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Gaining a lot of experience in short time and working with various companies on different topics – two good reasons for starting my career in consulting. This is hardly possible anywhere else: the speed with which I can accumulate knowledge and the learning curve for my own competencies. Joining cbs was a coincidence; whilst searching for consultancies, cbs contacted me via social media.
The trainee programme at the company confirmed my positive experience during the application process with contacts at cbs: a lot of knowledge transfer in short time is a step towards new skills in IT, processes, and SAP topics as well as for presentations. After the trainee phase, responsibilities grow through project work – and the dialogue with trainees and colleagues triggers the young consultant’s life. For me, the primary motivating factor is inquisitiveness – after a short period of professional experience, it’s all about deepening the solid knowledge base. This is added by the contact with customers – interactions, communications and projects are different from company to company. You have to adjust all the time – to topics and to clients, the day-to-day project work is diverse every day.
Joining SAP consulting at cbs with a master’s degree in business administration, for example, can start in Finance and Controlling amongst other modules, graduates with master’s degrees in STEM subjects can start in System Landscape Transformation. Business knowledge and technical know-how are combined. I have found university content in the consulting world. Nevertheless, in the SAP environment particularly, you won’t get very far with “just” business knowledge; you need to understand SAP systems. The trainee programme provides a quick and intense schedule: systems, applications and customer-specific configurations are a first stress test for starters, a manageable challenge for me.
My life as a consultant
For me, working at cbs means continuous personal development, expert mentoring, and a friendly team atmosphere.
As a process and IT consultancy, cbs is all about combining business knowledge with an understanding of process and system landscapes. The same applies: if you understand “only” the system, but do not have the business basics, you will also face challenges. You don’t necessarily learn specific business processes in university. This is new at cbs and comes up in client projects, whereas in University, it is all theoretical.
SAP certification and fictitious client project for end-to-end processes
Despite the short timeline of four months, my expectations for the trainee programme were met with a lot of knowledge. The program included an introduction and internal training at cbs, external training with an SAP certification in the latest software generation S/4HANA at the SAP Academy, a case study and a final presentation at cbs. This provides a good structure. But it’s your own, sometimes not easy task to process and prioritise it all. Nevertheless, most of the information sticks from the intense introduction. The trainees work together to implement the new insights in a case study: in your own modules, for me Financial Accounting, and integrated with other modules, such as Controlling, Business Intelligence or Materials Management / Sales & Distribution.
The case study is quite close to reality. In the S/4HANA environment, like many client projects today, we started with an “empty” system. My module (Financial Accounting) consists of topics like company codes, parallel and new asset accounting. The procedures are also very realistic: weekly status calls for the project management, constant internal exchange and the presentation to the “fictitious” customers.
The final presentation mainly covered the demonstration of end-to-end processes in the system for a fictitious international company based in Germany that manufactures speed boards and cameras – the presentation required the system to be implemented on-premise and in the cloud. The audience at the final presentation consisted of experienced cbs consultants and parts of the management team. Of course, the pressure is higher than at university, so the preparation was correspondingly intense. We became more experienced over time, but there was a nervous atmosphere in the trainee room during the last week. We had to work together implementing the requirements in such a way that the end-to-end processes ran smoothly in the presentation. This required a lot of coordination, not only within your own module, but also with trainees from the other modules – right down to rehearsing or testing so that it works in the final presentation. Critical questions from cbs consultants, based on project experience provided the “acid test” from the perspective of the fictitious customer – in my case on a Fiori app in asset accounting and interfaces to other applications.
To be challenged and encouraged in mentoring programme and consulting life
Each trainee had a mentor for optimal support, regular dialogue and weekly meetings to discuss the topics individually. I also used a short telephone call or e-mail for quick answers during the case study. My mentor was a trainee before and knew the concerns and issues that mattered to me – Christian Stürmer supported me very closely and shoulder-to-shoulder with project experience from his first year after the trainee programme. The mentors reduce anxiety or frustration the trainees might face, so that solutions can arise within the team again. The principles of the mentoring programme are to be challenged and encouraged. A value-add for me is the rapid build-up of networks during the trainee programme. The exchange between colleagues is real preparation for the job. In day-to-day project work, questions also arise about other modules. For example, when creating an accounting entry for an FI receipt, an error message can occur, originating in the Controlling module. Here I benefited from direct contacts that I established during the trainee programme.
Driving projects forward is the most fun for me when it comes to the real – currently virtual due to Covid-19 – consulting life. It’s a positive notion when the project is on track as planned and you’re making progress. In addition, there is the feedback from clients – when I present the developed topics to customers and notice that this is well received. The next step leads to more responsibility. As a consultant on projects, I gain good experience with customer contact, workshop facilitation and project management tasks within my module. Fully responsible project management can follow mid-term. The trainee programme enables further development to become the “manager of tomorrow”. Learning as a trainee, getting your first project experience as a consultant, gaining responsibilities as a senior consultant – or even being a part of international project assignments worldwide. These concepts are continuously promoted – the supervisors and teams at cbs want you to develop, take on new roles and more responsibility.