|The SAP Mentor Spotlight Interview Series highlights key strategic topics and provides insights from SAP Mentors and SAP leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, process, and technology.|
A common characteristic of successful leaders and professionals is that they often incorporate the power of networking into their personal and career journey. They look for opportunities to make connections based on a wide range of interests and perspectives. Clearly there is a science and art associated with mastering this crucial skill.
Peter Langner, Managing Director at ADventas Consulting GmbH and SAP Mentor, is a true connector. Throughout his life, Peter has been inspired to solve the challenges faced by those around him. Peter has been able to address complex solutions for customers’ SAP S/4HANA migrations and create a Special Interest Group for SAP Global Trade Management.
I had the pleasure to ask Peter a few questions about his career journey, expertise, interests, and professional insights on SAP S/4HANA.
Stacey Fish (SF): Tell us about your career journey. What is your role at ADventas Consulting GmbH? What got you interested in it and what you do now? Did it start back in your University of Hamburg days or more along the way (or both)?
Peter Langner (PL): I finished my studies of Informatics at the University of Hamburg in 1993 and joined a start-up consultancy that specialized in development banking. After the German reunification we went to Brandenburg, one of the new federal states, and implemented SAP R/3 in a newly founded development bank. I worked 9 years in this area traveling all over Germany before I decided to settle and be available for my family in Hamburg. I joined Tchibo, a trading company with a chain of coffee retailers and cafés known for its range of non-coffee products that change weekly. I got to know retail, wholesale, and the mail-order business. In 2006, I became freelance and started to give advice to global traders, and in 2016 I founded my own company.
SF: Community Service is a big part of your journey. Tell us about when you accompanied a group of 11-year-old children from Germany to an international summer camp and assisted a deaf camper. What inspired you to support this initiative, and how does it translate into working with customers and colleagues who also appreciate giving back?
PL: While I was traveling and trying to bring peace in the world by connecting people of different cultures, I had the pleasure of coaching at youth groups. One student, Christian, who was 11 years old at the time, is now a professor at the Gallaudet University. According to his mother, that would not have been possible without the intercultural experience he had in my youth group. To know that I made a difference in Christian’s life is very special to me.
Through my work in this intercultural context, I was able to speak freely in English and develop many soft skills. From these experiences, I was able to build up my skills and provide consulting services to a Norwegian company in English. Remember, it was the 90’s, and globalization and the Internet just started. Only very few people had the chance to do what I experienced and apply it to support both the community and business interests.
SF: How did you become an SAP Mentor? What does it mean to you to be in this program?
PL: Well, in the building of my office, there was also the office of [former SAP Mentor] Renald Wittwer and through him I heard about the SAP Mentor program. I was fascinated by the SAP Inside Track event and concept. For those not familiar … this is local grassroots, informal, low cost–driven and organized event where SAP Community members come together to share knowledge about SAP-related topics.
At the time, I was active in a local volunteer German Girls’ Day Program which allowed daughters to take a day off from work once a year to join their fathers to learn about technology. I taught the girls how to program a game in one day using Scratch, a high-level programming language.
Also, during this time, the XING business network was coming up. Through this online group and local events, I found other SAP consultants in Hamburg and from these relationships and interactions, we started a Stammtisch, local community meetups with diverse, like-minded people who connect and share thoughts and experiences about current topics. I was already on the search for a true, participant-driven unconference in this area, which is what I found in the SAP Inside Track Netherlands.
Coming back from this event, I started SAP Inside Track Hamburg and I am so thankful that it spread all over Germany, Switzerland, and Austria in the years after. In 2011, I was invited to the SAP Mentors program and I really love it. So great to meet and discuss SAP products and services with the executives and different teams and to see during the years that the SAP Mentors do have an impact for SAP’s future.
SF: As an SAP Mentor, and a leader of DSAG Global Trade Management Special Interest Group [German-speaking SAP User Group], how have you been inspired to share your expertise and experiences with each of these groups?
PL: One of the frequently asked questions from my customers is “How have the other companies solved this?” and I always had to say that I cannot tell them because of signed NDAs with the customers I work with. A few years ago, I invited all my Global Trade Management customers to come together for a day to get to know one another, ask questions about how they solve specific topics, and share their knowledge. My customers liked the day so much that they asked me to organize it more often, which eventually led to the SAP product management team and DSAG supporting me and this Special Interest Group.
SF: From your experience in the Global Trade industry, what stage are the businesses you are working with at, regarding the intelligent enterprise and business networks?
PL: Well, in the Global Trade area, many companies must deal with volatile prices. The product managers have tools based on Excel to do price prediction. For them, SAP Analytics Cloud would be great to use with the predictive engine. S/4HANA Global Trade Management adds functions for disposition, calculation, and expense management to Material Management and Sales and Distribution as they are needed by Global Traders. I did a YouTube video to provide a short explanation of what Global Trade Management is about.
SF: As digital transformation becomes the driving force for many organizations, what advice would you give to students who are looking to polish their skills and land a high-quality job in the technology field upon graduation?
PL: Take the chance to build a network during your studies. Maybe you can get a scholarship? Look for educational opportunities around your interests. Regarding SAP, there are training and certification possibilities for students which cost very little money. Take advantage of openSAP courses, visit SAP Community Inside Track events, and connect with experts and experienced professionals. Find yourself a coach or advisor by looking out for them at a user group of your country. Some of them have student programs.
SF: Thank you for your time today, Peter. And for any readers who would like to benefit further from Peter’s knowledge about Global Trade Management, please follow him here on SAP Community, where he blogs about this topic. [Find a sample of these blog posts in Peter Langner‘s profile section.]
What are ways that you connect with various communities and networks?
Let us know in the comments below.
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