SAP Mentor Spotlight Interview: SAP Learning

Originally published on the SAP Community

The SAP Mentor Spotlight Series highlights key strategic topics, such as learning, and provides insights from Mentors and SAP leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, process, and technology.

Empowering Transformative Outcomes Through Continuous Learning

Staying on the cutting-edge during times of change is more important than ever. One of the keys to success is the lifelong pursuit of knowledge and learning.

As business, technology, and user experiences change, there are a wide range of ways to continually refresh existing skills, acquire new ones, and evolve new ways to think about business and IT challenges.

To reflect on how to take advantage of SAP and SAP Community learning resources, Max Wessel, EVP & Chief Learning Officer at SAP, caught up with Tammy Powlas, Senior Business Analyst at Fairfax Water and SAP Mentor, to discuss what role learning has played in her life, and how she has furthered her knowledge through the SAP Community.

During their session they discussed:

  • Enabling learning, whether experiential on the job, or formal learning to help one progress in their career.
  • Adapting to many changes given the realities of the last year to address digital transformation and embrace the importance of continuous learning.
  • Pressing one’s skills; pushing forward to take expertise to the next level.
  • Turning to the SAP community to get inspired and engage in peer-to-peer learning.
  • Assessing RISE with SAP and how members of the SAP Community can keep their digital transformation initiatives moving forward.

As Max shared during the session, “When driving transformation, the more value we bring to the table, the more guidance we can deliver that helps people step forward, the better it is for all of us.

SAP and the SAP Community provide many learning resources to support building knowledge, driving innovation, and staying agile.

How do you learn? Let us know in the comments below!

Related Links

COMING SOON: Science & Innovation: 11 Ways to Orchestrate Your Next Job!

Author’s NoteThis blog has been adopted into a Job Seeking book which will be announced and published in the upcoming months. The book, which is written and designed, is going through the final review process. Stay tuned! 

Explore Featured Assets:
Target Multiple Organization – Template
Interview Preparation Sheet >>
Job Interview Preparation: A Winning Formula!
Networking Preparation
Interviewing Tips



Whether you’re a new graduate or long-time worker the best practices required to succeed have many common characteristics.

In sales and business development you must sell a product, solution, or service while in the job hunt you must sell one thing: yourself.

Back in the day, when I graduated from Drexel University, it was beyond hard to find a job that I truly enjoyed. Years later I learned that my graduating class landed in the middle of a BIG recession which added to the challenge.  My path took me on travels through Europe, Middle East, and Hawaii over a year’s time so it was not easy to jump start my career upon my return.

While I found work it was more about “settling” vs. directing my searches. After paying a former professor big money to coach me in “how to get a job” I made a vow, “If I ever learned how to find a job” based on a scientific and innovative approach, “I would share it with others who would follow in this path.

As a result, I have compiled this top 11 list for all who are interested:

