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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
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I’m not shy in telling Community Poll - Would you like a BI mentor?. I believe a mentor can offer me valuable insight from his or her past experience, which speeds up my own learning. Apparently, many in our community feel the same way. Within three weeks after Introducing the BI Fellowship Program last May, 80 of our community members from over 20 countries around the world applied to become a BI Fellow, and be mentored by one of our Business Intelligence experts. I’ve had to close application after such a short time because we only had 5 BI Advisors for this pilot program.

The mission of the BI Fellowship Program was “to create engagements that foster growth and development of future BI experts within SCN.” I want to directly connect members who want to learn more about Business Intelligence with those we consider as experts on the topic.

I had a few basic questions to answer:

  • Would participants see value in such a program?
  • Can pilot participants proceed with little intervention by me?
  • What would it take to expand this program?

During this pilot program, I would have loved to give the community a play-by-play update. However, much occured behind the scenes because confidentiality for our program participants was important. Before the program began, I received the support of SAP HR’s Talent Management team, who provided me with best practices and a mentorship process for me to model our program after. We also were fortunately enough to sign up five BI Advisors, who were also SAP Mentors. Once a BI Fellow was matched with their BI Advisor, they formed a partnership contract that established the goal of their discussions, and followed this agreement to guide their meetings until the end of the year.


  • 5 BI Fellows were matched to 4 BI Advisors
  • Fellows and Advisors created partnership contracts
  • Not all Fellows followed through on their commitment to meet with their Advisors
  • Lack of motivation and availability of time were main reasons for not setting up meetings

My take-aways:

  • It is not enough to have a process, basic tools and good intentions. A personal orientation session and regular check-ins would help maintain momentum. However, it is up to the Fellow ultimately to make this work.
  • More Advisors are needed to expand the program to more participants and/or other topics.
  • Confidentiality is still important.
  • There is value, and this type of mentorship program can work on SCN!

More importantly, take-aways of program participants (with their permission):

“This [BI Fellowship] program helped me to get a trusted technical advisor whose suggestions and insights helped me (will help in future) to execute and deliver the project successfully.” – Swapna Gollakota, Deloitte India

“This has been a valuable process for me both from a personal perspective in being able to take part in the program and as an opportunity to understand other organizations’ challenges and to learn about their experiences.” – Dan Grew, SAP Mentor, AstraZeneca

The following is a Flash file, and rather large one, so please give it a minute to load. If for some reason this file is no longer visible on my blog post, you can also access the presentation here: http://prezi.com/lumfh3l6u1gm/sap-bi-fellowship-program/