start. So maybe it’s best to begin at the beginning. Can you tell us a little about your education?
Oh, yes, Jerry! It is true. It was an exciting month, wasn’t it? I have debuted in the SAP Community Call in the Virtual Tour with SAP Champions. That was a golden opportunity to show how the community is important to every professional as exactly as it was for me. I think all went well. I enjoyed participating in this event.
Well, talking a little bit about my education, I had my mother as my first teacher in-house. I was also going to school, but as she was pedagogue, I had double classes per day. My brother and I learned to read early — around 4 to 5 years old. We have attended school as youngest in the classroom. I concluded my studies in my hometown Recife. I did the middle school in an American Protestant school, then I finished the high school in 1997. I managed to pass in the State University exam for Graduation in Administration. I had classes at night, so it provided me the opportunity to line up in a military school. I thought it would be a good idea to make some money. Soon I noticed my income was even lower than a regular intern salary. There were so many discounts from original wages. Gladly my gain in life experience exceeded expectations. After 2 years of preparation, I was sent for the first time to live by my own at the age of 21. That was not a common place to be sent. I left behind my surfer life at the coast to serve the Brazilian army in an Amazonian battalion. I have great memories of learned life values and great people I have met. All this meant in building self-confidence to face new challenges in life.
How about your career? I know you focus on financials. How did that come to be your area of expertise? Was that always the functionality that interested you most?
I started my SAP career in 2005 as an SAP consultant. I had concluded Graduation in Administration and I got experience in logistics and finance as long as I was in public sector initially. I decided to take a new professional direction, and I moved to São Paulo city. I did SAP FICO Academy. I was always interested in the financial accounting contents as it is necessary to know the company’s processes end to end to design a good solution or provide a good support. I really enjoy working in this area. In the latest 15 years, I have been helped twenty-seven SAP customers and partners to implement and sustain their SAP projects.
What can you tell me about your current job?
I recently switched to another job. I am currently working on S/4HANA global support where I manage to work for branches worldwide. Well, I came from the past 5 years doing end-to-end projects, and I think it is exciting but so tiring. It requests travel availability and long distance to attend on-site customers. This way I was really in need to have a break. Performing SAP AMS position allows me to have a personal agenda and a life schedule. I am sure you agree with that, don’t you? I read your interview with Douglas Cezar Küchler. You got shocked with a man who doesn’t take vacation. I was about to join in a similar club. I admit that discussion has impacted me for the better. I thought, “Oh, we Brazilians are going to get crazy by full dedication at work.”
I am also dedicated for providing SAP training in S/4HANA and SAP ERP at the weekends occasionally. I love to teach people. It is pleasurable for me to have a profession that helps other professionals to improve their careers.
I also know you’re in São Paulo. Are you from there originally? I’m curious to know about your travels, your home city, and so on…
I have a lot of national experience. I traveled a lot within Brazil over the five possible geographic regions here. I have been through all of them and live in three of them. I have already visited nineteen states of the twenty-seven federation units.
This is a country wide and broad. Once I decided to cross the country by car. However, I had a bad car at that time — something around 60 to 70 horsepower. This important fact didn’t prevent me running 4,500 kilometers along Amazon, east coast, and south alone. I was driving 14 hours a day, and I developed a skill for speaking alone. Actually, I wasn’t alone. I used to talk to my little stuffed jaguar attached to rearview mirror. Crazy, isn’t it? After the travel, we talked no more. My mention about weak horsepower as an important fact was because I broke my gearbox and I overheated the engine pistons. It cost to me one additional week travel and 25 percent of the car value.
I am originally from the east coast but specifically from the northeastern region of the country and lived for 15 years in São Paulo where it is the main economic center in Latin America. I have built my entire SAP career in São Paulo. At present, I am living in my hometown Recife due to SAP project. I also brought my family. We love to live close to the coast and have tropical weather 12 months per year.
As I mentioned in the intro, you conducted one of your Virtual Tours in Portuguese, and you often write in this language as well. So clearly you’re looking to connect with and help other Brazilians. What can you tell me about the SAP community in your country?
I was lucky for finding in Brazil one of the most engaged SAP communities worldwide. There is a great work done by many active members and local SAP Mentors. It was really good.
Now there is a renewing process with an increasing number of new contributors in events and lots of new host cities. There is a total of twelve host cities for SAP Inside Tracks and twenty-eight editions held so far. The new SAP Community participants are more than welcomed here. There are many areas to contribute, such as blogs, questions and answers, and many kinds of networking gatherings to do.
I would like to recommend all interested people in getting to know more about professional reputation on SAP Community through my session on Virtual Tour. Brazil represents one of the largest market economies in SAP and has many very peculiar business processes. We have here one of the most complex SAP localizations in the world.
