Welcome to TruQua’s New Perspectives blog series. This blog series provides a platform for our consultants to share their perspectives, insights, and experiences on emerging technologies such as SAP HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud.
As this is our fifth installment of New Perspectives, we are mixing it up a bit. Today we are not speaking with a Consultant, but instead with a critical member of our management team – Stephanie Hettrich. Stephanie is the Director of Recruitment for TruQua and has been incredibly successful in her 20 years of experience in recruiting, talent development, marketing, and business development. This should be an interesting read for SAP customers, as well as current and prospective consultants.
Cultivating a Diverse Team
JS Irick: As anyone who has built something more complex than an Ikea dresser knows, diversity leads to stronger organizations. The ability to draw on different experiences and different skill sets leads to more flexibility and better overall project results than homogeneous teams can provide. On any large enterprise IT project, there is at a minimum the need for expertise in the customer’s business area, computer science, accounting, finance, and mathematics.
Stephanie, I am consistently impressed with your ability to recruit diverse talent, both in terms of background and cultural origin. How do you go about identifying this talent, and what do you do to ensure a good corporate culture fit? I’d be especially interested in any insights you have on foreign or neuro-atypical talent.
Stephanie Hettrich: Resumes are the most common currency for any job applicant trying to get their foot in the door with hiring managers. I personally think what a person portrays on paper is often misrepresentative of what he/she really brings to the table, or worse, misaligned with other skills that can’t translate on a resume. I tend to zero in on the summary applicants write about themselves and pay less attention to the ensuing details. The personal story people can write reveals far more than chronological job history descriptions. If the hard skills match the role at hand and the resume is succinct (one-page resumes with a smart layout and key points beat endless pages of data any day!), the next key qualifier is how well they engage with me during the recruiting process: Are they responsive and timely in communications? Can they write professional emails? Is their level of enthusiasm and drive palpable in communications leading up to their interview? Everything communicates, and I value this process as a key qualifier when searching for new “unknown” talent.
TruQua is also extremely well connected in the SAP world. LinkedIn plays a key role in revealing who knows whom, and their respective connection paths. This is a driving search criterium for me and one I rely on quite a bit. I don’t use any other search platform outside of LinkedIn as it occupies a reign supreme for professional recruiters, but more importantly because the best talent is on LinkedIn whether they’re actively looking for new opportunities or not. Some of the best finds are the result of passive searches on LinkedIn, where I can leverage connections with our current employees. Additionally, as a top social media platform, LinkedIn also allows for wide-ranging searches across the globe, hence allowing us to find top international talent.
The pre-screener is the first one-on-one interaction between applicants and TruQua. I like to start off this meeting by letting candidates know I am looking to get to know them better, as well as answer any questions they may have. Allowing recruits to feel comfortable usually reveals who they really are and avoids perfunctory, rehearsed answers. Once nerves are calm and I make candidates feel comfortable, I like to dive into behavioral questions that allow me to best evaluate culture fit along with our internal motto of “Smart Driven Nice.” Here I’m assessing EQ more than anything else; not hard skills as this is further drilled down during technical interviews. Also, we believe at TruQua that “culture eats strategy for lunch” so this is a pre-requisite to moving on to the next level. At this point, my goal is to glean more out of the individual than what appears on his/her resume. Some of the questions I ask for example are:
Gives us a piece of feedback you recently received from your boss that depicts something about you we may not read on your resume.
Describe a good hustle you went through at work or in your own life.
What do you consider the nicest skill you possess?
As to diversity, no doubt it enriches a company’s culture and skills across the board. As an intimate firm, we represent 12 countries with employees from Mexico, Brazil, China, Korea, Rwanda, South Africa, Argentina, France, India, Lithuania, Moldova, Taiwan. This rich mix of cultures is rare for in any company, let alone a small start-up like TruQua.
We also take a very holistic approach to our recruiting and talent development to promote diversification of skills. We believe great consultants need to know how to speak to both CFOs and CIOs at any large organization. Our consultants are encouraged to continuously grow and acquire news skills around four key areas: Functional (finance, accounting, business), Technical (all-things-SAP-Finance but mostly latest & greatest on a continuum), Business Development (pre-selling and selling), Project Management (knowing how projects are run from blueprint to reporting).
As to further diversifying our talent pool, the two big areas of opportunity would be:
- Hiring more female consultants. The fields of IT and Consulting have historically been predominantly male, especially in the U.S. Times are changing, however, and younger children are learning how to code as early as elementary school. Girls are also bolstered and encouraged to get into STEM fields through visionary organizations like org, Girls Who Code, Kode with Klossie etc. The gender chasm in what used to be a male-only vocation is closing, and we want to further represent this progressive mindset and positive change.
- Hiring neuro-atypical talent. I would personally love to embark upon this next frontier (1) as a mother of a child with autism and (2) given SAP is a huge investor in hiring Differently Abled People:
At SAP, we believe that differently abled does not mean unable. Differently abled individuals are typically able to find unique and innovative solutions to challenges. Their perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds support the diversity SAP needs to achieve our strategic objectives. Our focus is on skills and strengths, rather than what others may see as impairments. This view has helped us see new possibilities. SAP’s internationally recognized Autism at Work program, operating in 13 countries, shows this commitment, employing more than 160 colleagues with autism. By embracing differences, we help spark innovation — while challenging assumptions and inspiring change.
JS Irick: Perfectly said. I am so happy you mentioned Girls Who Code. In my work supporting underrepresented communities in tech, the number one intervention was simply showing positive role models. The work of charities like Girls Who Code and My Block, My Hood, My City (formyblock.org) are transformational.