  1. NETWORK:  Identify successful people who are in the field that interests you. Make connections and request “informational interviews” to learn about how they got in their positions and background on the challenges they face.  Ask for referrals and knowledge; understand that they “may not have a job” or know of one but they can point you in the right direction. Send everyone who helps you a thank you!
  2. TRENDS:  Research compelling business issues and marketplace conditions which impact organizations that you are targeting. Send notes to those quoted and their teams to make meaningful connections on current and emerging opportunities. Find out where investments are taking place – “Follow the money!”
  3. TARGET:   Confirm a target list of companies and roles that interest you. Connect with the economic decision makers (i.e. VITO = “Very Important Top Officers“) and their teams around posted and non-posted opportunities. Minimize primarily going to Human Resources and Job Board postings. See book list below.
  4. PLAN:  Develop a spreadsheet which tracks your progress. Set goals for each day and week and show your progress to yourself and perhaps one or two friends (or coaches) (Review: JOB_PLANNING_TEMPLATE). Learn the proper way to prepare for an interview.
  5. TIME UTILIZATION: Spend 70% of your time networking and outreach (on-line and in person), 15% with recruiters, 15% with job boards (i.e., etc.).  Too many job seekers have these time ratios in reverse and don’t take charge of their own destiny. Note: If you see a job on a job board focus on a 3 prong approach: (1) Post; (2) Identify who you know (i.e. alumni / friend / colleague; (3) Confirm the economic decision maker. 
  6. SOCIAL MEDIA:  Update you’re Social Media sites such as  LinkedIn and others so they can help you network and build your brand. Makes sure your resume is impeccable and consider new ways to connect including Twitter, YouTube videos, thought leadership blogs as well as building your own website to showcase your skills, work experience and related professional passions. Take down any photos from your sites that are not professional. Prospective employers will check out your Facebook / Social Media posts.
  7. ALUMNI:  Leverage the resources that you have earned as a graduate of a university.  Reach out to your alumni office and career services; make connections via the directory, events, and/or volunteer opportunities.
  8. VOLUNTEER:  Provide weekly and monthly service to a non-profit (i.e. association) or charity around the skills and work experience that you have now or seek to secure in your next job. Find a cause that connects you to leaders, professionals, and the community. Also, make sure you have some part-time work that pays a few dollars as well.
  9. PERSIST:  Expect to receive rejection and a few set backs. When you run into trouble step back and move ahead. It takes small steps to achieve goals; understand there is a process – you can not easily (or practically) leap frog to the end result; start with the end in mind. Remember the famous saying, “When one door closes another will open.”
  10. ACCOUNTABILITY: Accept self ownership. No one owes you a job.  You must wake up each day and make forward progress. Stay disciplined and focused and the results you seek will come to you…but they may take a bit longer then you would like… remember, “patience is a virtue” (just not too much of it!)
  11. 3 PRONG APPROACH:  When you post for a position (i.e. LinkedIn, Indeed, Job Board) make sure you ask yourself:  Who do I know or connect to (i.e. Alumni)? Who is the top economic decision maker (i.e. VITO, CEO, Chief Marketing, Finance, Operations, Information Officer or their teams)?

As you contemplate this list ask yourself what are you passionate about? Where do your skills, education, and work experiences point you to?

Think of a job as an exchange of time and services in return for money. What can you provide that is worth the time and money to an employer who is investing in you?

During your search create small amounts of value along the way. Give your skills to others for free in small amounts. Chip away and success will be yours!

Remember…everything on this list takes time and hard work.

Over the years when I have shared these points with friends and colleagues looking for work they yield results 100% of the time, BUT only a small percent are willing to do what it takes.

It takes discipline and persistence to search for the right position.

If you are willing to climb the steps vs. expect an easy elevator ride to the top than you can secure a great job based on a proven scientific methodology and practicing an innovative approach along the way.

Reading List:
Selling to VITO (“Very Important Top Officer”) – Anthony Parinello
Winners Dream – Bill McDermott
Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Richard D. Blumberg, President, World Sales Solutions, writes this series of blogs to help senior executives and their teams, leaders, influencers, educators, and students develop effective strategies and tactical execution which results in more revenues, profits, growth, jobs, and value. More >>



Job Interview Preparation: A Winning Formula!

The blog below first appeared in an article I wrote for Drexel’s Steinbright Career Development Center newsletter.  These lessons learned can apply to students, recent graduates, or anyone in need of a job or career.

As background… Upon graduating from Drexel, I traveled the world for a year and then returned and found it difficult to find a job. During this challenging time I “vowed” that if I ever learned how to find a job (or career) based on a methodology that worked, I’d share it with those who are interested.

These approaches have been tested by myself and many others as well as shared at career workshops that I lead —and they worked 100% of the time by those willing to “climb the stairs” vs. “wait for the elevator” to achieve their goals and objectives.

Today, you might agree that finding a job is the ultimate form of business development.  In fact, from a sales perspective you only have to sell one thing: yourself.
– – – 

Job Interview Preparation: A Winning Formula!
When you sit down at your next interview you might ask yourself a simple question: “Am I prepared? What steps have I taken to win this opportunity?” The answer may surprise you in that over 90% of the students that my team and I have sat down with over the last 3.5+ years are going into the interview without preparation. Yes, they are going in cold.

