|The SAP Mentor Spotlight Interview Series highlights key strategic topics, such as emerging technologies, learning, and other topics, and provides insights from Mentors and SAP leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, process, and technology.|
Now is the time for climate action. Sustainability is a core business imperative.
There are many current and emerging opportunities to drive sustainability at scale by embedding operations, experiences, financial data, and insights into business processes.
As a result, organizations can systematically address reducing carbon emissions, zero waste, guided by holistic steering and reporting. The future is now to tackle today’s most complex environmental challenges.
Tamas Szirtes, Group Innovation Director at SOA PEOPLE and SAP Mentor, sees the need for climate change, as well as the importance of gaining insights, understanding the starting point, formulating change plans, and taking action.
When we connected with him, we wanted to learn more about his professional journey, insights on SAP Sustainability and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and how he has placed himself at a variety of intersection points to connect with the SAP Community to both share knowledge and learn.
Allie Trzaska (AT): From your time at Corvinus University of Budapest to today, what inspired you to pursue a career in Computer Engineering and Knowledge Management, which led to a variety of roles and your current job as the Group Innovation Director at SOA People?
Tamas Szirtes (TS): As a young boy, I was very interested in computers and programming, but it never crossed my mind to actually make a living from it. So, I went to school to study business administration. I was about to finish up when I got the opportunity to study computational engineering in Germany. This was my chance to combine my business studies with IT and get a masters in both. Being in Germany, the home of SAP, you can only imagine the number of people that gave me the same advice: “Business + IT = SAP.”
So, I entered the SAP world in 1998 which was the most logical thing to do. Since then, I have worked in 10+ countries, settled in the Netherlands, got married and had two daughters, worked for 100+ customers, completed a PhD simultaneously while working, failed a few startups 😉, got some professional recognitions, and I still love what I do in the SAP space today! Nowadays, I am mostly busy with SAP S/4HANA, SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), and RISE with SAP.
AT: Many IT and business professionals appreciate the importance of networking; you are clearly pro-active in sharing your insights, time, support, and expertise. What motivates you to go above and beyond with your contributions to the SAP Community, VNSG (Netherlands User Group), SAPinsider, and United VARs?
TS: I am a very strong believer in networking and knowledge sharing. Of course, there is no one thing that alone leads to success, but becoming more active in the SAP global community was an eye opener and huge booster for my career. Sharing knowledge in the community is the best way to learn, to meet peers, and learn from them. The most important things I gained from fellow colleagues and experts was not just about SAP, but how they think, how they share, and how they aim to grow daily. I look at VNSG, SAPinsider, United VARs, etc. as meeting points of this global community.
AT: How did you become involved in the SAP Mentor program? As an active SAP Community blogger, what motivates you to share your knowledge with others?
TS: When I was selected to become an SAP Mentor in 2014, it was a surprise, as I think it is for most Mentors. I love being a part of this program because I have the opportunity to exchange ideas and insights with SAP leaders and the community. By collaborating together with the other Mentors, we can influence product roadmaps and strategic choices at SAP which eventually brings benefits to all SAP customers and partners. Blogging is only part of it…I’ve had more- and less-active periods, but currently I am committed to being active about my new interest: Sustainability.
AT: In your blog post on COP26, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties and SAP, you mention that there are new opportunities to support companies both in a socially responsible way and in the circular economy. Are you seeing tangible examples in the marketplace of how SAP technology (e.g., SAP S/4HANA) can support climate impact to help organizations, operations, and products achieve responsible emissions and controls?
TS: I am very interested in this topic because the need for change is obvious, and I am happy to see that SAP is driving sustainability technology, resources, and solutions which will provide immense impact on the global economy. I see enormous business opportunities for the coming years and decades. SAP is heavily investing in this area; with the current portfolio, SAP solutions can help customers gain insight, understand the starting point, formulate change plans, and take action. SAP solutions help to make the change transparent, manageable in each business process, trace it, and eventually report on it. For many companies, it’s a journey which will need to be accelerated in the coming years.
AT: When you presented about Galler, an independent chocolate factory in Belgium who has undergone a transformation at all levels, you referenced that the conversion to SAP S/4HANA happened in 3 months. What was their major challenge and how did Artificial Intelligence help accelerate their business outcomes?
TS: The major challenge was to support Galler’s ambitious business transformation plans by moving them to SAP S/4HANA in a risk-minimized way. Galler decided to do a brownfield conversion and we could make it happen in 3 months based on MIGNOW, a tool which uses AI to do the conversion in a highly automated way. Galler saved time and resources by doing the conversion quickly and could immediately follow up with process improvements and introduction of new possibilities offered by S/4HANA.
AT: You have many accomplishments in education ranging from Economics and Business (Masters), Computer Engineering (Masters), and Knowledge Management (PhD). When you connect with students and recent graduates, what do you suggest to them to help direct their career journey to obtain jobs that fulfill their investments in education?
TS: I have the opportunity to meet many recent graduates through our Academy. I usually teach them about innovation in the SAP space, but always dedicate some time to describing the mindset which I think is needed to become a very good professional.
It’s about being curious, passionate, building a habit to learn and share, going the extra mile, and selecting a matching career strategy.