As ASUG kicks off Volunteer Appreciation Week, let’s reflect on the remarkable journeys of our volunteers. Each year, their dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to our communities and company values inspires us all. This week, we’re coming together to celebrate their invaluable contributions and give our volunteers the spotlight they deserve.

To learn more about our ASUG Volunteers' experiences, we recently interviewed five members of our ASUG community to understand their unique stories better. Interested in becoming an ASUG Volunteer? Find a chapter near you to inquire about volunteer opportunities!

We spoke with:

  • Michael Giessner: Distinguished Architect for Core ERP at Nike & Community Lead for the ASUG SAP S/4HANA (ERP) Community Alliance
  • Zachary Mikan: Operations – Environmental Health & Safety at 3E & Community Co-Lead for the ASUG Sustainability Community Alliance
  • Tammy Powlas: Community Lead for the ASUG SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) Community Alliance and Chapter Chair for the ASUG Mid-Atlantic Chapter
  • Julia Navarre: IT Lead at Ownes Corning and Chapter Chair for the ASUG Ohio Chapter
  • Dawn Solomon: IT – Applications at Haworth, Inc. & Chapter Chair for the ASUG Michigan Chapter.

Their responses provide a deeper understanding of our volunteers' diverse paths while underscoring ASUG’s commitment to empowering our volunteers to thrive in their roles and leave a lasting impact on the ASUG community.

These interviews, conducted over email, have been edited and condensed.

ASUG: How long have you been an ASUG Volunteer?

Giessner: I have been an ASUG volunteer for over 10 years.

Mikan: It's been about 4-5 years now!

Powlas: Since 2006 or 2007.

Navarre: I joined ASUG as a volunteer in 2017. If I am doing my math correctly, this is my eighth year serving.

Solomon: I joined ASUG as a Michigan Chapter Program Chair back in 2012, so I’m approaching my twelfth year with ASUG.

ASUG: What has been your most recent SAP technology transformation project?

Giessner: At Nike, we are just finishing our SAP S/4HANA for fashion and vertical business implementation in the U.S.

Mikan: I am continuously working to keep 3E Optimize for SAP up to date with the latest regulatory obligations globally, for our customers that use this product in their SAP R/3 systems. 3E is also co-developing new functionality for SAP S/4HANA for Product Compliance.

Powlas: We recently implemented SAP Service Cloud.

Navarre: I am updating a bolt-on tool for our system.

Solomon: One of the current SAP projects I’m working on involves upgrading our current SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) system to SAP S/4HANA.  We have been on the SAP HANA database for several years but are now looking at upgrading to the 2023 version of S/4HANA using a brownfield approach.  We just finished bringing all our plants onto SAP and have now finally decommissioned our legacy systems of many years.  We are jumping in with both feet to see how we can improve our current processes and understand what SAP S/4HANA offers.

ASUG: What brought you into the SAP ecosystem? Do you have any advice for others navigating the SAP ecosystem?

Giessner: I have been working on SAP ERP solutions since 1989. I encountered SAP while I was still at university in Mannheim, Germany and continued my path from there with becoming an SAP developer, development lead and eventually architect.

Mikan: I’ve spent my entire career using SAP. I started in product stewardship, authoring safety data sheets (SDSs) in the SAP ecosystem, and now I work more upstream with 3E’s content, which services most customers using SAP for Product Compliance. For those starting out in SAP, specifically in the product stewardship sphere, I highly suggest learning as much as you can about the content you are purchasing to fill your SAP database. Read documentation, learn the regulations that you are responsible for, and push to enhance current processes.

Powlas: I was at a company implementing SAP between 1996 and 1997. In terms of starting out, I recommend the free learning at and contributing to the SAP community at

Navarre: At one time, a company I was working for deployed SAP.  Prior to deploying, we were in two systems: one for inventory, one for accounting. I caught the SAP project bug, made the transition to a job that focused on SAP deployments, and never looked back. I advise newcomers to listen and learn. SAP is a very expansive tool with lots of amazing people around it that will help you.  Embrace every opportunity for jobs or tasks. They will help shape you. You have no idea how a ‘yes’ can change your life forever.

Solomon: I always had an interest in ERP systems, but when I started learning about SAP, my interest peaked.  There was so much we could do via configuration of the system to allow us to configure it for our business needs.  Once we figured out that we needed a system with flexibility, the decision was made to go with SAP.  We embarked on our first SAP adventure implementing SAP ECC 6.0 back in 2006. 

The biggest advice I would give anybody implementing any new system is to review your current business processes and make sure you are performing them at their peak before trying to get the system to perform at its peak.  Essentially, don’t build what you always had, look at what you have, and make sure you are not creating complexity where it is not needed.  Investigate to make sure SAP meets your needs and to identify true gaps in the business. 

ASUG: What are your current professional goals, and how does ASUG help support those professional goals? 

Giessner: It’s my goal to serve in a leadership role for the larger SAP S/4HANA community, and ASUG provides a great platform to do so in a post-pandemic environment where a lot of in-person events have been replaced by virtual meetings.