Of course, that puts the 10% who followed the steps below at an advantage because they’re the ones who got the job or were very close contenders. For the interviewer it’s very clear who prepared and who just showed up.

As a fellow Dragon, active alumni, and Drexel co-op (“intern”) employer, I ask the simple question, “Why not prepare?”

Those of us with a background or interest in sports, entertainment, and achieving success know that the difference between winning and losing can be extremely small. A key characteristic of winners and leaders is preparation.

What should you, as a student, consider before your next co-op interview?

1. Research, Research, Research

    • Do you know the company’s products or solutions?
    • Who are their customers?
    • What do you know about their CEO and executive leaders?
    • What news or press coverage has taken place recently?
    • What is the company’s financial outlook in the marketplace?

2. Job Description

    • Have you thoroughly read the job description prior to the interview?
    • How can you connect your skills, education, and work experience to the job?

3. Prepare Questions

    • Do you have more to say than this very popular question, “Tell me about the day-to-day activities of this position?”
    • Your questions should reflect your research on the company and the position; they should show thoughts and interests versus obvious points that are very basic on the website or company brochure

4. Follow-up

    • Thank you notes should be sent within 24 to 48 hours after the interview to everyone who interviewed you
    • Use the thank you note to summarize your strengths and genuine interest in the position

Drexel University co-op students have a lot to offer employers. Their contributions can be an integral part of a company. Given the value to both the student and employer, it makes sense to take the time to prepare.

Every interview is a learning experience. What takes place in the co-op interview is a building block to future interviews. By developing your skills in the interview process you will be better prepared to win the job you want versus settling.

Practice the Winning Co-op Interview Formula:
Success = Research + Job Description + Questions + Follow-up

Featured blogLearn more >>

Richard D. Blumberg, President, World Sales Solutions, writes this series of blogs to help senior executives and their teams, leaders, influencers, educators, and students develop effective strategies and tactical execution which results in more revenues, profits, growth, jobs, and value. More >>



Alumni Career Services: Fired, Displaced, Downsized, Restless – How Can I Win My Next Job?

Happy to provide career and job insights to those who are interested in “climbing the steps towards success!”  Here’s a recent session I gave to fellow Drexel alumni based on my own journey and sharing insights with alumni and students over the years…  Whether you’re selling a product, service or solution “or” yourself for your next job…many of the skills are the same!  The methods used are proven…they work for those who leverage their skills, education, and work experiences into valued, growth areas and have persistent follow-up.

Drexel Alumni Career Services Webinar:
“Fired, Displaced, Downsized, Restless – How Can I Win My Next Job?”

An Online Career Services Workshop
Rich Blumberg ’84, President, World Sales Solutions, LLC

Featured Assets:  Slides | Planning Template

This recent session focused on the strategy and tactics of moving forward with a job and career search during challenging times.  Given the fact that there are an “abundance” of opportunities in the marketplace and that you have a great education from Drexel, what specific steps can you take to identify and win your next job? Whether your 100% in need of a job or have one but require a change, this presentation will share time tested, proven approaches to be happier with the process, make money, and achieve the outcomes that you deserve.

Topics included:

  • A blue print for success
    • Putting your predicament into context
    • The power to begin
    • The art & science of survival
    • Positioning for triumph
    • Identifying the economic decision maker
    • The information advantage
    • Steps you can take during the summer months
  • Closing the deal

View from the Top: Leadership Secrets

The blog below and video was originally posted on the SAP Community Network after a November 2012 Fireside Chat with Bill McDermott, co-CEO of SAP and President John Fry at Drexel.

View from the Top: Bill McDermott shares his success secrets at a #fireside chat!

“In the end, it’s the customer and the customer alone that determines if we have a job

“You need to constantly be innovating for the future, while you’re executing for the present
…the best leaders understand that!”

