SAP Plant Maintenance
For 11 years since my graduation from Singapore Polytechnic in Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, I have been in the Republic of Singapore Navy. Life as a mechanic was tough and working in the heat and greasy Engine Room was not what I want as a career.
6 years working onboard the Naval Vessels lead my physical body deteriorating with a wear and tear on a prolapse spinal disc. I had frequent backaches and couldn't excel further in my job.
Luckily, I was given the chance to be exposed to a ERP system SAP, when the Navy had an upgrade in their logistic system used for plant maintenance. What is SAP?
SAP is a German global software corporation that provides enterprise software applications and support to businesses of all sizes globally. This software is leading in the world of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
I was hesistant on the career change that would really affect my life. Am I ready to have a change in career path at age of 30? With just a mechanical diploma, will my experience be taken into consideration in the market outside? How can I ensure that I can maintain my current salary if I make the change in this career path?
As I had the prolapsed disc, I was reassigned to the maintenance base in the Navy and started learning on how this software works and how it makes planning & execution of maintenance so easy.
Within 3 years, I became a subject matter expert in SAP plant maintenance area within my base. I started to train new staff who do not know how to use the software to its potential. Sadly, I was told that I have to leave the Navy since I was unable to be deployed onboard ship due to the medical condition of a prolapse disc.
The choices given to me at that time is either to work in a shipyard and get a pay cut or to find ways to ensure myself a career switch to SAP. I learnt in the SAP job market, you would need 3 main things in your resume.
1) Project implementation Experience
2) Degree in Information Technology (IT)
3) SAP certification
The importance of these 3 things are also ranked in hierarchy. Having Project implemenation experience being the most important, followed by Degree in IT then SAP certification.
I did not have any implementation experience as I was in the Navy since I started working. I don't have a Degree in IT and I was not able to get one with the time frame given to me when I was told I am to leave the Navy.
I had the last option, to get a SAP certification which cost an insane amount of 15000SGD for just a month of training course and examination. Was it worth it? Will I able to pass with my experience as an user and going through the 1 month training course?
I enrolled for the certification course and to my surprise, I was able to pick up the knowledge fast and I was certified as a Plant Maintenance Consultant. With end user knowledge, I was able to link the configuration required in Plant Maintenance, from technical objects, notification and order set up, the different types of maintenance plans and etc.
From Hewlett Packard to Singapore Computer Systems to Vestas Wind Systems and current Singapore Power Pte Ltd. I was a Functional Consultant to Application Specialist to Support Consultant to Senior System Analyst.
I had a smooth transition in getting myself a job in the field of SAP and was able to increase my salary instead of a pay cut being a mechanic.
Advice for those who wishes to make a change:
1) You will require to have at least one of the item listed before you should attempt in a career change in SAP. 1) Project Experience 2) IT degree 3) SAP Certification
Many companies hardly recruit people without relevant experience or any of the above. If you are working for a company using SAP, or supporting the SAP system. You can get your company to write a letter for you to take the certification exams instead of going through the training course. But then you will need to find knowledge on the configuration required for the module you are taking.
2) Start with support jobs
This is the easiest way for you to gain knowledge. Put yourself in shoes of the users and understand their problems. Then you will have a clearer picture how to configure the system to the user's needs.
Technical skills such as ABAP or debugging is often a bonus if you have the knowledge. Techno functional consultant are very popular among employers.
4) Where do I get help if I need?
Google is the best way to help yourself. Even professionals consultants get stuck and finds the answer via googling.
There are many SAP websites that shares information, answer queries and shares experience in the different issues they encounter. When you join a firm supporting SAP or consulting, you will normally be given a SAP ID to be use to check on SAP Notes or to log issues to get help direct from SAP.
I am starting my own webby soon on sharing on knowledge on SAP issues and also jobs links.
Keep an open mind and embrace the change if you want to opt any change in career.