Both of your Virtual Tours focused on ways in which members can build their professional reputation in SAP Community. I encourage everyone reading this to check out one of the replays, but for those who don’t or won’t, do you have any suggestions from your presentations that you can share with them?
It was great to have the opportunity to present two sessions on Virtual Tour and be able to tell everyone the importance of participating in a platform like the SAP Community. We must keep in mind that we all need to share knowledge for several reasons. Learning by teaching is one of them, as well as being recognized as the authority of your professional knowledge. This is why it is very important to offer a showcase by sharing good content.
What about general advice to new members who might be shy about getting started? Any thoughts on how they can begin contributing to SAP Community?
Those who do not actively participate in the community find the idea of the community awesome and would like to be able to participate more. I provide encouragement for these people in my presentation in Virtual Tour when I explained the importance of taking the first step. It is important to take the first step for those who have some content to share. Even any comments on posted blogs is important to start an engagement. It is important the new member does not feel any type of barrier that prevents them from participating in the SAP Community. Never mind the idea of being judged by their content or by the individual insecurity of publishing something in their own name.
I will be glad if I can help you to post your content. You can reach me via my SAP Community profile and then I will help you review your materials.
When did you join the SAP Community and what prompted you to sign up?
I joined in early 2007 for asking questions. I was in need and I had called to a friend to solve some issues related SAP FICO. All answer I had was the SAP Community as recommendation.
After questions asked by me, I was curious to explore the platform features. Then I read some comments about pay it forward. That was fair enough. The knowledge comes from somewhere. So I decided to reward the community for all the help I received. I started to help other people and never stopped. Coincidentally two days ago before this interview, I spoke to a friend who referred me to SAP Developer Network — the former SAP Community name. We hadn’t talke for a long time. I reminded him the gift I was given.
You’re a former SAP Mentor, now one of the members of our awesome SAP Champions program. What does being an SAP Champion mean to you?
SAP Champions are representatives of the SAP Community. It is great to make a difference in somebody else’s career and companies by fostering learning and knowledge. This is what I think is special about SAP Champions.
What were your thoughts when you were invited to become an SAP Champion?
When I was asked to leave the SAP Mentor program after 5 years to become part of the SAP Champions program, I accepted it immediately. The purpose of SAP Champions is to connect the SAP Community — that we all believe in — with people.
We SAP Champions strongly believe in the benefits that the community can provide for everyone. It is important to know that we are not alone — that we can count on people ready to help us in our daily work. It is community.
Outside of your contributions to the SAP Community platform itself — you’ve answered thousands of questions over the years, for example — you host events, record videos, and remain active on social media. How do you manage to juggle all of that, plus your job and family?
Just like the SAP system that works with multiple components, we can do nothing alone. When I am organizing events, I have a group of SAP Community friends who play some role in each one. After all, teamwork provides everyone with unique moments of learning and socializing.
I also create videos and blogs. I usually work on it at night when everyone calms down and goes to get rest. I can only produce content when I am not interrupted by my professional tasks. I face this as another way to study new things. When I am preparing a lecture or blog, I need to get deep on topics and review and update my knowledge. Because of this, it is necessary to dedicate a few hours during the week to learn something new by the way you want. If you can teach what you have learned, your learning will be even better. In brief, learning by teaching.
Does that leave any downtime? If so, how do you like to spend it? Any hobbies or favorite activities?
Let me tell you something — I just don’t ask to keep it a secret because there are no secrets here in the interview — but I confess that I am quite lazy. I really enjoy having my time absolutely doing nothing.
In addition, I dedicate my spare time to my family with activities with my children. They are in a nice age — 8 and 6 — and I love to be with them. Because of the current pandemic, we have few options to go out and have fun. For this reason, I stopped living in an apartment and I moved to a spacious house with a huge backyard. We bought a dog…my children’s first dog. I started raising chickens. About chickens as pets, my wife didn’t like it one bit. [laughs]
I really enjoyed all of our interaction last month, Marssel. Thanks for taking the time to take it one step further with this interview.
We have done lots of cool things for community participants. I can also say it was great to work with you and Katarina Nonhebel last month, Jerry. It all seemed quite easy and uncomplicated. Just like I have heard about the S/4HANA solution: “To be simple, we have to master the complex.” I learned many things in this period. Before saying goodbye, I want to ask you for a selfie at the next event. I always take pictures with all those who build our community and I don’t even know what happened that we have no pic together.
Thank you very much to everyone who has read this far and follows the SAP Champions and SAP Community news. There is a lot of cool stuff out there. Bye!