The goal of this article is to show current students what the transition from student life to the job market looks like through the experiences of Yves Derks, an Industry Value Advisor. The article will also go into detail what qualities SAP, an organization providing business software for intelligent enterprises, is looking for within potential candidates.
Getting to know Yves Derks and the road towards an Industry Value Advisor within SAP
My name is Yves Derks, 36-years-old, Industry Value Advisor at SAP, and loving father of 3 children. After college, I learned the craft of professional painting and how to run a painting business (MBO). After that I graduated for my Commercial Economics bachelors in Den Bosch. At my graduation, I realized I could do more, so I decided to get my MSc in Strategic Management in Tilburg.
Next to my Masters, I got a job as marketing and management consultant, which gave me practical experiences building on my theoretical knowledge. At the time I was working at a small cultural organization, where I was allowed to contribute to process development and implementation projects. Here I applied a pragmatic approach in defining a business case as well as realizing the value in the daily business. My passion was born to pursue a career as business consultant.
I thought the gained education and practical experiences would already give me an edge over my fellow students. However, after a lengthy process of applying at various companies, I was very proud to get a job at Accenture. Within Accenture I learned to apply a professional and structured approach to run projects. During my tenure as Business Technology consultant, I worked at various consumer goods companies. This is the beauty of working for Accenture: your learning curve is very steep and you gain experience at various customers. One project in particular, which I am proud on, is where I became responsible for labeling in an R&D project. I had never really considered the R&D area as my expertise, apart from study literature. However, when you put your mind to it, you can become the expert and make an impact. This was also the first project where I got acquainted with SAP software. As I got more acquainted with the software, I started to appreciate the sophistication of the SAP software and the vast impact SAP makes as a company on our global economy and system.
After a while I started to wonder where my career was heading. Being an PLM expert was great, yet with my background in strategy I wanted to broaden my horizon. This made me move to SAP as a project manager. Being a project manager at SAP allows you to run projects in almost any industry and business domain. Hence, a great way to learn running businesses from R&D to sales, including finance, procurement and supply chain. Something all these projects had in common was that they start with a executive decision to invest in their company to become better at what they do. I really wanted to understand why companies want to achieve a certain goal. This contributed to me being able to fulfill customer and stakeholder expectations, leading the project to success.
Today, as IVA for public services & healthcare, I help customers achieve their ambitions by translating their strategy into capabilities they need in meeting objectives. Together with customer and partners we define journeys which not only fulfill the short-term but also long-term business needs. Together with consulting firms, we implement the solutions and make sure they deliver the expected value throughout the customer life cycle.
Message for current master’s students
Don’t be scared to apply and get rejected. It might take a while before you land your first consultancy or project management-related job at one of the major consultancy firms. The most important tip I can give you is to connect with these companies and make it personal. Not just send your CV or motivation letter but pick up the phone and show your interest. Try to build a connection with the recruiter by (personally) reaching out to them and selling your competencies. When I first started my career at Accenture, I had a pleasant discussion with the recruiter which set me apart from the crowd. This eventually helped me land my consulting position within Accenture. It also helped expand my network as I am still in contact with the recruiter.
The right candidate for SAP
Within SAP you will gain the opportunity to not just grow within the corporate ladder, but also find out what you really enjoy doing by gaining experience within different fields. As a consultant or project manager, you will be working with many internal- and external stakeholders, giving you the chance to find out more about what partners are doing. Additionally, SAP also encourages and gives opportunities to try out different roles and projects within the organization if you are willing to ask. A perfect example is when Christian Klein (CEO of SAP, at the time COO) came to the Netherlands to host a coffee corner. During the Q&A I asked a question that triggered a discussion. This made way for a new role in product management, where I got the opportunity to contribute to SAP core products that will help customers run better projects.
SAP is investing in young professionals via a growing internship program in various parts of the (NL) organization. This gives you a great opportunity to build professional skills and either apply of a job at SAP or at a partner in our ecosystem. When you are interested, feel free to look at www.sap.com/about/careers for your chances to kickstart your career at a rapidly growing, ambitious company!