“You all can make a difference, the young generation coming out of the universities and coming into the workforce. You see things we don’t see, your ideas are unique, you understand where the world is going, you understand social. You get all that, and I think that’s such an unbelievable opportunity to help the economy, create innovation, create jobs, and push things forward.”
—Quotes from Bill McDermott, co-CEO of SAP AG

Learning from Top Leaders

The “View from the Top” Fireside Chat with Bill McDermott, co-CEO of SAP and Drexel University’s President John Fry on November 1 was an amazing opportunity to learn from two top leaders who have a lot in common with each other. Both are visionaries who provide transformational leadership to large organizations and most importantly they both value helping the community.

The topics included themes such as jobs, trends, and leadership which are of interest to students, alumni, professors, and professionals both in the audience and around the globe far beyond the “375” who attended in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Sacramento, California (USA) (via a live video feed) along with 30-40 who were turned away due to the auditorium’s capacity!

A Students Reflection – Now and Years Later

Everyone who attended benefited including:

  • Students who are looking for their job upon graduation
  • Alumni who are successful and want to take their career to the next level
  • Professors and lecturers who teach SAP-related courses and/or want to position their students for a competitive marketplace
  • Recent graduates who have their first job and want to navigate to achieve success within their organization and with customers
  • Employees and professionals who want to learn about the recipes for success!

The bottom-line is that in my case, I can remember… a time when I was a student (back in the day!)… when I was (& still am) hungry to receive wisdom, knowledge and lessons learned from top executives, leaders, and experts. Often it can be hard to come by. The opportunity to learn from these leaders was an amazing opportunity!

So What are the Takeaways?

All of us are on a journey! From our early school days to now we are all the product of our decisions. Learning from top leaders can provide us insights on how to be successful. We can learn… What worked for them? How can we apply it to our own situations? What big or small idea can help us to save time and accelerate our careers and ultimately win!?

The topics shared included:

  • Jobs – Competing to jumpstart your career
  • Trends – Identifying global opportunities in the marketplace including China and beyond
  • Leadership – Sharing lessons learned and best practices

But there’s an even a greater reason why this event was memorable and worth watching on the video… and that’s the stories…

Bill McDermott provided masterful insights by telling us everyday stories that he experienced from his first business owning a deli (and a few video games!) at age 17 to his first job upon graduation at Xerox and how he conducted his business as a Xerox “Marketing Representative” on the streets of New York City selling door-to-door. While he did share insights on SAP including the value of the SAP University Alliances Program which were phenominal, a lot of his discussion was down-to-earth vignettes which we can all relate to in our everyday work, lives, and plans for the future.

President John Fry did a wonderful job of providing his insights including a very strategic Innovation Neighborhood planned as the gateway from 30th Street (a top East Coast transportation hub in the United States) to Drexel’s campus in West Philadelphia (& University City).

In addition, he ensured that the flow of the Fireside Chat provided the maximum value for the audience..


The knowledge shared will help and inspire students, alumni, professors/lecturers, and professionals from around the globe who are the “current” and “future” business and IT leaders!

The opportunity to have a front row seat, to hear the video, and review the recap on the Business Innovation site will provide inspiration to all who take the time to learn more!

In my case, having watched this event live from the front row; I can truly say that listening to the video the second time around is even more inspirational: I’m looking forward to sharing it with my team as well as hearing it a few more times!



Eiffel Tower: Would you take the stairs or elevator?

My family and I just finished a wonderful vacation in London and France. One of the many highlights was arriving in Paris and visiting the Eiffel Tower.

Sharon and I had weighed going to the top of the tower versus just stopping by and walking around it. Both of us had visited Paris in years past and felt we would be happy either way. However, once my teenagers saw this amazing global icon there was no doubt (or uncertainty) when they “insisted” we go up it and see it for ourselves. In fact, it became a mission long before we even got to the base of this impressive structure!

Prior to going on our family holiday we had heard a few points of view including: the need to get tickets in advance; long waits to go up the elevator; and the hotel said it was booked ’til June. Because we were on the fence about going up it until we got there we did not have advanced tickets. Perhaps we would be out of luck and miss a chance for a lot of fun?

