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Laura studied German and Commerce in NUIG and is based in SAP's Galway office. Her role is to support the partners using the SAP software which means she uses German on a day to day basis in work.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
The first one was definitely my subject choices for the Leaving Cert, mainly Business Studies and German. I always had an interest in business, but I was quite indecisive as to what path I wanted to take after school. With Business, I knew there were many different routes that I could go down. Choosing German as my language was an easy decision for me. My teacher at the time was very passionate about the language and had a good relationship with the secondary school in our twinning town in Germany. Knowing that I got the chance to do an exchange with that school was enough of a decider for me! It was only after visiting the country that I knew I wanted to further study the language and find a career path with an opportunity to use it.
I then went on to study International Commerce & German in NUIG. During my time in college, I lived and studied in Gottingen for one year. I learned so much about the German culture and only grew to love the language more. Returning to final year in Galway, it was clear to see that there was a huge demand for languages in various sectors of work, with so many international companies setting up in Ireland.
At Grad fairs, companies were crying out for languages, no matter what degree you had. This really boosted my confidence in applying for jobs. In between finishing final year and my current role, I did a 6-month internship in Coca-Cola. This stood to me when applying for my role in SAP, as it gave me the chance to learn all the little things that I would never have thought of. When my time was coming to an end in Coca-Cola, I uploaded my CV to a career site called Monster.ie and within a few days, I got a call from a recruiter at SAP, where I'm currently working.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
How did you go about getting your current job?
I wasn't all too sure what area of business I wanted to go into, but I knew I wanted to use my language. SAP would have always been at the careers fairs, but I never took any interest as I didn't have any background in IT. However, after uploading my CV to Monster.ie and a couple of phone calls with the recruiter from the company, I figured out that there were many different options for those without IT experience. I went for the interview and was won over by the place. Interviews were never a strong point for me, so I was over the moon to get the call for the second round. I put a lot of work into preparing and it paid off in the end.
Describe a typical day?
The department I work in is called Partner Service Delivery. We are there to support the SAP partners through their lifecycle with as a SAP PartnerEdge Partner, through various difference services, from the recruitment of partners to registering their deals and providing general helpline support where and when it's needed. Our partners are based all over the world, so we have 6 different office locations globally to support them, with Galway being the main one. As you can imagine, there's a lot of diversity between the different regions we support. With this, it is important for our team to understand the cultural differences of each. You learn so much every day about the different partners and how their needs may vary from another.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Up until December of last year, I was a partner support representative. This meant working on the partner helpline (via phone / email / live chat) and supporting the partners with any questions or issues they had. I was also heavily involved in Deal Registration, where partners could submit applications to resell SAP software to customers. My role here was to review these applications and ensure they were compliant with the regulations and met all criteria needed. Since then, I have moved on to a Team Lead role, working alongside the manager of the overall team. This involves a lot of planning, meetings, 1 to 1 sessions with team members, recruitment and so on.
What are the main challenges?
A huge challenge for me at the start was speaking German to native Germans on the phone. It was quite daunting at the start, but you get used to it after a while. Another challenge of mine was presenting in team meetings. Again, it's one of those things that become second nature to you the more you do. You need to remember that everyone is in the same boat when doing these things!
What I really like about my job is that it's very social. I did not expect that coming into an office environment. There's a very friendly atmosphere in here, which makes any stressful day a lot easier. We also do a lot of events and meet ups outside of work too, which is great for team building. Another thing I must include is the free tea, coffee and on-site lunches. It saves so much time in the mornings!
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Outside of the mandatory subjects, I studied Business, Economics, Agri Science and German. They were 100% great help in getting where I am today. Agri Science was quite a random choice, but I thought it was but an interesting one, and I loved it. If was to go back and take the Leaving Cert again I would probably choose all the same subjects!
What is your education to date?
I went to Secondary School in Davitt College, Castlebar, where I completed my Leaving Cert in 2011. That September, I started my Bachelor of Commerce with German degree in NUI Galway. This was a 4-year course and I spent my 3rd year in Germany as part of the Erasmus programme. I didn't go on to do a masters, as I was unsure what career path I wanted to take. I have since sussed that one out!
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
We had a module in our final year of college, called ICE (Innovation, Creativity & Enterprise). If you have ever watched Dragon's Den, this module is exactly what that is, minus being on tele in front of Gavin Duffy and co.! We had to come up with a unique product/service, competing against other groups in the course and at the end of the module the best idea won.
This involved a lot of research and advice from mentors and entrepreneurs. We had to present our idea to a panel each week and outline why our idea was best. It was a great learning experience and I'd do it all over again if I could. It really boosted my confidence in presenting and opened my eyes to the possibilities there are for innovative graduates.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
We run a programme here called Girlsmart4tech. It involves regular meetings/Skype calls with other colleagues in SAP Galway, to organize several days in the year for primary school girls to come into SAP and take part in various activities throughout the day. The aim of the program is to give young females a glimpse of the 'techy' world, opening their eyes to the possibilities and changing up that IT/Software professional stereotype. It's so rewarding and every event to date has been a great success.
I was also involved in attending career sessions and job fairs, representing SAP and advising students on how to apply for roles within the company. The biggest achievement for me to date has to be my promotion to my current role as a Team Lead. It's been a wonderful experience and I couldn't ask for a better team to work for.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
What is your dream job?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Yes, absolutely. I think that one of the most important things to have is a work/life balance. We're on flexi-time, which means I can work an extra hour during the week to leave an hour or two early on a Friday. It's a very social place to work, with many internal and external events happening throughout the year.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
I'm a strong believer in Less is more. Keep your CV as minimal as possible - highlight your skills and interests without going into too much details. This will draw in the attention of a recruiter to find out more about you. Apply for many roles, even if some of them aren't exactly what you're looking for. This is so helpful in prepping for that interview that you really want to do well in.
I also think it's helpful doing mock interviews with your friends or colleagues, as they can give you all the feedback you need. Another important thing is to know a bit about the company, it'll show that you're keen and that you've done your prep work. Never ever learn off interview answers, they can be spotted a mile away and it only increases your nerves. Be yourself and that's all any interviewer will look for.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Most definitely. Itís important to upskill yourself at every opportunity, even if youíre happy with your current role. It can be a challenge at times, as day-to-day work can get in the way and you can end up putting training to the bottom of the priority list. For this, I set reminders in my calendar do something small every week to up-skill myself.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?