I have a BS and MS in Computer Science with about 9 years of programming experience in various roles. I will also be completing my MBA by the end of this year.

My company, which had home grown applications, was recently divested ending with 600+ employees. We are now installing SAP. How can/should I position myself? Also what are the long-term prospects for me with SAP?

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It is not clear to me whether you are getting an MBA to become more of a "functional" person, or whether you want to continue on as a programmer. You need to make that decision first, and then you can decide how to position yourself within SAP. SAP, as you know, spans a range of functional and technical areas. I would do your best to get SAP exposure within your company, based on whether you are pursuing either a technical or functional career focus. Don't wind up on the technical side of SAP if the whole point of your MBA is to become more functionally focused. It's too early to say what the long-term prospects are for you within SAP. Based on your overall background, it looks to me like you are mostly a technical developer looking to beef up your management and business background. I would say that your overall career prospects depend less on SAP and more on your overall attitude and commitment to skills enhancement. Based on the fact that you took the initiative to go out and get an MBA, I would say your long-term prospects are excellent. But you need to continue with that pro-active mindset, investing in various trainings and certifications and keeping yourself positioned for whatever's next. Remember that in SAP, the most important thing is obtaining strong, hands-on skills in implementation settings. Don't settle just for being an SAP user if you really want a long term SAP career.

This was first published in July 2004

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