"There's nothing more powerful than a good story!"
- Tyrion Lannister, final episode, Game of Thrones
In many ways, 2019 seems to be the year of unexpected endings and surprising plot twists, both on and off the big screen. At SAP, this manifests by the company going all-in on experience management and doubling down on SAP's vision of the intelligent enterprise. A new generation of board members stepped up to lead the company into the next era of enterprise computing and they bring a fresh perspective, attitude and mentality. In simple terms one could say that they are determined to push SAP's own digital transformation, challenging the status quo and driving change.
We all react differently to change - some actively embrace it, while others are more hesitant to accept it. Yet, most of us take change as a trigger to reflect on the past: on what was good, what was less so, what to leave behind and what to carry on. Same here... and after contemplating about it for various weeks I came to the conclusion that for me - it's time to move on and start a new chapter in my career, so in short: I'm on my way out.
Just to be clear, I have nothing, but the utmost respect for our new management and I salute to their vision/mission, it's just that after having spent most of my professional life at SAP, I feel it's time for me to try something new and pick up a new challenge!
For those interested to go down memory lane with me as I reflect upon 17+ years at SAP please read on, everybody else - thanks for taking note and for the great company the past years!
I spent my first decade at SAP within an organisation called SAP Custom Development (nowadays known as SAP Innovative Business Solutions), which develops specific solutions based on unique customer requirements. This is very similar to what other ISVs do, with the little twist that the unit is part of SAP, hence not really an independent software vendor. I started out as a senior developer, but quickly advanced to architect level where I (co-)lead large scale, first-of-a-kind development projects with globally distributed development teams.
While I was originally hired because of my Java background the first two strategic development projects I got assigned to were classic ERP and CRM projects. What was first a culture shock to me, turned out to be a blessing in disguise later-on - as having acquired an understanding of the business suite and ABAP did help me tremendously throughout my career at SAP.
From there I moved on to topics closer to my heart: architecting new custom solutions with Java EE and open-source components, topics that got traction under the leadership of Shai Agassi as part of his vision for SAP NetWeaver. In the years to follow we were truly pioneering concepts such as Composite Applications, (e)SOA, mobile and so on and my teams and I did leverage those emerging technologies to develop first-of-a-kind solutions for a variety of industries...
Before we move on, I'd like to pause to explicitly thank one of my early managers - Hans - for having been a true mentor and role-model and katharina.seiz for having been my wing (wo)man in many projects. Special shout-outs to the entire team and Jens-Uwe, martin.schley, Sascha, jens.steckhan, Markus and Daniel in particular. I also would like to thank Thorsten & Jan for having been the best office mates one could ask for... I learned a lot from you guys!
In retrospect, the last years at Custom Development were really transformative in my career as I started to blog about lessons learned and best working practices based on our experiences in pioneering new technologies in real-live projects. As a consequence I started contributing to the community on SDN/SCN and got engaged at SAP TechEd.
(At this point I'd like to thank mary.odabashian, gali.klingschneider and brianbernard for supporting & encouraging me in my early blogging days!)
Through these community contributions I got elected into the SAP Mentor program run by markfinnern and Aslan back in the days (BIG thanks to oliver for introducing me to the wolf pack!), and that was a truly humbling and rewarding experience... getting to know some of the most brilliant & genuine people in the industry I realised how much more there was to learn. I witnessed heavy-hitters such as Vijay, dahowlett, Jon, graham.robinson, Harald, richard.hirsch and others challenge SAP executives in ways that revealed their understanding of the broader enterprise software space and that was both an eye-opener and a motivation to follow their lead! I also had the opportunity to meet so many inspiring community leaders and it's a true privilege to have you as mentors and call you my friends: marilyn.hazen, susan.keohan, tammy.powlas3 and karin.tillotson4.
Towards the end of my time as a software architect I stumbled upon an exciting new product in incubation called NGP (which over the years evolved into SAP Cloud Platform) and I was intrigued from day one (thanks to my buddy thomas.bieser for looping me in!) At that time, the team was looking for someone to help spread the word and excite developers about this new platform and thanks to bjoern.goerke and harald.mueller I got the unique opportunity to join the team as a cloud platform evangelist!
The early (Neo) days will remain my personal highlight of my time at SAP and I consider it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have been part of the original product team early on and help take our baby from this small submarine project to being a central component of SAP’s technology portfolio …
When I joined the team I introduced myself as their “biggest fanboy” and I tried to multiply and amplify this excitement and passion ever since…
Over the years my role evolved from developer evangelist to a broader product management role & spokesperson and lately I had the privilege to lead the central PM team and help shape, refine and rollout the public messaging and orchestrate the creation on enablement assets and many other things. Sitting at the intersection of technology & communication I got to collaborate with engineering, GTM, product management, global communications and many more ...
I don’t claim to have left a dent in the (SAP) universe, but I do believe I left my mark and did my fair share to spread the word about our cloud platform and empower customers, partners and internal stakeholders alike to use it to deliver business outcomes. It was a privilege and honor to (re-)present SAP Cloud Platform throughout all those years and I wouldn’t want to miss any of it!
So, here we are: 130+ blog posts and 14k tweets, 20+ TechEd and 8 SAPPHIRE NOW conferences and many other events later - and all that is left for me to say is: thank you, thank you, thank you!
It would take forever to give credits to everyone who supported me throughout my career, but I do have to call out a few names as I truly owe them:
dan.lahl for being my sparing partner and wing man for so many years
Aiaz for teaching me the art of interacting with analysts
jana.richter, sindhu.gangadharan, karl.kessler, harshavardhan.jegadeesan and all the other PM colleagues for all those years of collaboration
craig.cmehil, thomas.grassl and team for pushing the developer mindset at SAP
Christoph for giving me the opportunity to grow
and last, but definitely not least my team mates: elizabeth.thorburn, chuergo16, Sandy, Friederike, Wei-Wei, Marc, bertram.ganz, Sanjay, jcgood25, John, daniel.silva01 - keep rocking!!!
For all those I didn't mention explicitly - you know who you are!
Thanks for the companionship, collaboration, mentoring and friendship throughout the years. If there’s one thing about SAP that I’ll miss the most – it’s all of you! I truly love having met so many smart & genuine people from all over the world and exchange thoughts & ideas, team up and learn from each other.
Chances are - I won’t go far and remain within the broader ecosystem, so we may still see each other occasionally. Either way, I’ll definitely continue to cheer for SAP and all of you!