Head of SAP HANA Spatial & Document Store
At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.
I have an employer, who offers me a challenging, inspirational and fun work environment that flexibly adjusts to my sometimes-chaotic private life.
I finished high school with an F grade in math but went on to study math and computer science. Thankfully I managed to wash away the shame of my high school grade with a very good diploma.
During school and university, I did a variety of jobs and can call myself an experienced waiter, bartender, lumber mill worker, supermarket staff, pizza delivery expert and event roadie. Also, I had my first working student job as a software developer towards the end of my studies.
Between finishing my diploma in 2009 and joining SAP in 2012, I gained experience in a small company as what I would call a “project managing software developer” and had the chance to work on global projects in Australia, Russia and many others with quite a bit of fun business travel.
My contract with SAP started on September 1st. That was a Saturday, so that Monday, September 3rd, was the first working day. I remember these days and dates exactly, as I had an enormous hangover on my first working day from my wedding, which happened on the Saturday (September 1st). So, that day I kind of started two contracts (and thankfully both not terminated yet).
A typical day starts with a family breakfast. Afterwards I take my 3 kids to Kindergarten and then drive around 30-45 minutes to the office and my second coffee.
When working from home, we travel to Kindergarten by scooter, bikes or on foot. Then, after walking home, I start working in my home office in the basement.
My first task at my desk is to go through my inbox. In many cases, this defines how the rest of the day will go. Often times, I find fun surprises in my inbox and get dragged into things, that I haven’t seen coming the day before!
A stable component in my daily activities is the development process of our team and our organization. As a development team we have daily syncs and meetings to orchestrate our activities. Although we are partially relying on Scrum, I would not claim that we are a Scrum team. I would rather say we picked the best out of different methodologies and ended up with an agile mix, that suits our needs as a team. I am sure most professional developers can relate to that approach.
The more volatile component is managing stakeholders. GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and (geo-)spatial data handling is a small but important niche within SAP. Beyond our existence as a software development team, we regularly join customer or partner conversations as subject matter experts. For these activities there is no playbook – this is a very welcome addition to our structured development work.
As I am a development manager, I lead a team of software developers. My main duty is to enable the team as a servant leader. I am trying to take over unfavourable organizational tasks and to keep their back free from stakeholders (virtually or literally) walking in the door. Moreover, I am representing our team to internal and external audiences. That may be management meetings, customer or partner meetings as well as conference talks.
In my previous roles, I was a client-facing development consultant and a rather technical person. However, I have never been in touch with C++, which is what my team is using as a programming language. When I started my current role, I always thought that this ‘gap’ would be my major challenge. It turned out that this gap actually was very helpful, since the absence of technical detail knowledge kept me from doing micromanagement and encouraged me to think about my role as a servant leader and how I can contribute to the team’s success.
Back then, I started at SAP in a unit called Active Global Support, where I delivered on-site and remote support services for SAP BW customers. Coming from a role as a mathematical software developer, that job was for sure the wrong choice for me!
After realizing that I took a bad decision, I was looking for a new job. At that time (not even one year after starting) my story with SAP could have come to an end. However, I read an article on the internal portal about one of the first Data Science teams at SAP – at a time where the Data Science, Machine Learning and AI wave was not yet in full motion. I was blown away from the opportunity to work in such an appealing environment and, luckily, I got the job!
The team was a consulting team in nature, that also was engaged in so-called “Custom Development Projects”. THIS was the place where I really wanted to be at that time! The job offered me a combination of bringing in my math skills, of doing software development and of having heavy customer interaction (be it on-site or remote). I always valued seeing my software in action at customer site. That started with visiting steel manufacturing plants and ended with observing oil fields in Texas. Getting that external feedback and seeing something tangible proves the business value of what we are creating as a team.
My team later moved to SAP’s Custom Development Organization (nowadays called SAP Innovative Business Solutions). The focus shifted slightly away from doing consulting and more towards custom development projects. This move was in harmony with the changes in my private family life. I still visited customer sites but had the chance to do most of my job from the office.
I was very much interested in a management career path and actively pursued opportunities within SAP. One day, I have seen the opening for my current position as Development Manager for SAP HANA Spatial. The position seemed to offer a perfect mix for my mathematical ambitions, my background as a developer and my aspiration as a manager. I did not regret the decision to apply for it. The position is keeping its promise.
My career so far offered me the freedom and flexibility to adjust my job to my private life and personal needs. I have a daughter, twin-boys and am awaiting my 4th child. It is easy to imagine that my job preferences changed quite a bit since 2012.
So, what attracts me about SAP? It attracts me that I have an employer, who offers me a challenging, inspirational and fun work environment that flexibly adjusts to my sometimes-chaotic private life.
Once I travelled with the famous Make-up Artist of ‘Germany’s Next Top Model’ through Germany and kept screaming teens on distance during marketing events at drugstores.
I was a pizza delivery driver during school, and I used to say that I would like to do that job but with my current salary. But I am not that sure anymore. I have learned that one should not underestimate the importance of a challenging work environment. However, I reckon, that one should also not underestimate the power of free pizza during work, and of fun customer conversations. At least the latter I have at SAP!
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