Mikan: One of my long-term goals is to create a community for product stewards within the SAP space. On their own, many companies use very flexible technology, which ultimately leads to unnecessary customization, manual processes, and partial utilization of their SAP systems. Creating a community for everyone to share best practices, problems, solutions and feedback to SAP and content providers is something that ASUG is in a unique position to achieve.

Powlas: My current professional goals are to always keep learning and to pay it forward in the twilight of my career. ASUG encourages that through education, networking at ASUG Chapter events, and influencing SAP.

Navarre: The connections that I have made through ASUG are ones I will look back on at the end of my career and realize these individuals are still very involved in my life.

Solomon: My current professional goals include learning more about what it means to be an enterprise business architect. I would like to stay at the forefront of technology and help contribute to keeping our systems up to date, ensuring we are getting the most value out of our current SAP system. My current professional goals are to learn more about how I can help keep us on the path to success by using what we have and figuring out what tools may help get us there successfully, as well as understanding what is coming to ensure we are ready for it. ASUG has helped me grow professionally as a leader and understand how to rely on a team of volunteers who are there for the same reasons I am. ASUG has helped me to feel good about what we do as we continue to expand with ASUG Campus Connect and ASUG Women Connect. I feel we need to ‘stay in the know,’ and ASUG helps me do this.

ASUG: What project are you proudest of and how did you contribute? 

Giessner: I am lucky to have the opportunity to work on two major ERP implementations at Nike. I was part of the first ERP implementation starting in 1999, and I am working on our current journey to SAP S/4HANA.

Mikan: I am equally proud of every quarterly release we provide for 3E Optimize for SAP. As the product owner, I plan the releases, coordinate with developers, define regulatory requirements, and test all developments. These releases allow customers to comply with the latest regulatory obligations and keep their companies in compliance.

Powlas: We acquired two new utilities at the same time and had to integrate them into our existing SAP system. Fortunately, through ASUG, I’d learned about SAP Data Services, and that was a lifesaver of a product for our migration efforts.

Navarre: When I look back at my career, one project that stands out is a project I led that deployed a journal entry approval strategy.  We reviewed all the document types that were posted in the system, removed direct-entry capabilities for journal entries, and wrote validation rules to ensure that entries posted used the appropriate document types and were reviewed.

Solomon: My proudest project is probably our European implementation, where we were upgrading from SAP ECC 4.6 but bringing them on to our SAP ECC 6.0 instance, so that we could support it moving forward from the finance perspective.  I enjoyed the travel required to go gather requirements as well as ensuring all the conversions and gaps were covered. I learned more on that project than most, and if I couldn’t get the answers, I was able to find them on the SAP Portal, using Knowledge Articles and various notes to assist with each country-specific item. I contributed any way I knew how as well as investigated if there were knowledge gaps we encountered.

ASUG: What advice would you give to an ASUG Member attending their first ASUG event?

Giessner: It’s always important to listen and learn from others, other companies come prepared to share their own experiences, problems, and lessons learned. The ASUG community can only thrive when ASUG members can bring their contributions to ASUG events.

Mikan: Find your tribe! There are so many different types of SAP users and finding people that do the same job or similar jobs will ultimately create more value for you in expanding your network.

Powlas: Be open to new experiences.  Don't be afraid of walking out on an event session early if it doesn't interest you.

Navarre: Chapter events are a great place to meet people that can be lifelong friends and people that can change your life.

Solomon: Don’t be shy!  Please feel free to talk to people that have already presented, both partners as well as other installation members.  I would also recommend talking to the ASUG leadership team to make sure you are not missing out on anything.

ASUG: What is your fondest ASUG memory, and why did it make an impact on you?

Giessner: Getting together with other volunteers and ASUG members at ASUG Annual Conference is always a highlight for me. I still remember when ASUG switched from the presentation format to open forum round table discussions with whiteboarding, and we reached a new level of collaboration and interaction during our face-to-face meetings.

Mikan: I enjoy our sustainability leadership calls. We are working to build a community, and while it's been difficult, we are making progress!

Powlas: At the 2010 ASUG Volunteer meeting, we were merging with GBN (Global BusinessObjects Network), and I was shadowing ASUG Volunteer Joyce Butler to learn how to be a Program Volunteer.  It was chaotic but everyone made it work. A few years ago, I visited the ASUG headquarters in Chicago.  It was nice to see everyone in the workspace, to meet and spend time with them.

Navarre: Last year, I had the opportunity to speak on an ASUG Women Connect panel. To this day, I do not feel qualified to have been asked or even considered for this honor.

Solomon: My fondest ASUG memory is difficult to articulate. I have been through a lot of great times with ASUG, I’ve grown my leadership skills and learned to network. I have enjoyed being part of ASUG Campus Connect with the SAP University Alliances, as I feel we can add value for the students and the businesses running SAP in attendance at our meetings. After 12 years with ASUG, I have many great memories. I have met many amazing people, other chapter leaders, and the ASUG HQ Leadership team! I’ve learned to appreciate my team, and I love sharing my experiences with others as well as listening to others sharing their experiences! I recommend ASUG to all of my colleagues, regardless of if they are business members or if they work in Global Information Services.

Our ASUG Volunteers recently gathered in Chicago for three days of networking, celebration, and planning for ASUG Communities events in the year ahead. Learn more about the 2024 ASUG Volunteer meeting here.

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