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We work with cutting-edge technology and we do so at a scale that is hard to find.
After completing my PhD, I took up a postdoc position at a Swedish university, emigrated there and stayed for a few years. I immigrated back to Germany for my job at SAP. SAP provides awesome relocation support! Nowadays, I live and work in Berlin.
I was part of the initial core team of a handful of people who brought to life what is today SAP HANA Cloud – a fundamental service of SAP that spans the globe with many production landscapes and thousands of systems. My team is in the core of all of that. We evolve the service and we keep it running. If something falls down, we bring it up. We make sure it scales. There is now a three-digit number of people working in SAP HANA Cloud development and my team also maintains the entire development infrastructure and CI/CD. Despite the increase in size, we are involved in the big design decisions and we give guidance to the entire organization. At times, this can cause a high work-load and be stressful, but it is clearly something that challenges you and something to be proud of.
With SAP HANA Cloud, when I develop a new feature and roll it out, it becomes instantly available to hundreds of customers and thousands of systems worldwide. With our observability stack, I can see it getting used and adopted. This is real tangible impact of my work that makes it worth to get out of bed in the morning.
On a typical day, I first log into Slack to see what the team has been up to and skim through my emails to see if there are any issues needing attention right now. Usually, there will be some emails where people are requesting my expertise and colleagues from overseas will have requested code reviews from me. When the most important questions have been answered, I focus on user stories or bugs. Usually, I have a number of those assigned to me and I work on them and write code until the end of the work-day. Of course, there are plenty of meetings in between, like regular team syncs for example, but I try to schedule it all in a way that I do not have to switch tasks every 30 minutes and have time to concentrate. In parallel a lot of communication is going on in slack with my team.
My role is that of a senior developer, but I write preciously little code. I would guess that more than half of my time is spent on tasks that are more accurately described as system reliability engineering. Of the coding time that remains, I would argue that I spent more time reviewing code, discussing features with colleagues, or giving guidance than actually writing code myself. I think that I have quite significant impact.
We work with cutting-edge technology and we do so at a scale that is hard to find. Kubernetes is our bread-and-butter and we control hundreds of clusters running on different cloud providers with thousands of nodes. Working on this scale, we face and solve problems that only few people get to see and experience in the first place. That is something to be excited about and certainly a unique opportunity.
I like the level of equality that we experience in our team interactions. We have all kinds of career levels, job roles and experience in my team, but in the technical discussions that does not matter. The best argument wins, no matter if it is from someone with an “associate” title or an “expert”.
It was the working environment and the topics of work that attracted me to SAP. The topic of my PhD thesis shared the area of research with a group from the Hasso-Plattner-Institute in Potsdam, Germany. Some of the PhD students in this group were full time employees at SAP. Due to our shared topics, I regularly met them at international and national research conferences. Ultimately, we started to collaborate and, for example, organized workshops together. The interaction with them is what convinced me that SAP is a fine employer. This is one side of the coin, the other is software. Building software is my passion. And software is the core business of SAP. I could have worked for another kind of organization where software is just a side function that supports the main function. But at SAP, building software and then of course selling what we build is the core. And I want to bepart of the core.
I also want to add that SAP is a great employer when you have a family. I have a pregnant wife and a two-year-old daughter at home so I cannot work any amount of overtime. And sometimes I cannot attend meetings, no matter how pressing. Not only is this “not a problem”, I am being actively encouraged to make sure that my family does not come short. My colleagues give me maximum flexibility to accommodate any short-term changes of plan that are just inevitable with small kids. And the amount of support we get from the company as whole, especially in times of COVID, is amazing.
Outside of work I spend my spare time in sandpits, reading children’s books aloud or playing with bricks with my daughter. I also like to play a bit of guitar when she lets me, but otherwise I could not think of a more meaningful pastime. I read excessively in the night until I fall asleep. I enjoy being outdoors and like kayaking or hiking, especially in remote and lonely places in the far, far north, but right now this is not a phase in my life where there is much time for that, but I do have a good balance between work and life.
Fun Fact: My first job was that of an “icecream maker” at an ice cream parlour. That is not as fun as it sounds. You do get to eat a lot of ice cream but even that can get annoying if you have it day-in, day-out.
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