SAP Champion Spotlight Interview: Angela Wheeler


The SAP Champions Spotlight Interview Series highlights key strategic topics, such as emerging technologies, learning, and other topics, and provides insights from SAP Champions and SAP leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, process, and technology.

As organizations face The Great Resignation, reinventing employee recruiting and onboarding is essential. Quality companies realize that people are their greatest resource.

Based on the remote nature of the workplace, it makes it harder for employees to build the initial connection to the company. Given the investment, losing an existing employee or new candidate can be devastating.

Now is a critical time for employers to evolve how they source and retain talent. Improving the personal touch, building relationships, connecting to the company’s culture, and listening are important. First impressions matter!

Angela Wheeler, SAP Champion, SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting & Onboarding Consultant at Discovery Consulting, and Reiki practitioner, has partnered with peers, experts, and customers to enable digital HCM solutions for years. Her experience with active listening, and helping organizations put ideas and words into action, has set high standards in helping optimize the employee experience.

It is always a pleasure to catch-up with Angela virtually from her home in Greater Melbourne, Australia!

Stacey Fish (SF): How are you today? Great to catch-up! Throughout your career journey you have enjoyed the people side of business by way of HCM (Human Capital Management), which led you to your current role as an SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting & Onboarding Consultant at Discovery Consulting. From your university days to today, what triggered your interest to put employee experiences at the heart of your professional interests?

Angela Wheeler (AW): Nice to connect with you Stacey! All’s well!
I came into the SAP world as an “experienced hire.” I had already been working for many years in various roles, not HCM related. One of my work tasks was to liaise with a third-party software provider, and I found that to be such a challenging experience by way of getting results and quality customer service.

Early in my career, I heard about an opportunity to join PwC, who were starting a support service center for their SAP clients, and I thought “I could do that so much better than I’ve been experiencing!” From that point on I had many work experiences where HR, Talent Management, Recruiting, Learning, Performance Management, and Onboarding were a major part of my activities.

So, it wasn’t an HCM focus for me initially, more of a customer service emphasis and a desire to be helping others. I worked in both SAP HR/Payroll and Finance support, and over time HCM was just the clear winner; it felt like there was more creativity and variation in these processes of enabling employees to perform at their best at work.

SF: You share your own experiences and help others with “Reiki” which centers around energy healing techniques that promote relaxation and reduces stress and anxiety. You have reflected on the importance of listening to “inner guidance and trusting THAT inner voice, rather than getting stuck in the constant, exhausting chatter of one’s mind.” From a professional and life experience standpoint, what triggered you to “wake-up” to this interesting approach?

AW: Reiki and SAP don’t immediately go together in most people’s minds! I was experiencing health issues and burnout at the time, that’s when I became interested in meditation and that lead to Reiki

As a very practical person and experiential learner, I wasn’t convinced straight away, but I was pretty blown away by how much these types of modalities (e.g., behavior, expressions, way of life) helped me get back on an even keel and feel good about myself.

I realized a lot of my burnout was related to how much anxiety I carried about and how constantly noisy my brain could be.

A key message that meditation and Reiki have taught me is to be in the moment and give it your full attention, which is very useful in my job!

Active listening is a very underrated skill in my opinion.

SF: How did you become an SAP Champion? In this role, how do you engage with Community members?

AW: Over the past 3 years, I’ve been most active in the SAP SuccessFactors Partner Delivery Community (PDC), particularly around Onboarding. When the new product was released, there were a lot of unknowns, and we were all finding our way to achieve the best outcomes. So, asking and responding to questions in the PDC really helped me, and hopefully I was able to help others!

I like problem-solving and I’m always keen to know what’s changing with the product, so reading and writing blogs, attending webinars/office hours sessions, and the Partner and Customer Communities; that’s where you’ll find me when I need a break from configuring and meetings!

It’s a little harder to engage with the broader community from this Australian time zone, so I’d like to see what we can get happening in the APJ region and look forward to getting to know the local SAP Champions better.

SF: From your experience, what are the lessons learned from onboarding new employees? How can a quality approach help with retention and job satisfaction? What are the best ways to keep it simple?

AW: What I’ve seen is that for businesses, onboarding is about gathering data. Yet, for the new hire, it’s opening the door to your organization and welcoming them in. I like to see clients striking a balance of getting the key information upfront that they need to feed into their systems (hello payroll!), but also not overwhelming incoming team members with administrative tasks and dozens of repetitive emails before they’ve even started their new role.

I believe recruiting and onboarding processes will need to become much more agile and interactive to engage and retain people. It’s beneficial to show some personality and demonstrate the culture of your organization. Businesses will all say they care about their staff’s wellbeing, but how are they delivering?

With onboarding, think about not just the pre-day 1 data needs, but also the first day, week, month, 3 months – put yourself in the shoes of the new hire and give them a clear roadmap to work with which will optimize the employee experience.

SF: The “Great Resignation” which is taking roots around the world creates new challenges for organizations’ leaders responsible for recruiting and onboarding. What are a few examples of steps that can be taken to help rise up and reverse this trend?

AW: I see this trend as a great opportunity for those employers who focus on flexibility and can clearly communicate their value proposition to candidates.

More than just communicating “this is our culture,” which has always been necessary, it is important to provide clear policies and procedures when it comes to hybrid working opportunities, and a structure to support employees in a virtual environment.

Employers need to really consider their attitudes and position on these points, and whether the old 9-5 p.m. deskbound, 5-days-a-week is still a necessity for their business roles. Employees have proven over the past two years that productivity and employee satisfaction can in fact be higher, with more of a life balance which represents a BIG driver to candidates when looking for new roles.

Once employers have attracted and signed candidates, the onboarding processes also needs to be updated to account for less face-to-face time, and how to overcome challenges such as providing hardware, delivery of training and inductions, introducing and welcoming new hires.

SF: As you know, students and recent graduates who want to get a top quality HRIS (Human Resources Information Systems) job sometimes feel the pressure of finding one or find themselves settling for a less than optimal position. What suggestions do you share with job seekers to help them get traction with great organizations, and as a result, develop an exciting career?

AW: I think there are many ways to get to the same end point. I have worked with consultants who have come from all kinds of different backgrounds to get into SAP and SAP SuccessFactors consulting. There’s no one “right way” to do it. So, keep an open mind to opportunities that may not seem like the obvious progression.

This might mean getting industry experience on the client-side, or internships for a taste of different roles/products, perhaps volunteering your HR/tech skills to a not-for-profit.

These are all things that would stand out to me on a CV/resume when I’m interviewing.

Also, research the organizations and industries you are most interested in, and get an understanding of the market they are operating in. It’s really quite obvious to employers when an interviewee has no idea about the business they have applied to!

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