From working student to consultant - Marc's story certainly has many inspiring aspects. How did he experience his time as a working student? In which projects can he prove himself? What happens in a "Hack to Solution" workshop? And what is the importance of an open minded learning culture in professional growth? I spoke to Marc about this.
Jochen: Marc, it's great that you've taken the time to tell me about your exciting professional journey at avantum. Can you remember how you became aware of avantum (editor's note: part of the All for One Group) and what made you decide to apply as a working student with us?
Marc: I first became aware of avantum during my studies. In a lecture on controlling, the CEO at the time introduced the company. The topic of controlling and digitalisation aroused my interest, as I had always been interested in digitalisation, business administration and controlling in particular. The presentation of the company in this lecture offered an exciting insight that made me curious. In addition, I already knew a fellow student who worked at avantum. He had nothing but positive things to say about the company and the working atmosphere. This exchange gave me the final push to apply as a working student.
Marc, Business Analytics Consultant
ONBOARDING AT EYE LEVEL
Jochen: How did you actually perceive the application process?
Marc: It was thoroughly pleasant. After I had already been in direct contact with an employee in advance, the next step was to send my application documents by e-mail to the responsible contact person in HR. This meant that the process was not completely anonymous. I received feedback in connection with an invitation to a personal interview very promptly. I then had my first interview directly with a manager from the SAP department.
I found the interview to be pleasant and at eye level, which is not a given in this day and age.
I found it remarkable that they were very interested in my personality, my personal interests and my future career plans. The company was also presented in detail and in a variety of facets, so that I had the impression that I was able to get a realistic overview of the tasks and direction. I had the interview on a Thursday and was accepted on Monday.
THE TIME AS A WORKING STUDENT
Jochen: That seems to have been a smooth start. What skills and knowledge that you acquired during your time as a working student with us have particularly helped you to advance your professional development?
Marc: As a working student, I had the freedom to work in different departments and learn continuously. This flexibility allowed me to get involved in various projects and learn from experienced colleagues. This versatility was enormously helpful in quickly finding out in which professional direction I wanted to develop. In the end, I decided to specialise in SAP and was able to further develop my skills through targeted training. This combination of freedom and specialisation helped me to find my bearings quickly.
Jochen: Since your promotion from working student to Assistant Consultant and then Consultant, your role has changed. What additional responsibilities have you taken on since then?
Marc: I became even more involved in projects. I worked on topics on a daily basis and was no longer only involved on certain days like a working student. As a result, my involvement in meetings and coordination became more extensive and I was able to better understand projects not only technically, but also organisationally.
Jochen: In terms of your career development, was there any support, such as mentoring programmes or training, that helped you to develop your skills?
OPEN minded LEARNING CULTURE AND STEEP LEARNING CURVE
Marc: In addition to courses and training, there was no formal mentoring programme, but I always received support from superiors and colleagues.
The intensive dialogue and support during the day-to-day running of the project enabled me to develop quickly, both technically and procedurally.
I particularly noticed this during my first real project with the implementation of integrated financial planning for a major customer. My colleague Alex gave me a lot of support and encouragement at all times during the project. Avantum generally has an open learning culture. I can approach colleagues at any time and get help when I encounter problems.
Jochen: What long-term goals are you actually pursuing?
Marc: I definitely want to develop further in the area of SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC). This topic fascinates me because it requires intensive interaction with the customer and close collaboration with the specialist departments. I find this combination of the necessary business know-how on the one hand and technical expertise on the other challenging and appealing. In my view, SAC is a powerful tool with a promising future in the field of corporate management. In the longer term, I see my development moving towards a management role, including corresponding project and personnel responsibility.
Jochen: Do you have any tips or advice for future or current colleagues who want to follow a similar career path to you and develop in a similar way?
