THIS WEBSITE IS HANDMADE
MY INSIGHTS ATTENDING
THE SAP ACADEMY FOR BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION
MY INSIGHTS ATTENDING
THE SAP ACADEMY FOR BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION
TAP ON THE NUMBERS TO EXPLORE MY JOURNEY
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WHY?

MY MOTIVATION AND THE PURPOSE OF THIS SITE

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.


EACH STOP IN DETAIL

Onboarding

February 3 - 14
 What did we do?

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.

 My top 3 sessions

Storytelling:
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

Career @SAP:
Information about career development possibilities sponsored by SAP (Mentoring, Coaching, Fellowships, Shadowings and many more...)

1st Rotation - Transformation Office

February 17 - May 29 (102 days)
 Why here?

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.

 What did I do here?

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.

 What did I achieve?

  • Technical configuration of APIs as Web Services within the Qualtrics Survey Flow for process automation
  • Qualtrics Dashboard creation for the Remote Work Pulse Survey to analyze SAP-wide employee experience during COVID-19
  • Creation of a survey and polling inventory to guide employees to the right tool for their purpose and simplification of the survey request process
  • Qualtrics Research Core Expert Certification
    Qualtrics Research Core Expert Badge Qualtrics Research Core Expert Badge
  •  What did I learn?

    Proposal mindset:
    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.

    Show presence:
    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.

    2nd Rotation - Intelligent Enterprise Customer Experience Solutions

    June 8 - September 18 (102 days)
     Why here?

    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.

     What did I do here?

    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.

     What did I achieve?

  • Main project: Building a Proof of Concept for a cloud-based React.JS Dashboard to show solution usage data per module and tenant
  • Learning about the E2E development lifecycle with a mentor who curated a learning path. I'll just give you some buzzwords below:
    Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery, Localhost, Python, JavaScript, SAP Cloud Application Programming Model, React.JS, UI5 (Fiori), SAP Cloud Platform, Cloud Foundry, OData, Fetch, Async, scikit-learn, TensorFlow, Tkinter, Matplotlib, Git & GitHub, Approuter, Multitarget application
  • Creation of a Hasso Plattner Award idea which got nominated (including project plan design and video creation)
  • Preparation and hosting of the team meeting to gain management experience and practice communication skills
  •  What did I learn?

    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:

    3rd Rotation - Industries & Customer Advisory

    September 28 - January 8 (102 days)
     Why here?

    The reason why I chose this team has two perspectives:
    1. Organizational perspective: Since SAP is divided into different board areas, I wanted to check out another one. I chose the Customer Success Board Area as it is a bit closer to SAP's end customers.
    2. Functional perspective: I have always been interested in looking into the future and trying to assess what it might look like. That's why I chose a strategy team. The goal was to get an insight into the way of working and especially the tools that are used here.

    At this point I would like to thank Eelco, an alumni of our program, who recommended me to the team.

     What did I do here?

    In the meantime, I have become more accustomed to the home office and have come to terms with the fact that we will not be able to go into the office regularly during the program - let alone abroad.
    This certainty has helped me a lot to re-integrate into a new team and to try to participate in other ways. To be frank, I had some startup problems in the beginning, as I had to switch from a very granular level of work - directly on the code - to a much more abstract, strategic level.

    As already mentioned in the Why here section, I wanted to get to know the tools that a strategy team uses. Therefore, it was very cool to be able to work on a project that would establish a governance model for exactly such a tool. I was able to support in different areas. Mainly in the process description, review loops, roles and responsibilities and a format to assign access rights.
    Moreover, I had the chance to work on strategic presentations for the SAP executive board. This gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about strategic communication and investment cases.

    I also casually participated in a so-called trailblazer. This is a method to work on new solutions for a concrete business problem. The special thing about it was that many smart people from various SAP domains but also from outside SAP contributed to it. The resulting idea will soon go into the next round and I am excited to see how it will develop.

     What did I achieve?

  • Setting up the governance model including a professional explainer video, format for sharing and access approval, templates, etc.
  • Creation of a dashboard to visualize the tool's content in an accumulated way
  • Becoming part of a team that will further work on the idea generated during the trailblazer
  •  What did I learn?

    Timing:
    For strategic projects, especially within IT, timing is very important. Here I mean both time to market but also a fast go to market. Especially considering the competition and the general developments on the market.

    Importance of vertical solutions for industries:
    My personal feeling is that COVID, which of course accelerated every customer's business transformation, and the subsequent move to the cloud also had a big impact on industry-specific solutions. Companies need to serve the segment of one - which means continuing to work on customized approaches rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy.

    Software is everywhere and cloud is key:
    In taking a hollistic look at the various industries, it came to my attention that software is everywhere and can help companies in all areas to achieve a positive business outcome. Especially with the rise of the cloud and its associated pay-as-you-go approach and access to cutting-edge technologies, companies can move their applications even closer to the customer. In my opinion, this trend will continue with the adoption of 5G technology, as the cloud can be accessed reliably and quickly from almost everywhere.
    That's why I decided to dive even deeper into cloud computing in 2021 while focusing rather on the resulting business outcomes.

    4th Rotation - Cloud Controlling Center of Excellence & Office of the CEO Board Area Controlling

    January 25 - March 26 (60 days)
     Why here?

    To compensate for the cancelled rotation abroad, which could not take place because of COVID, I had the chance to do an additional fourth rotation. I therefore wanted to take the opportunity to look at an area that had previously been underrepresented (both in my studies and professionally). This consideration fit perfectly with my overall plan to rotate through the Academy on as diverse rotations as possible.

    After a few discussions about which area I should look at within the Finance organization, Controlling quickly stood out. Fortunately, during my 3rd rotation, I already had the chance to be in a meeting with the Chief Controlling Officer of my board area, Dragana. So, I had decided to ask her if I could spend the last two months with her and her team in Controlling.

