João Maia has been a SAP Consultant for 20 years. He has been working with Montash to help corporations get to grips with their SAP Material Management needs. He took time out of his busy schedule to speak to us from his current project in Mexico to shine a light on what it's like to be a SAP Consultant, and the opportunities it can offer.
What is a SAP MM consultant?
As you probably know, SAP software covers a wide spectrum of systems and part of a consultant's job is helping clients work out exactly what they need.
MM stands for Material Management, meaning that I have expertise in the SAP modules that handling logistics, purchasing and inventory data. These modules also include processes for suppliers and stock.
My job is to bring understanding of how the end-to-end procurement and sourcing processes work to my clients.
How did you get into SAP?
In 2001, I was back home in Brazil working for Fiat as a buyer. As part of that role, I was given the task to help bring a SAP process into the business because I had experience with it from a buyer perspective.
When the project was finished, the SAP consultant we used as part of Fiat's implementation said that I would be a good fit for a consultant role. So I spent a year training in SAP and in 2002 I made the transition from employee to consultant.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I love my job! I've been doing the same thing for 20 years, after all. The thing I love best about being a SAP consultant is that I get the opportunity to meet new people, see new countries and experience different cultures.
I'm unmarried and have no children, so if someone comes to me and says they have a job in China next, I'm free to just go. I'm always ready for any deployment! Being a SAP consultant gives me the chance to explore new places. I'm from Brazil and with the economy the way it is, there aren't many opportunities to get out there.
But in my role, I'm able to experience the world. I'm in Mexico at the moment and next I might be off to the United States or Canada. It's a life that's perfect for me.
What are the downsides of the job?
Working as a consultant can be intense and require a lot of work. That means I don't have as many opportunities to see my parents and my brother as I would like. They're back in Brazil and as much as I love the travel, I wish I could see them more often. I'm seeing them later in the year, though, and I'm looking forward to that.
What have you learnt during your time as a SAP consultant?
I've learned a lot about other cultures and even more about SAP. Although I'm a SAP MM consultant, you have to know everything about SAP to be a consultant. There are always new processes approaches to learn and keeping up to date with the latest developments means that in many ways I've become a global expert.
What skills are important in order to become a SAP consultant?
I got into SAP because my job as a buyer put me in contact with SAP systems. But SAP has a lot of modules that all cover different aspects of business. When I was a buyer, I was only working with one aspect of SAP. To be a good consultant you need to understand all of SAP.
You don't know what you don't know and SAP has so much to offer. Once you get an idea of how the SAP models fit together, you can find the one that works best for the things you're working on and go from there.
What advice would you Give to anyone who wants to become a SAP consultant?
Whenever I go home and talk to people about what I do, I'm often asked "How can I get into SAP?" or "Are there any positions available in the places you're working right now?" What I say to them is always the same thing: learn another language.
For people in Brazil, you need to learn English or Spanish. But because you're always travelling as a SAP consultant, learning a new language is important wherever you're from.
5 Tips for a SAP Consultant
1. Learn a second language
2. Love travel!
3. Keep up to date with the latest innovations in SAP
4. Understand all aspects of SAP
5. Take the time to really understand what your clients need