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Chance of working in security after a two-year absence

I have been an SAP professional since 1994, when I was trained in ABAP and General Ledger applications for a major U.S. Airline conversion project. Since that time I have continued using my ABAP skills, but have turned more attention to the technical security aspects of SAP, working in a Systems Security department since 1997. I specialized in writing security add-on ABAPs and managing security requirements for ERP projects.

I have been an SAP professional since 1994, when I was trained in ABAP and General Ledger applications for a major U.S. Airline conversion project. Since that time I have continued using my ABAP skills, but have turned more attention to the technical security aspects of SAP, working in a Systems Security department since 1997. I specialized in writing security add-on ABAPs and managing security requirements for ERP projects.

I think this sounds like a mouth-watering opportunity for some recruiters, but I do have 2 problems. Probably most...

importantly, I was forced to resign my 18-year airline career in the spring of 2003, due to family problems. Next, my family is pretty much rooted in a small market (comparitively speaking) in Tulsa, OK.

My question is this: Considering my 2 year absence from the security and development arena and considering that I am pretty much stuck in Oklahoma, do I still have career possibilities in SAP/Security? The latest version that I worked on was 4.6C, and I am certified in IT security work as a CISSP.

I wanted to make sure to answer your question for two reasons: first, you are from my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Hello Tulsa! Second, you were honest about the family issues that have held you back a bit from focusing on your SAP career. This kind of thing is more common than people realize, and it can be a challenge to get back on track.

SAP is not very forgiving in terms of taking time off of projects; and for that matter, in any IT career, it can be very hard to get back on track even if the reasons for your time off are totally understandable and legitimate. You face an additional obstacle, which is that you seem to be restricted in your options to the local market in Tulsa. Since you can count the number of SAP installs in Tulsa on one hand, it will be pretty easy for you to find out the answer to your own question: just apply to all the companies implementing SAP locally and see what happens. Based on the response level you receive, you'll get a very good idea of whether or not SAP is still a viable career path for you locally.

You can expect that the companies you apply to will have access to folks who have more current project experience than you do. But you have an advantage also: you are based locally, which means no relocation or travel expenses. So that's your advantage, and it's enough to give it a shot and see what happens. If you can't find a new position, then your crossroads will be clear: move to another area to pursue SAP, or transition into a different career path. I suspect you would choose the latter. It may be that you find yourself working with smaller companies and using your ERP security skills in different kinds of ERP environments. Good luck!

This was last published in March 2005

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