Getting into Consulting
JS Irick: Our Data Science summer interns started last week, and one of my key goals is to help prepare them for their eventual job search. A big part of this is the preparation of their project and writing portfolio so they can go into an interview with concrete examples of their work. Obviously, this comes from my perspective as an interviewer and manager, I’d like to hear your perspective from the recruiting and talent development side.
Stephanie Hettrich: Without a doubt, concrete examples of work are a great measure of a candidate’s current stock and future potential. As I mentioned before, resumes only reveal so much, but the same could be said about interviews. When you think about it, interviews are similar to being up on stage and putting on your best act; rehearsing lines, dressing up, memorizing questions and thus not necessarily reflecting your real self. On the other hand, seeing actual work says much more about what candidates can actually do. It’s the difference between saying what you can do versus seeing the end-result of it.
JS Irick: Knowing what you know now, put yourself in the shoes of a College Sophomore. What would be your strategy to best prepare yourself for a consulting career?
Stephanie Hettrich: There are no undergraduate degrees that teach consulting, let alone SAP consulting. That said, the SAP Finance portfolio of products has evolved from being purely technical to being much more functional over the past few years, especially with S/4HANA and Central Finance playing such key roles in the market. As such, I would say majoring in Finance, Accounting or Business would offer a great foundation to learning the functional side of SAP consulting. On the other hand, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Economics/Econometrics, Data Processing using algorithms are great fields of study to learn the purely technical side of SAP software. MIS is likely the closest hybrid between technical and functional ability that resembles the core skills needed to learn what we do. Regardless of hard skills or college majors, however, SAP consulting can really only be learned on the job as consulting is a way of life in and of itself. It also requires myriad soft skills and EQ, which is seldom learned at a college level. We take great pride in offering our very own TruQua TONE – Training and Orientation for New Employees – to cover the fundamentals of SAP and Consulting over 3 intensive weeks of hands-on courses.
JS Irick: At TruQua, we take a tremendous amount of pride in the growth and development of our employees. I consider the first year on the team to be a transformative one, not only for new hires but for newly hired senior team members as well. We are in an industry that moves incredibly quickly, in order to provide long term stability and growth for our team members it is imperative that we provide the ability to consistently upskill.
What can organizations do to ensure an environment where their team can continually grow?
Stephanie Hettrich: Our people are our best asset. It is thus paramount that we allow our talent to continuously develop their skills set, as well as advance their careers in a direction that is meaningful to them. We’re lucky that our Leadership is obsessed with always being cutting edge with SAP technology and its advances in the market. By extension, our company ethos is about constant learning and always running ahead of the technology (1) to be highly competitive and relevant in the market and (2) to foresee how we can pivot our internal skills set accordingly. It trickles down from above, but it also requires access to the right people at SAP in order to gain the right knowledge and resources. As a trusted SAP partner, we pride ourselves on cultivating key relationships, growing our network of connections by regularly attending and speaking at marquee SAP conferences around the globe, investing in R&D, as well as exponentially increasing our marketing presence across strategic channels. All these efforts have made our reputation and brand name as a premium provider of bleeding edge SAP Finance software and services stronger than ever. As we grow externally, it is imperative that we synergize efforts internally by giving our consultants access to the newest learning tools. In parallel, we strive to align key skills sets with our consultants’ areas of interest to capitalize on their core strengths and passions for optimal future development. In order to get there, we promote open and regular internal communications, mentor assignments, regular check-ins with consultants of a higher ranking, and regular internal training. These initiatives are done as a complement to our formal yearly performance review process so as to ensure consultants can grow and learn new skills based on their own subjective drive, versus as a product of management goals.
JS Irick: That’s an inspiring answer! You recruit based not only on a person’s current capabilities but their potential as well. What is one way in which you identify candidates that will continue to grow and excel?
Stephanie Hettrich: TruQua gives a lot of autonomy to its employees. There is a lot of work to do, deadlines to meet, pressure and stress to endure, but the most common goal amongst our employees is to achieve “weightlessness,” an internal concept that promotes quality, diligence, and self-efficacy. Weightlessness is about seeking out new skills in order to advance to new levels of professionalism. It is about increasing one’s strengths so that ever-greater challenges can be surpassed once previous struggles are mastered and newly gained knowledge is internalized along the way. Through weightlessness, anyone can grow and make an impact at TruQua no matter their background, tenure or previous experience. I see potential in people who embody weightlessness in all its forms: By going outside of their comfort zone to learn new skills, by conquering complex problems that involve struggle, by selflessly making time for their teammates to teach them those same steps, by volunteering to alleviate a colleagues’ workload even if the work isn’t directly in line with a given workstream. You can do a good job of staying in your lane, but you can do a great job by facing ambiguity. Those who grow and excel usually take on new challenges first and foremost for the betterment of the team, and secondarily for themselves.
JS Irick: Stephanie, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Your answers were both incredibly detailed and truly aspirational. We are so proud of the team you have helped to build at TruQua, and I hope this discussion helps other organizations build stronger, more inclusive groups. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise, and I look forward to our future discussions.
About our contributors:
Director of Recruiting
Stephanie Hettrich has been spearheading Recruiting at TruQua Enterprises, LLC since the company’s inception. With expertise in relationship management, communications, marketing, and project management, Stephanie has leveraged her skills to find talent and manage TruQua’s growing team of experts.
Director of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence
JS Irick has the best job in the world; working with a talented team to solve the toughest business challenges. JS is an internationally recognized speaker on the topics of Machine Learning, SAP Planning, SAP S/4HANA and Software development. As the Director of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at TruQua, JS has built best practices for SAP implementations in the areas of SAP HANA, SAP S/4HANA reporting, and SAP S/4HANA customization.
Thank you for reading this installment in our New Perspectives blog series. Stay tuned for our next post where we will be talking to TruQua Interns Nicole Aragon and Treeank Patnaik on breaking into consulting and learning new technologies.
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