SAP Champion Spotlight Interview: Marssel Vilaca
The SAP Champions Spotlight Interview Series highlights key strategic topics, such as emerging technologies, learning, and other topics, and provides insights from SAP Champions and SAP leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, process, and technology.
Call to Action: What’s an example of a skill or work experience that your passionate about that has triggered many new opportunities?
The rise of hybrid and remote work provides employees new opportunities to take advantage of a work-life balance. The same technology that can make our lives more efficient, can also make it harder to detach from work.
Spending more time exercising, eating healthy, and spending time outdoors helps all of us become more inspired, innovative, and feeling socially connected.
Exercising outdoors provides the setting for a quality workout and time with nature. Whether taking a light walk or more strenuous activities, there are many physical and mental benefits.
Marssel Vilaça, SAP Champion and Senior Financial Accounting and Controlling (FICO) Consultant at NIMBL, Techedge Group, and his family realized how easy it is to fall into a pattern of less and less body movement on a daily basis. During the pandemic, they realized they were more isolated and exposed to a more sedentary life. It was time to do something about it.
It was great to catch-up with Marssel to learn how he combines his professional expertise with the decision to make sports activities a family priority.
Stephanie De Camara Marley (SM): How did you initially become interested in FICO? Did it start from your time at Universidade Federal do Para, or once you entered into the workforce where you are currently the SAP Senior FICO Consultant at NIMBL, Techedge Group?
Marssel Vilaça (MV): In 2005, I completely changed my career from logistics and financials in the Brazilian Army to an SAP FICO consultant. I started out by providing SAP Application Management Services (AMS) support.
The SAP consultant career is really complex and difficult. For example, we are required to develop extra skills (beyond what a typical techie might have) to keep projects moving forward.
Passion and insatiable eagerness for learning are the keys to getting ahead.
I have used lots of different sources of learning, and what I like the most is learning by sharing knowledge.
We increase our skills each time that we accept a challenge to present a lecture, write blog post, or answer a question.
Now, I work with SAP S/4HANA, as a Senior FICO Consultant at NIMBL, Techedge Group. I am also an SAP trainer and active on LinkedIn and YouTube for SAP content sharing.
SM: You and your family enjoy workouts and running marathons. In fact, you have an impressive number of medals to show for your hobby. How does physical fitness help with work-life balance? Do you apply the discipline that goes with regular workouts to your professional life in some way (e.g., the endurance to get a successful outcome)?
MV: Sports activities are a priority in my family. In present days, the world is increasingly technological and requires less and less body movements on a daily basis. In addition, the advertising world is trying incessantly to insert fast and poor-quality food into our diet. Not to mention the excessive appeal for alcohol consumption.
My family and I realized all of this during the pandemic where we were more isolated and exposed to a more sedentary life. So, we decided to do something and re-educated ourselves on healthy and quality foods, as well as added workouts into our daily routine.
Nowadays, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t take sugars, and I have a balanced diet. The best part is that I don’t feel like I need those things. By replacing these poor habits, it has helped me feel better in my body. I have lost 15 Kilograms and I’ve been keeping it up for 2 years!
SM: As a former SAP Mentor (now an alumni), what do you enjoy most about being an SAP Champion? In this role, how do you engage with Community members? Tell us about your interest in organizing community events versus just showing up (which is fine as well)!
MV: SAP Champions are representatives of the SAP Community. Members get access to all the knowledge and professional growth available for free in SAP community (e.g., OpenSAP, blogs, Q&A Forums, etc.).
This is why I help everyone who has come in contact with me to find content and even help them by sharing knowledge for creating their own blogs.
What I enjoy the most is to organize meetings and community events. It’s a great opportunity for us to get to know each other in the real and virtual world.
SM: In your blog, “5 Challenges You’ll Meet When Entering the SAP S/4HANA Career,” [Portuguese] you sighted the importance of “understanding your business process within the system” and “It’s all about the ability to deal with challenges impacting project teams, clients, and managing people.” It sounds like you see the value in growing and learning both hard and soft skills. Is that your intent?
MV: In this blog, I illustrate how to overcome SAP career challenges by upskilling to SAP S/4HANA. The main point is that professionals must be willing to learn new things all the time. We must live with the feeling of being permanent beginners, as the solutions are getting enhanced more and more in shorter intervals of time.
New skills, such as giving presentations, passing knowledge on to different levels of the organization, and always being attentive to problem solving are skills that go beyond technology.
Each professional must be prepared for change and how it impacts their growth.
SM: In a previous blog, “Steps to call SAPGUI transactions in FIORI,” you take this challenge for SAP S/4HANA Cloud and the user experience one step further. What are one or two high level examples of the risks if the business process is misaligned with the system? How can transaction codes in FIORI be impacted, and as a result make the tiles less precise for the user to get their work done?
MV: This blog has a useful tip for those who are using SAP S/4HANA on-premise or private cloud. It’s possible to access classic SAP applications (SAPGUI) within SAP Fiori Launchpad. The blog achieved very good community visibility. I also added my video from YouTube with a step-by-step guide.
Many SAP customers have more experience in the classic SAPGUI applications. There is a risk related to the business process with SAP S/4HANA initiatives because a lack of training in the new user experiences, like Fiori launchpad, is going to impact adoption. Fiori represents a change in system usability with new screens, new navigations, and the ability to build, test, and deploy enterprise applications.
SAP Fiori applications may have their use impacted if users dedicate themselves only to SAPGUI transactions. In SAP S/4HANA it’s recommended to use Fiori launchpad as there are improvements in applications, and also new processes that can only be run in Fiori, such as cost planning and budgeting.
Among several other exclusive applications. It’s important to use this SAPGUI functionality in SAP Fiori only as a transitional process from SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA.
SM: As someone who leads a lot of courses, as well as co-founded a company that offers instructional courses and materials about SAP technology, you clearly have a passion for continuous learning. What is your advice to students and recent graduates who are looking to land high-quality jobs that address SAP ERP, FICO, and related SAP technologies?
MV: For those interested in joining the SAP career track, the time is right. I go back to the time a couple years ago where skilled professionals were hard to find. Now is a great opportunity to learn SAP and the new solutions available.
First, everyone needs to decide if they want to work close to the business processes, work in the information technology area or both. The SAP system, as it covers all technical and business, is very broad and comprehensive. It makes it challenging to select an area of expertise to start with at SAP. For a Financial and Accounting profile, FICO consultant is the recommended career, for instance.
There are also components common to all areas of activity that are worth specializing in, such as cloud solutions, artificial intelligence, and system implementation methodologies. Be sure to check out the free openSAP courses and actively participate in the SAP community to always be on top of innovations.
For the ones who want to know more, feel free to reach out to me through my social media channels. I will be glad to provide more clarification.
Valuable and interesting. Thanks for the opportunity to get to know you better, Marssel!
Thank you for inspiring others, and your sharing your drive toward the future of work!