It was January 2000. I had just returned to my job after maternity leave. Though life was a complete overhaul for me, I was not prepared for the changes at my workplace. The management had changed. My IT Manager had changed. Our company was planning to go online and also implement the SAP Software.
I was part of the IT department which comprised of 4 people and a manager. We were supporting the infrastructure and applications for the entire company. On the day I resumed, my new manager, called me for a meeting. He updated me on the high level changes happening in our company. As a result, my existing programming skills were really useless. He asked me to choose between Web designing, CAD and SAP ABAP. The rest of the meeting was a blur as I thought of being jobless.
I came back to my desk and talked about it with my colleague of over 5 years, Ganesh. We had joined the company fresh, just a few months apart. We had been through lots of ups and downs in the company together. Also being with the same person, 9 hours a day, 6 days a week, made him my best friend and confidante.
‘So, what have you decided?’ he asked me.
‘Web designing. Its the in-thing. I am not good at CAD. SAP, I don’t know. Isn’t everybody into e-commerce, B2B, B2C nowadays?’ I said thinking aloud. That’s when Ganesh reasoned it out. He said, ‘Why you want to follow the herd? You will soon be of no use, since you will be so easily replaceable. Why don’t you go for SAP?’
Back then, SAP was new in India. It was just making its presence felt. Its training cost was astronomical, it still is. I was not sure if its the right thing. I discussed the same with my husband. He felt Ganesh does sound reasonable. And we really had nothing to lose.
And so, I got onto SAP. The manager said, ‘We will not train you. You have the application at your disposal, you will get any training material you ask for. But you have to train yourself.’
With a 4 month old son and living in a joint family, it was the biggest challenge of my life. I ordered a book called, ‘Teach yourself ABAP in 21 days.’ Due to lack of time at home, I used to study during my 4 hour commute. At office, I had no time to study due to the work load. In a year’s time, with good knowledge of ABAP, I left the manufacturing company to join an IT company. There has been no looking back since then. Not only was my income increased 4 times by the single job change, our lives were completely changed.
Web designing was a big flop with the dot com bust in 2000. But SAP survived the dot com bust and the subsequent recessions. It is still a strong skillset even after 15 years since I first started on it.
Thank you my best friend, Ganesh, for giving me the right advice at the right time. And I never follow the herd.