Marc: Among other things, I think it's important not to be afraid to actively approach colleagues. This has helped me to progress faster and understand technology better. Of course, it's important to deal with topics yourself first, but anyone who wants to can definitely benefit from the open learning culture at avantum and the group in general. Coffee dates with colleagues from different areas, whether live or remote, can also be very enriching and should be considered by everyone at least once.
CUSTOMER BUSINESS VS. INTERNAL PROJECTS
Jochen: You also get involved in internal projects. Is there a particular project that you particularly enjoy and in which you have gained valuable experience?
Marc: Yes, the monthly news call and the opportunity to be involved in it was and is a highlight for me. I really enjoy engaging in constructive dialogue with colleagues and even the management and addressing both current company topics and critical internal issues. This collaboration is challenging, fun and allows me to get to know the company in an additional way - away from the day-to-day life of a consultant.
Jochen: What are the benefits for you of volunteering for internal projects, even though it's not compulsory?
Marc: I can look at the company and its processes from different perspectives, expand my knowledge in different areas and even provide valuable input from time to time. Yes, it's not compulsory, but for me it opens up the opportunity to think outside the box and position myself more broadly.
Jochen: Sounds exciting all in all, but also very time-consuming. How do you reconcile your day-to-day project work and the internal projects?
Marc: To be honest, it's not always easy, as the work for the customer always takes priority, of course. Sometimes I reserve fixed times during the week to work on internal projects, even if it's only for an hour or two. That helps me stay focussed. From time to time I also like to work longer if I'm particularly interested in a project, but that's voluntary and not due to the expectations of others. I generally try to use at least four days a week for billable work and keep Fridays free for internal projects. That works, but of course not always.
THAT'S "HACK TO SOLUTION"
Jochen: You held a very successful workshop called "Hack to Solution". What is behind it?
Marc: The workshop was organised by SAP. SAP customers brought along a specific problem and together we, the customer and I, tried to develop a suitable solution to this problem. We started by understanding the problem from an organisational point of view and deriving specific requirements, both organisational and technical. We then analysed how we could translate these requirements into a technical solution. In my specific case, the aim was to develop a dashboard. This allowed the customer to view orders digitally depending on their processing status and thus had a valid data basis for a large number of organisational decisions. We checked what data was available in the company and whether we could use it for the desired information. Together with the customer, I developed a technical solution to meet their requirements. The workshop enabled the customer and I to work together on their problem, from identifying the problem to solving it.
Jochen: How did the exchange of knowledge and helpfulness within the workshop help to achieve the desired results?
Marc: The constructive dialogue with the customer was crucial. We had to communicate clearly what seemed feasible and what didn't. I also sensitised the customer to the technical challenges. Once again, the open learning culture at avantum played a key role for me at this point. As a junior, I didn't always have all the answers, but I could approach colleagues at any time if I needed support. It was immensely important for me to be able to talk openly about challenges and also ask for help.
Jochen: I see. Are there any other insights or experiences you gained in the workshop?
Marc: For example, one customer wanted to use AI to make predictions about whether and to what extent orders would materialise, depending on external influencing factors such as the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy. Such predictions often cannot be reliably realised with current technologies, as they depend on too many unpredictable factors.
There is a lot of talk about the possibilities of artificial intelligence. However, the technologies in their current form are often not yet capable of actually fulfilling these great expectations.
This became particularly clear in the workshop. It was important to show customers realistic possibilities without discouraging them. This required clear and understandable communication about what is technically possible and what is not.
Jochen: Thank you very much, Marc, for the exciting insights. I wish you continued success in your career at avantum and beyond.
Marc: Thank you, Jochen.
Get connected WITH MARC
Do you have questions for Marc or want to expand your business network? Then simply connect with him on LinkedIn ;-)
DISCOVER OUR JOB OFFERS
Would you like to get started as a consultant in the field of business analytics and are you keen to drive forward the digital transformation of our customers and implement exciting IT projects? Then take a look at our current job offers at avantum.
Nov 13, 2023 7:00:00 AM