How Musicians can Make Great Programmers | SAP Mentor Spotlight Matt Harding
|The SAP Mentor 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.|
Musicians can make great programmers…
However, programmers are not always great musicians! 🎵
Yet, they both have a lot in common. 😀
When practicing music, there are many technical details which usually start at a slower speed and then work their way towards full speed.
Musicians and programmers tend to use skills that address analytics, logic, and a methodical approach. Both tend to recognize patterns. They have to organize complexity and break it down into smaller parts. Each wants to constantly improve to achieve the best results.
For Matt Harding, SAP Mentor, guitarist, aspiring music composer, independent Development Architect/Developer, and currently SAP Technical Advisor at Hydro Tasmania, he has decided to combine his SAP and music careers. He has developed songs and supported music endeavors that connect to SAP Conferences (e.g. SAP TechEd), Coffee Corner Podcast, and other events and activities.
It was great to catch-up with him from his home office in Tasmania, an island state of Australia, known for clean air, incredible scenery, unique wildlife, and a rich history.
Stephanie De Camara Marley (SM): Hi Matt! Tasmania, Australia is a beautiful island shaped by the wind, water, and energy. From your days at the University of Tasmania to your current role as Development Architect/Developer and SAP Technical Advisor at Hydro Tasmania, what inspired you to take the path of Computer Sciences?
Matt Harding (MH): Hi Stephanie. You know, to be honest, after my brother moved 200km from Launceston to Hobart (both within Tasmania, Australia) to undertake a Computer Systems Engineering degree, and with me having a late-80’s proficiency and passion in playing around with a Commodore VIC-20 and Apple IIe, it seemed like “the thing to do.” Plus, it didn’t get in the way of me chasing my rock and roll dreams in the “big city!”
Tasmania, which we call Tassie, also gave me every opportunity that the bigger cities probably couldn’t; so, I’m very grateful for this island…And is a big reason why I came back here to raise my kids.
SM: Music has been a big part of your journey, from the piano to the electric guitar. Are you in a band or do you do it on your own for fun? You wrote the intro/outro music for an episode of Coffee Corner Radio podcast. How did that come about?
MH: Quite a while ago, I penned the lyrics: “Dreams may change over time, but chasing them; I will always do.” So about 13 years ago, I decided to dedicate a day a week to my music and chase music opportunities. Be it helping coordinate Jam Bands at SAP TechEd in Vegas and Barcelona; or being inspired on the plane home from SAP TechEd to write the lyrics for the Enterprise Geeks Podcast (R.I.P) theme.
These opportunities helped me realize I can combine my SAP career with my music career. So, when Simon Kemp (now an SAP principal consultant) asked me to write a podcast intro – I was honored! For inspiration I recorded and used audio of my daughter making a cup of coffee to help envision the music mix for the “Coffee Corner!”
I don’t have a permanent band but am always enjoying writing and recording my own music hoping for that “hit song” which can be released! As a token Spotify result, I do have one orchestrated song you can listen to called “Friends Forever” which is another one of those opportunities where I combined my best man’s speech with a surprise song which I secretly had a bridesmaid jump up and sing. Still can’t believe the bride and groom didn’t question why there was a grand piano in the room! 🙂
SM: How did you become an SAP Mentor? Over the last decade or so, you have been a top contributor with many badges earned. How do you engage with Community members?
MH: Becoming an SAP Mentor was a combination of luck, my ongoing passion for seeing SAP done right, and most definitely having strong opinions, but also happy to have my opinions swayed. That said, it was not my technical skills but more likely my business process expertise that finally had me join the wolf pack.
And if I was to sum up my community engagement; I am always pushing to get a simplistic understanding of solutions, with a big focus on “why?” When qualified or when I feel I’m the first to try something new, I like to share my thoughts with the community to hopefully help others, but probably more importantly, to make sure my understanding of the solution I’ve designed is correct, so we all benefit. And the type of engagement may be via blog post, Community question, in-person at conferences, or via Twitter.
SM: Your alma mater, the University of Tasmania, has been ranked #1 in the world for climate action in the Higher Education Impact Rankings. Also, Hydro Tasmania, where you contract, is a leader in clean and renewable energy. What are a few examples of how you are applying your SAP expertise (e.g, SAP Utilities, SAP ABAP Development, SAPUI5, SAP Fiori) towards sustainable solutions and/or climate action?
MH: It’s funny…Unless you are building a business case, as an architect/developer, you don’t appreciate the impact of your solution from this perspective. Already, Hydro Tasmania clearly punches above its weight in this area, but I have to ask myself “What has been, or could be, the impact of any of the work I’ve done?”
The most recent example which I could foresee making an impact is a custom solution to show in real-time, 50 years of hierarchical Functional Location planning data combining Maintenance Plans, Portfolio Management, Existing Work Orders, Outages, etc. Now while it is early days for this solution, by being able to visualize this in a single SAP Fiori Elements based Application, maintenance/outages/capacity output can all be optimized.
When you also realize that Hydro is positioning itself as the “Battery of the Nation,” which could provide storage for Australia’s massive Solar and Wind Energy potential; then the above optimizations might provide substantial benefits.
It’s worth noting that before SAP Fiori/Fiori Elements and SAP HANA, this solution would have been an expensive offline custom solution outside of SAP. Anyway, hopefully that or the numerous other solutions I’ve helped with will “make a difference” which is what drives me.
SM: You have blogged on the Importance of Catalogues within SAP S/4HANA. What have you learned since you shared your insights by way of simplification for users, security, and the importance of a team effort? As customers and the marketplace look to SAP S/4HANA Cloud implementation, is this “App Finder Catalogue” topic still impactful and worth making a priority?
MH: People are a diverse bunch. I’ve seen users that always click the most unexpected buttons trying to do what is obvious to most people. SAP in the past didn’t help and gave too many options with every app, but have focused on that aspect and continued to improve in recent years. So, with SAP Fiori launchpad home pages and spaces now available, implementations of SAP S/4HANA might find the app finder is secondary.
To me, consistent but varied navigation options (like search or related apps) to get to an app helps support this diversity of users. Add to that personalized pre-configured views, and home page arrangements….well it all matters a lot, and the App Finder Catalogue is the backbone to all of this.
For example, just the name of the app should be questioned, as “create notification” can mean different things to different users! None of these decisions are possible without a User Experience (UX) led team effort including challenging the past old terminology that no new employee would understand!
SM: Clearly climate management and sustainability, combined with Computer Sciences and working in the Utilities industry, are big topics for students and recent graduates when it comes to jobs and their career journey. What tips and tricks do you share with next-generation talent to help them gain traction towards high quality positions versus settling for a job that may sound good, but not fit?
MH: This insight might sound a bit like a self-help book, but here we go: Be noticed, but don’t shout. This could mean asking ‘dumb’ questions to lift your functional or technical knowledge to a point where you can provide valuable input or alternative context.
Definitely don’t stay stuck on a problem for too long! Showing passion is mandatory. Keep positive, but challenge poor decisions with better ideas. Always provide estimates of how long a project (or initiative) will take and work hard if you fall behind, providing reasoning for delays.
Get to a point where you can safely leave and get a new job if the job falls flat but be prepared to go in new directions to follow your passions. And say to yourself,
“Dreams may change over time, but chasing them; I will always do.”
- Follow Matt Harding and read his blogs and forum contributions. 🎵Leave a comment below for him or on any of the topics mentioned.🎵
- Are you a Fiori pro? Spend some time answering some questions posed by other community members.
- Join Matt and many other community members at SAP TechEd 2022