I continue to be surprised by people who are still thinking about SAP in terms of core R/3 modules. SAP is transforming its product line, and your best chances of breaking in might be to pursue some of these new areas. After all, when you compete for MM jobs, you're going up against people who have five, seven, or even ten years of MM experience.
On the other hand, if you were to pursue, for example, SAP's mySAP Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) and e-procurement product (EBP), which are related to MM functionality, you wouldn't be going up against five- to seven-year guys because those products haven't been around for nearly that long. So, to me, the best way to break into SAP is to get experience or training in the new stuff.
I'm not sure how you have narrowed things down to ABAP or MM, but you might want to take one more look at SAP's mySAP product line before you narrow your options. Another thought: Take a closer look at how you might be able to utilize some of your previous skills to get your first break in SAP. For example, when you mention your experience in product modeling and design, I can't help but think of the mySAP Product Lifecycle Management product (PLM). I'd think there are aspects of the PLM product that tie directly into your current experiences and skills. If so, that would really improve your chances of getting into this area.
Add a PLM certification onto your current background, and you might have a chance of finding a project where you could have some level of involvement on the PLM side of things. It's a long shot, but to me, you'd have a much better chance of getting into PLM, where you have more industry background and less competition, than breaking into MM, where you have less industry experience and much tougher competition.
Hopefully this answer has given you a sense of the methodology I recommend to folks who try to break into SAP. It doesn't work for everyone, but I do hear from consultants who have managed to break into SAP based on this kind of approach. Good luck.
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