The main reason for this site is that I feel very privileged and honored to be part of such a great program. Since the Academy spans 'only' 12 months, a lot happens in a short period of time. To give myself and others an overview of the key events and milestones, I have tinkered with this interactive format. Thereby, I am trying to give an insight into my rotations and document how I have developed. I hope you will enjoy the read and get something beneficial out of it.
What is the SAP Academy for Business Transformation?
It's a program for master graduates to kickstart their career within the SAP Office of the CEO Board Area and sponsored by the Head of the SAP Transformation Office. The program offers rotations across 3 departments which should be located in different functional areas. Moreover, there are several workshops as well as a learning trip and (hopefully) a rotation abroad. The goal is to upgrade the hard & soft 'skillset', build a network and understand SAP's portfolio, processes and culture. This is the basis to become a future expert on transformation and help SAP reinvent itself.
How did COVID-19 influence the program?
Just like everything else, the coronavirus has also mixed up the agenda of the program. Besides the obvious consequences, like the cancellation of the learning trip to Silicon Valley and the rotation overseas, there are several changes in day-to-day activities. Especially the transition between teams has not become easier with virtual-only onboarding and building a network has become a key challenge. Nevertheless, the people responsible for the program are doing everything in their power to compensate for this. Among other things, an additional rotation was added to possibly still go abroad after all.
As a member of the Academy you get a more detailed onboarding than usual. The goal of the two weeks is to get all participants to the same level and up to speed.
In addition to various workshops for personal development and to improve soft and hard skills, there were also presentations from the different units of the Board Area. This helps to better understand the big picture and start thinking where you want to spend your second rotation. There was also information about the numerous benefits at SAP and other necessary organizational activities. Another element that should not be underestimated is how much you grow together as a team during the this time.
How to effectively and convincingly communicate your interests in different situations
Digital Boardroom Tour:
Learning about the product and seeing the place where major decisions are made
Information about career development possibilities sponsored by SAP (Mentoring, Coaching, Fellowships, Shadowings and many more...)
Since I had not worked for SAP before, it was not easy for me to make a decision for the first rotation.
The selection was already made last year and was roughly based on my previous experience.
My consideration was to find a position where I could stay in my performance zone for the most part (have a look at this Ted talk). This way I had more time to integrate into the company culture, build up a first network and still be able to contribute to the projects. Learning hard-skills was not the main priority during this rotation.
As I mentioned above, there was some overlap with my previous experience. The position was more on the business side of things and functionally went towards project management. The team also uses Qualtrics for experience management. Having used Qualtrics already for my master thesis, I was able to quickly find my way around.
Besides the daily tasks to support the team, I was very happy to have my own project. With this and in the context of the Academy, I was able to make a small contribution to drive forward the business transformation. The goal was to find a solution to create simple and repetitive surveys automatically. After a rather long analysis phase, I eventually started with the technical implementation. I used the Qualtrics REST APIs and combined Surveys CRUD APIs as web services in the Survey Flow. Depending on the input, certain surveys could be created and scheduled automatically.
By this I mean that I always try to push myself to make proposals instead of just contradicting. Since you really have to deal with the respective topic, this attitude helps you to reflect, understand and constructively move forward.
Never trust a deadline:
If you work in a large corporation, collaborate with various stakeholders and have technical components in your project, you should be very generous when talking about the time horizon. Now, that seems to be quite trivial - but it was an important learning to think realistically rather than optimistically in this situation.
Particularly if you have to work from home because of a pandemic, it is very important to show presence. It is worth being a little pushy and actively offering help. By making yourself visible you can get to know many people and topics.
I have never worked in an IT corporation before.
However, I have the ambition to understand the products and the craft of the company I work for.
That's why I was looking for a rotation in a development team.
I could break down my motivation into the following three parts. I wanted to:
1. Learn the skills to create working proof of concepts on my own
2. Find out what it really means to work as a developer
3. Find out if I could pursue a career as a developer
It was clear from the beginning that it will pay off to get deep insights into such a team. Even if you don't decide to become a developer later, there is a good chance that you will be working with developers either as a manager or on the business side.
First of all, I was a bit nervous about joining the team despite being 100% in the home office. But the team set-up couldn't have been better for me. Besides my rotational manager I had a buddy and even an extra development mentor. Everyone was very attentive to make sure I had a good time and felt comfortable in the team. Regular check-in's and a curated learning plan contributed significantly to making this a successful rotation for me.
Of course I couldn't start working as a developer right away, because I had no previous experience. At the beginning of the rotation, I had not yet mastered any programming language and knew little about the technical details of cloud development. So the first thing was to watch a lot (!) of tutorials and get into the code to build my first own application (running in the command line interface). At the same time I got sessions on general information about development trends and best practices. After I felt quite comfortable with Python, I started programming my own AI apps. I used modules like scikit.learn to understand how NLP works in detail.
At the end of the rotation I was assigned to a development team that worked on a proof of concept. For that we used React.JS and even managed to deploy a first instance on the SAP Cloud Platform. It was very insightful to see how dev teams organize themselves, how they work together on the code and how much time still has to be allocated for learning.
Programming is like Cooking:
Now it is even clearer to me that there is a difference between pure 'coding' and 'development'. Let's compare it with cooking:
Coding is like cooking just for yourself. You can use the ingredients you like, you can take as long as you like and usually you serve it to only a small group of people.
Development on the other hand, especially in a corporate setting, is more like a professional kitchen. There are fixed responsibilities, the selection of ingredients must fit the rest of the menu and you cook for a large number of people.
Everything is possible - it's just a question of resources:
Of course there are some things that are not yet technically feasible. But what I mean is that I find it very fascinating how fast you can program e.g. a simple NLP system without having years of experience. A very important thing to remember is that you have to think about what technology you want to invest in and allocate the necessary resources. Obviously it is cool to use machine learning in projects. But is there really a business outcome attached to it?
Knowing the name != (is not equal to) Understanding what it can do:
To explain this I want to share the following video showing Richard Feynman:
This rotation is still ongoing - learn more about it in January 2021!
Swing by or leave me a note:
Swing by or leave me a note: