On Wednesday, Nov. 8, as the inaugural ASUG Tech Connect conference continued in New Orleans for a second day of sessions focused on technology and community, ASUG Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Dolezal took the keynote stage—following a lively performance by the Black Magic Drumline—to discuss the importance of year-round engagement for the ASUG membership, sharing her own observations on the power of collaboration and knowledge-sharing for the SAP community.
ASUG reaches members through not only industry conferences but also 38 regional ASUG Chapters that each host between three and six events per year, as well as industry- and topic-specific community alliances, virtual town halls, webcasts, and editorial offerings.
"I encourage you to engage and re-engage in your local community," said Dolezal, discussing these initiatives and inviting attendees to "design your own adventure" with ASUG while also giving other experienced SAP technologists at their companies an opportunity to level up their skillsets.
On stage, Dolezal reflected on a few memorable occasions this year, including an ASUG Carolinas Chapter meeting in October and Central Michigan University’s annual ERPsim event in March, during which she’s seen the ASUG community in action and come away inspired by ASUG members sharing lessons learned with SAP technology, lifting one another up in the process.
“Each time we do a survey of our members, you consistently tell us, ‘I want to talk to my peers,’ which is why experiences like this are so valuable,” Dolezal said, reflecting on ASUG Tech Connect. “And hopefully you’re doing plenty of that this week. The second thing we hear from the majority of you, each time we talk to you, is that you want to hear each other's stories. You want to hear how your peers achieve their successes, both personally and professionally.”
To that end, Dolezal invited to the stage Elaine Basa, Manager, Global Financial Services at Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Bob Bucy, IS Business Analyst, Supply Chain at bioMerieux, to discuss their journeys through the SAP ecosystem.
"Implementation Is Just the Start"
Walgreens first implemented SAP in 2016, and efforts to optimize change management and educate those at the company around use of the technology have been underway since. Basa joined Walgreens’ global finance services team last year to head up its Technology Advancement Program (TAP), designing an SAP skills-building curriculum to engage teams and people within the organization.
“Implementation is just the start,” reflected Basa. “There are many legacy systems to continuously [troubleshoot] and integrate, new partners to collaborate with, always revealing new needs. Implementation does that, no matter what we do to try to reduce the obstacles.”
It was in this spirit that Basa introduced TAP to provide team members with resources in a modular framework that would enhance their understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities within the company’s technology evolution. Looking back on this experience, Basa advised attendees to “engage with empathy” and get to know their audience.
“Approach making a connection with your teams with a desire to get to know them,” she said. “That means leading and acting with empathy for them and their work and their learning paths within your shared environment. That's important because they need to know they matter. This first stage is how you show up.”
"An Incredible Network"
Bucy, who serves as the ASUG Carolinas Chapter Chair, has been volunteering with ASUG since 2009 and shared with the audience his belief in “the power of relationships and community” as he has experienced both through ASUG.
In addition to his work with ASUG Chapters and the SAP University Alliances, Bucy provides part-time teaching support for ERP classes at North Carolina State University, which is also an ASUG University Alliance member school. That opportunity arose through a Chapter meeting on the NC State campus in 2008 at which Bucy met Dr. Marianna Bradford, a professor in the school’s Poole College of Management, who later invited Bucy to review portions of an ERP-centric textbook she was writing at the time.
“That was just one of many important relationships that I’ve developed over the years,” Bucy said. “Some of them have grown into personal friendships. It’s an incredible network of like-minded people, where we support each other, share ideas, and bounce questions off each other. Many individual relationships combine to create a community.”
Bucy also reflected on the recent ASUG Carolinas Chapter meeting, which introduced the ASUG Campus Connect program to the Carolinas region. “As a community, it's our desire to do all that we can to continue to provide support for students and educators at our member schools in the Carolinas,” he said.
Bucy encouraged attendees to seek out the ASUG community beyond conference sessions. “Whether it's through a regional chapter event, one of our community alliances, or an influence council here at ASUG Tech Connect,” he said, “there are all sorts of opportunities for you.”
"Relational, Not Transactional"
In dialogue with Dolezal, both Basa and Bucy shared insights on community-building and networking with the audience, reflecting on what advice they'd give other SAP professionals looking to learn, connect, and grow.
"What's most important is finding a mentor, or somebody who can serve as a sounding board," Basa told attendees. "Sometimes connecting isn't expanding your network, but finding that one person who can help lead you through change, through transformation, and who you can be frank with about your own process."
Bucy, meanwhile, encouraged attendees to make their approach to networking “relational, not transactional" and never to hesitate before sharing their stories with others.
"Everybody here has something that they can share, and somebody that needs to hear it," he said. "Look for those opportunities to share, and look for those opportunities to help other people without having any expectations in return. And I believe, if you do that, you'll find that networking is easy, because people are just going to want to meet you."
For more from ASUG Tech Connect, read our coverage of the day-one and day-three keynotes, an interview with Jabil's IT Director Cynthia Kendall on Jabil's S/4HANA migration, new columns by the Boring Enterprise Nerds and the SAP Customer Evolution team, an interview with enterprise architect Sylvain Garneau of Resolute Forest Products, and our pre-conference interview with SAP CTO Juergen Mueller.