    Controlling was particularly interesting for me as I expected to gain a deeper understanding of the SAP business model as well as insights into the steering of the various business units.

     What did I do here?

    In context of the short timeframe and my lack of previous experience, it was clear from the beginning that I would only get a rough overview. Thus, the set-up was mostly a shadowing in which I could participate in various meetings and learn more about the processes and structures in conversations with the team members.

    In accordance with my expectations we decided to split the rotation into two parts.

    I spent the first half in the Cloud Controlling Center of Excellence. There I was part of the Topline team and was able to learn more about the Cloud Revenue side. In particular, I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the Cloud KPIs and understand in detail how they are calculated and used for steering. I also got an introduction to the Controlling tools and systems which are provided by the IT department.

    In the second half, I moved to the Board Area Controlling team where I was able to learn about the forecasting process. I participated in the preparation meetings as well as the forecast review meetings and acquired an understanding of topics such as total cost of ownership (TCO), headcounts and other KPIs. Particularly exciting was the range of involvement of the team. This covered everything from simple depreciation calculations to reporting to the board.

     What did I achieve?

    As described above, this rotation was not one in which I could contribute much, but rather a learning rotation. Therefore, the achievements reflect my personal learnings and aha-moments rather than concrete achievements.

    Besides gaining a better understanding of SAP's Cloud business model, I was able to learn how to use state of the art financial tools and systems. By using the Enterprise Analytics Store and go through financial performance tools like the Latest Estimate spreadsheet and the waterfall model.

    I also got to meet a lot of great human beings and leaders. I could not confirm my initial rather conservative stereotypes of controllers and I am very happy to have expanded my network with great personalities.

    The amount of information that comes together in Controlling is impressive and contributes significantly to a better understanding of SAP's activities and decisions. That's why I believe there should be more networking with the business and I'm glad to have made the trailblazer for the Academy here. I can highly recommend a rotation, shadowing or fellowship to everyone.

     What did I learn?

    Controlling = plan + control + steer
    Controlling does not only mean to control the business but also to steer it and plan the budget accordingly, so that important projects receive the necessary resources. Controllers must therefore have a strong knowledge of the business in order to make informed decisions, too. Before, I thought controllers were only there to slap the business on the wrist when too much was being spent.

    Center of information
    Learning about the financial process of a corporation is an essential step to see the bigger picture and understand why some things are the way they are. What is done behind the scenes by controllers is remarkable. Controlling will stay in my memory as the engine room and heart of a company. This is where all the threads come together.
    If you're super curious and want to be the first to have all the information: go into controlling.

    You need more than one KPI to measure cloud performance
    With the increasing shift to the cloud, comes a major change, especially in terms of measuring success. Unlike the on-premise world, you have to look more at adoption and usage in addition to pure revenue. Metrics such as recurring revenue, retention rate and more have been introduced to anticipate financial performance. This blog by David Skok, which presents various metrics, is in a nutshell what I could learn about the Cloud business model in controlling as well.

    Graduation

    March 29 - March 31
     14 months of learning and growing

    My goal for the Academy was to get the most complete picture of SAP possible. So, it was clear to me from the start that I had to leave my comfort zone and go through as many diverse rotations as possible. As condensed in the picture below, I was able to get to know what I perceive to be the most important core and functional areas.

    From my point of view, the Academy was a complete success, because having the privilege of joining the teams as a novice and trying things out is the most valuable asset you have as an academy member. Every day has brought me a little closer to my role after the program. The feeling of being able to make an informed decision for your own future and not having to decide more or less blindly is another benefit that should not be underestimated.

    Academy Overview Wheel
     What I'll take away from the program

    Self-confidence

    Since I had no direct connection to IT in my studies, I had my doubts before the start of the Academy. Can I keep up with all these new topics? Will it be a problem that I don't have a technical academic education? What are the colleagues like? Can I meet the expectations?

    After a total of 5 rotations and teams in which I have always felt welcome, managed to arrive (despite the virtual set-up) and, for the most part, made a meaningful contribution, my doubts have not been confirmed. After each stop, my self-confidence as well as the certainty that you can make up for a lack of prior knowledge with the attitude you bring to the table have grown.

    Openness & Expectation Management

    There is one thing that has made life at the Academy easier for me, and I would definitely want to keep it that way in the future. To be open for new contacts, topics and to have the courage to express my own thoughts. I often had the feeling that especially in the virtual set-up, without being able to read body language, you can't really judge how you come across on the other side of the screen.

    That's why it is extremely important to communicate clearly and transparently. To beat around the bush as little as possible and to create clear expectations. Both for yourself and for your counterpart. If both parties know what is expected, it is much easier to achieve your objectives. A simple example is the second rotation. There I was quite open about the fact that I can't code - but would love to learn it. The team liked this attitude and I got the chance to work in the development team.

    Profession

    One of the motivations for doing this Academy was, of course, to find out what role would suit me best at SAP. What would make me want to get up every morning? It turned out that I would like to have a few things in my future job: constantly changing environments, innovation topics and hands-on work.

    But since it's not a wish list, it's also about where I could fit in and what I can bring to the table in terms of expertise. My experience in the retail and fashion industry and the strong connection to sports. In addition, a rather pragmatic style and the will to go the extra mile.

    Since there was still a blind spot on my list, it quickly became clear that I would like to develop in the direction of the customer and understand the real challenges within the market.

    These insights did not come from one day to the other but are the result of the insights gained during the Academy. I'm therefore very excited that in May I'll be joining SAP's Business Transformation Services as a consultant for our customers in the consumer industries.



    Heidelberg, Germany
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    Heidelberg, Germany
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