Melanie Burkhardt, 29, got into the job through an individual entry program for junior consultants. She has now been with cbs for more than two years, and when you talk to her, you quickly get the impression that she and cbs are a perfect match. The woman from South Baden has a strong personality and enjoys working in a team. She is exactly what an ideal candidate should be: committed, focused and results-oriented, but at the same time very easy-going and likeable.
After completing her bachelor’s degree in business administration, Melanie, who originally comes from Freiburg, initially worked in product analysis for the Munich-based tour operator FTI Group. Even then, she learned a lot from the interaction between the specialist department (product management and controlling) and the IT department. One example of a requirement: What kind of hotels are currently in particularly high demand in certain destinations?
She then worked with her colleagues from the Business Intelligence department to create an individual report that provided the appropriate results. “This work was already fun for me. However, sometimes I also had frustration when I requested a solution from IT. I would have preferred to take matters into my own hands, but I didn’t have all the strings in my hands because I was assigned to a different department,” explains Melanie. But that’s already an indication of her aspirations: “I actually always want to understand IT, to penetrate the interrelationships even better.”
Thus, she became more and more interested in the IT industry in general and the analytics sector in particular. She therefore decided to study Business Informatics at the University of Applied Sciences in Karlsruhe and worked for various consulting companies at the same time. It was during this time that she finally discovered her passion for SAP Analytics Cloud. “With the BI tool, you are constantly serving other stakeholders. As a result, the requirements change often, which makes it very exciting to work with,” Melanie explains. “It’s also interesting how the tool itself is also constantly improving, adding more and more features that you missed before.”
A job offer within two days
After successfully completing her academic career, Melanie became aware of cbs through the recommendation of an acquaintance. During the interview with Consulting Director Jens Rohlf and her current supervisor Markus Maier, Melanie was offered a direct entry as a junior consultant. This is an individual entry program, similar to a trainee program. It lasts not four, but six months. The training starts flexibly, i.e. independently of the two major trainee years in April and October, and is very individually tailored. “After the interview, it was super fast. Within two days I had an offer on the table – that was really strong and impressed me,” Melanie recalls.
She immediately realized: direct entry as a junior consultant is the perfect opportunity to integrate her technical knowledge as well as her professional experience into the consultant job. At the same time, she can further deepen the technical basics in the area of SAP Business Warehouse (BW). Stage fright at the premiere? Yes, definitely. “At first, I was a little unsure whether I could really meet the high demands at cbs, especially since I noticed that Jens also demands a lot in terms of business administration. But I have my business studies as a basis.”
What was particularly exciting for Melanie was that she was integrated into customer projects right from the start and was able to hold a user training session at the customer’s site after just two months. A real highlight, even today. “I thought that was very cool, a real vote of confidence for me, which gave me additional self-confidence,” she emphasizes. “My boss obviously saw: there were still some gaps in the area of SAP BW and therefore needed additional training from the SAP Academy – but in the area of SAP Analytics Cloud I was ready.”
How tough was it at SAP Academy? Four weeks of training, lots of material – it takes time to get through SAP completely. Melanie says that the SAP certification questions were tough on her nerves. 80 multiple-choice questions where, despite several supposedly suitable answers, only the absolutely correct one counts. Detailed knowledge is required. It helped that she was able to work on smaller case studies at cbs, in which the technological principles from the SAP training courses were applied directly to a test system.
She is lucky enough to be learning a lot in the Kemira project at a global chemical company from Finland, with which cbs has been working for many years, especially in the area of planning. It’s like on-the-job training in its purest form, very instructive.
The boss gives her confidence
Melanie works at the new cbs location in Freiburg, which has recently moved due to sustained growth over the years. When she started at cbs in the fall of 2020, she was only the fourth employee in Freiburg; now there is room for 35 consultants. Melanie is certain: “The new office in Heinrich-von-Stephan-Strasse gives our location a tremendous boost. ”
cbs advises European global market leaders, top companies such as Mann + Hummel, Roche, Trumpf and Schott. “That’s appealing, even in the long term,” Melanie admits. There is also the special corporate culture. There are many young people, there is sometimes a spontaneous barbecue on the roof terrace, and the parties after the Summer Summit have become legendary. And recently, many colleagues have started wearing these orange cbs hoodies to work. “If you look at it, cbs is a cool company,” says Melanie.
Celebrating is especially fun when you’ve been working hard. But Melanie is also not the type to run away when things get difficult on customer projects. Quite the opposite. Perhaps it helps that she is also a passionate soccer player. Melanie has been playing as a defender for TuS Obermünstertal since she was in her early teens, even though she is not able to train as often at the moment due to her job. “Fighting spirit is definitely one of my strengths,” she says. You can also use this stamina when things aren’t going so well in SAP projects. Melanie most recently experienced this during an IT project in Heidelberg, just a few minutes’ drive from the cbs headquarters. “Sometimes, as a young consultant, you have to earn the respect and trust of the customer first.”
The human factor is key to success
It is often about communication. People depend on relationships in order to cooperate well within project teams. Consultants must not only be good listeners. How do I explain a special requirement to an ABAP developer at the customer? And how do I present the results to the business department at the end? This requires very different approaches. “These are subtleties, it’s demanding, but that’s exactly what I’m good at,” Melanie knows. She senses that the human factor is having more and more influence on project success. “In addition to the technical skills you need to bring to the table in order to develop a desired solution, it is enormously important to be empathetic, to pick up a wide variety of stakeholders at the right level, to be able to read between the lines again and again, and to think yourself into different roles. And that’s where I’ve learned a lot in the last four years, during which I’ve been able to help develop IT solutions.”