Suddenly it occurred to me that if you were willing to walk the 1710 steps then there might be a way to have a little adventure. In fact, I was thinking there had to be a way to go straight up without a wait.

As we assessed this possibility I was reminded of Zig Ziglar, the renown salesman, motivator, and author, who told the famous story of the Washington Monument and that “you can take the stairs to get to the top.” He reminded us that there are long lines to achieve success and dreams but if you’re willing to put in the work and climb the steps one at a time you can achieve your goals. Now we were watching this story unfold in front of our eyes.

Without hesitation we found the ticket office for the stairs only. A few Euros later we were on our way. As I looked down I saw the long line to the elevator. I was happy to have the opportunity to view Paris from 320 metres (1,050 ft) or about the same height as an 81-story building. Most importantly we were on our way without any roadblocks to see what it looked like from the top.

As I experienced the tower and learned about Gustave Eiffel, the visionary designer whose company built the tower, I realized that there were many hidden gems to learn about by way of invention, innovation, and engineering accomplishments that have inspired visitors from around the world including:

    • The tower was a marketing tool to attract interest and draw in the crowds for the 1889 World’s Fair
    • It had been the largest structure of it’s time until the Chrysler skyscraper surpassed it in 1930 and is now copied in many great cities (i.e. Vegas, Tokyo, etc.)
    • Gustave Eiffel, a great entrepreneur, had previously been contracted by Auguste Bartholdi who needed an engineer to build the structure for the Statue of Liberty
    • Thomas Edison visited the Gustave in his office on top of the tower and was very impressed
    • The radio antennas at the top of the tower provided economic value and helped avert it from being torn down

As I climbed down the steps and finished this amazing adventure I wondered how many times we realize that opportunity exists if we are willing to apply ourselves one step at a time?

If we wait for the long line…we might find we’re still waiting long after the opportunity has passed us by!  With success and confidence comes the opportunity to climb to new heights on our vacations and in our daily lives!



Prioritizing Priorities!

A well know CEO recently said, “I make tens of thousands of decisions each year but only 2 or 3 truly made a significant difference to my organization’s short and longer-term bottom-line.”

When I heard this statement I wondered what did this mean? How can 2 or 3 decisions amongst so many important ones be viewed as the ones that stood out and really made the difference?

While the ultimate answer is complex there are certain best practices and lessons learned that can help us understand which decisions lead to the best results.

Many senior executives and leaders consider the following attributes when assessing top priorities:

  • Compelling Business Issues – Understanding changes, actions, and incidents which dramatically impact an organization such as mergers and acquisitions, regulatory and compliance issues, and other major events
  • Market Trends – Tracking primary and secondary financial conditions that can go up or down based on a myriad of factors ranging from supply and demand, access to resources, and conditions that impact people at a global, regional, country, and community level
  • Customer Requirements – Listening to and anticipating the requirements of the ultimate audience making the decisions related to success or failure while hearing them from the an “outside in” view (vs. inside out)
  • Executive / Leadership Priorities – Monitoring the vision, roadmap, and direction of the very important top officers who are responsible for the economic direction of an organization or group

When viewed alone anyone of these items above can fall short. But when combined a smart and experienced person can understand what decisions are most important on an hourly, daily, monthly, and yearly basis to help create value which can lead to more revenues, growth, value, profitability and success.

Career-wise I came to realize that these factors we’re critical both in business development (i.e. sales, marketing, communications, etc.) as well as jobs and professional opportunities.

Those who live by and understand how to prioritize can find greater success and longevity in their work with a better chance to achieve their goals and objectives.

Those who do not take the time to understand what is happening around them are often cast aside and destined to pursue new activities that meet these criteria.

While we all have our own way to prioritize and make better decisions I wonder what factors impact your job, career, organization, and industry which can lead to greater success …or unfortunately failure?

Some say that time is often the greatest teacher but in today’s fast moving marketplace we often don’t have the luxury of time (or experience or knowledge) to figure out all of these points, so I challenge you to make it a regular part of your regiment to look at the factors around you…step back…and consider…

…what are the priorities worth prioritizing?