Writing Code & Learning a new language … how to become comfortable with the uncomfortable | Sergio Guerrero, SAP Champion


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

In some ways, learning to program is similar to learning a new language.

Programming requires learning new terms, rules, symbols, and processes which must be organized correctly to develop applications and user interfaces, that also interact with the system software (operating systems), computer hardware, infrastructure, databases, and related technology. The code must be clear enough that it works properly, and that other programmers can read and understand it.

Spoken languages are constantly evolving with new terminology, phrases, and slang. It’s important to start small, simplify, and overcome the fear of making mistakes. With time, one can become confident with interactions and conversations. The key is to develop a learning process and mindset.

For example, whether learning Spanish to English (or vice versa), or SAP HANA, SAPUI5, SAP Fiori, Data Analytics, and other cloud technologies, the learning continues forever. It is impossible to know it all.

For Sergio Guerrero, SAP Champion, technology entrepreneur, author, owner of Shockwave Consulting, and passionate developer and architect, he learned that once you learn one language, the next language becomes easier and easier.

With languages, he experienced first-hand how to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. And as a result, he has developed an approach of going from novice to mastery and then sharing it with others along the way.

It was inspiring to catch-up with Sergio from his home office in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.

Stacey Fish (SF): Hi Sergio! As a technology entrepreneur, you have worked with top market leading organizations addressing Aerospace & Defense, Food Processing, and Building Products Manufacturing, and now you’re the owner of Shockwave Consulting. Going back to your days at the University of Texas at Dallas, what inspired you to get into Computer Sciences as a career and take this path?

Sergio Guerrero (SG): The main reason I chose Computer Sciences (CS) is because I was impressed by software. I could write a program, put it on the web and many people could access it. The more I learned about software and its capabilities, the more I wanted to become a Software Architect and one day possibly be able to create a system end-to-end (database, API, web).

SF: Growing up in Linares, Nuevo León, Mexico you had an opportunity to compare learning about computer programming as a motivation to learn other languages (e.g., from Spanish to English). How did this realization help you build confidence to communicate with people from various cultures?

SG: Learning a new language as a teenager was intimidating; similarly, writing the first few lines of code in my college days was intimidating.

Being able to try new things without worrying that I might make a mistake, or who would make fun of me for not having the correct pronunciation on a word helped me build character. My kids and my wife are pretty quick at correcting me when I mis-pronounce a word LOL.

Building software for 15+ years, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with people around the world and it’s very cool to relate to others no matter our origin or background.

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

SG: I continuously participate in the SAP Community by way of writing blogs in English and Spanish, participating in the Q&A section, attending and speaking at Tech Ed (previously), and a few SAP Inside Tracks in LATAM. I like being involved and meeting other people with similar interests.

SF: As the author of the acclaimed book, Custom Fiori Applications in SAP HANA, how did you run across and master the 5 design principles that all SAP Fiori applications are built upon?

SG: I’ve been working in SAP HANA since 2013. When SAP Fiori came out, I was attracted by building responsive applications using the same code for various devices. I thought it was an excellent idea that I could focus on business rules rather than structuring my application with the goal of making it look and feel similar from one app to another.

I have been working on Fiori projects for a few years and it’s very neat to see the same design principles hold true for many years at the enterprise level. Fiori has been able to hold its own against other popular frameworks.

SF: You recently played a leadership role with an SAP Insider Event in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. What got you interested to be a contributor with peers in the community? What suggestions do you have for others who want to help organize these types of events and share their expertise?

SG: I participated in similar events in Colombia and Mexico, however, none in the US. During an SAP Champions meeting, I asked why, and the answer was “no one ever asked”, so I decided to take it on!

I know there are a lot of people who work in SAP and with SAP technologies. I wanted to bring SAP knowledge and comradery around this area. I hope to inspire others to organize similar events. I would be willing to help others in the US if they want to do this, but don’t know where to start. It was easy and I had huge support from SAP.

SF: You have had hands on work experiences with top organizations such as Lockheed Martin, Dell, and Hitachi. What’s your advice for students and recent graduates who want to get their foot in the door to secure a high-quality job?

SG: My advice to students is to dream big and work hard. If you want to work in a big-name company, go for it. If you get it, awesome! If you don’t get in…prepare and try again. There is no shame in trying and building your resume.

If you enjoy what you do, you will do great and there won’t be limits. I feel fortunate to have had experience in these big-name companies as well as in small businesses.

Every one of them will give you some new experience and don’t forget to help others along the way.

Feel free to leave a comment below and check out Sergio Guerrero SAP Community Profile!