You may know Ravi Sankar Venna because he contributes not only in his area of technical expertise, but also around topics that resonate with many: career and certification. If you don’t, then I am happy to introduce him to you as our SCN Member of the Month for September 2013. Ravi has been on SCN for almost 10 years now and he has gathered a quite impressive following in the community. His content attracts praise and a lot of positive feedback, so much that he was the first person ever to get the SCN Thought Leader badge.
Ravi and I talked on a Friday morning – evening for his time. I was the last thing between him and a well-deserved weekend ;-) but it was clear to me that he felt honored at this new distinction. A lot of us liked to read his life story as related in his Blog It Forward post, and his persistence and eagerness to learn are inspiring.
Ravi, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, who you work for, and other things you would like to share with the community (hobbies, fun facts)?
I was born and raised in India and moved to the UK 5 years ago. I am a Management Accountant and Company Secretary by profession but then decided to move into SAP because of the great passion that I have developed about its great products from day one. I always love to learn new technologies and keep in touch with people in SAP.
My wife and I live in Birmingham, United Kingdom, and we have two lovely kids. I started my own consulting company called “ERP Experts UK Limited” and I am the director/consultant. Earlier, I worked with Logica (now part of CGI) for 9 years in the UK and in India. My latest assignment includes the successful implementation and post go-live support of SAP Asset Accounting for a Utilities Company in the UK. My current lifestyle is a typical consulting life, away from home for five days and enjoying weekends at home . I love travelling for work, seeing new places as well as meeting new people. I travelled five times to the Netherlands and a couple of times to Germany. My hobbies include theatre, acting, swimming (no longer), playing the flute, watching cricket and playing cricket with my kids on the weekends. Also, I love to type fast.
You mention “Tollywood” movies in your Blog It Forward post. What is it? I know Bollywood movies, but not “Tollywood”!
Ha ha ha… Good question. You are right; this is the doubt of many people. Bollywood is the biggest film fraternity in India. However, this is not the only “wood” in India, there are also other local language film fraternities called Tollywood (Telugu), Kollywood (Tamil) and Sandalwood (Kannada) etc. I do not even know how many “woods”exist in India. Every “wood” has famous heroes / actors and they have millions of fans across the globe. In India people are crazy about movies. Without doubt, India is the global leader in producing number of films. It was always exciting to see the movie of my favourite actor on the first day / first show in my childhood days.
Your SCN bio is a long list of SAP certifications; it made me dizzy to read it ;-) What would you like to share about certification that you have not done previously in your blogs on SCN? And pardon my ignorance, but I’d like to better understand the difference between being certified on a module or on a solution. Can you explain?
I did my first certification way back in 2003 on SAP Finance & Controlling (FICO 4.6), then did my SAP Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM) Certification in 2005 and SAP Business Information Warehouse (BW) in 2006, SAP Solution Manager, SAP Security & SAP Financials (FI 6.0) in 2008 and SAP Business Foundation / Integration (SAP ERP 6.0 EHP5) in 2013. The last certification I did was in 2013, which is fairly easy if someone has fair knowledge about different modules.
Good question, if the Certification is based on a module then the knowledge is mainly restricted to that particular module, such as FI, CO, MM, SD, PM, PP, HR, QM and PS etc., whereas, the certifications based on solution would usually cut across the modules such as SAP Solution Manager, SAP Security, SAP GRC and SAP Business Foundation & Integration etc.
Looking at your LinkedIn profile, it seems that your background was business at first, and then you transitioned to a more technical role. Was that when you started your SAP career? Knowing how you are self-driven, I can well imagine how you pushed yourself to learn new things, but I would like you to share your journey with the community.
My corporate stint started way back in 1998 with ANZ Grindlays Bank in India. I joined them as an Industrial Trainee and they were one of the best foreign banks in India at that time. I then moved to Tata Chemicals in January 2000, part of Tata conglomerate, and joined their Internal Audit team. This is where I was introduced to SAP and being an internal audit professional, we had display access to all the modules. This gave me an additional opportunity to better understand the data flows between various modules. I should say I was much passionate about SAP from the first instance and ended up exploring the system a lot. Then I moved to Bharat Aluminium Company in April 2002, now part of Vedanta Group, listed in the London Stock Exchange. I was working in Finance and was a part of their core team member for SAP Implementation. This is where I had much privilege to interact with different consultants. Then I did my first certification in FICO and moved to Covansys in March 2004 for a shorter stint. Later, I moved to Logica in May 2004 and worked with them in India until February 2008, date when I moved to their UK Unit. Recently I started my own consulting venture and I am looking forward to more challenges. Something I am always proud to say is that whatever investment I made on SAP-related education is out of my own pocket, and it is already more than £50,000 L I have around 60 SAP books – see this picture:
When did you become a member of SCN and what brought you to this community?
I can see the exact date in my profile; it was December 13, 2004. I can go back and remember; that was during my first trip to Netherlands. I might have logged as any other enthusiast in SAP. I still remember SAP used to send colour pencils, water bottles, binoculars and other gifts with SAP emblem when we reached a particular milestone. I felt those gifts were so precious that I still have them. However, later they stopped sending them, as the people in the community have increased significantly.
How do you find the time to contribute on SCN?
It is always good to contribute at night… Just kidding . Joke aside, I still believe it is a factual statement, as most of the good time is available in the night time. Mostly after the tedious day work, I always enjoy to look at various posts / blogs in the evening until 11 p.m. Then again in the early morning I probably wake up with SCN. In my free time I always tend to read good stuff and answer some urgent issues on SCN. SAP Community Network is one of the sites that I visit on a daily (hourly!) basis. Particularly in 2009. I was very “addicted” and logged on even during the weekends to contribute.
It seems that most of your SCN blogs are related to career and certification, whereas you provide FI and other technical support in the discussion forums. Why is that?
About one year ago it was really different: I was contributing solely in the SAP Financials area and about 90% of my lifetime points came from that area as well as Security and other topics. Then last year I wrote my first blog in the SAP Certification area and got a very good response, which inspired me to write more blogs in the SAP career and certification area. Still, I believe that 70% of my total lifetime points are from these technical areas and 70:30 is still not a bad ratio! In 2009, I was the top contributor in the Financials area and I was overall top contributor on SDN. I was not much active from the mid of 2009 due to some other commitments. I still regret that I became inactive on SCN for quite some time, but, it is part of life and I need to move on. Currently, I am still active in the Financials forum, but not really desperate to answer all the questions. There are number of reasons:
a) The quality of the postings has come down (though substantial measures are taken to maintain the quality)
b) Most of the questions are already answered (maybe the time zone plays a role here)
c) The number of people has increased
d) The number of questions has decreased (maybe people search more before posting now?) and
e) I am personally not that happy with the new forums compared with the old SCN forums
Note from Laure: Here, I had to dig a little bit further, you see, being a community manager ;-) Ravi does enjoy the new SCN, its engaging features, the email notifications and the ability to connect with people, follow them, etc. But he misses the old forums where he could find “his stuff” quickly with one or two clicks.
On the number of open questions, I told him that pre-moderation is in place for new members and members with less activity in the community, and therefore all discussion posts are moderated before publication. It takes the moderators a long time and a lot of work to release everything, which is not an ideal situation given the urgency of certain questions. But the team is trying to change this and make an exception to pre-moderation: in the discussion forums everything would be posted right away without going through moderation. This requires development so stay tuned as we are working on it.
Which one of your blogs are you most proud of? And it doesn’t have to be the one with the most likes, comments and bookmarks ;-)
I strongly believe that every blog I wrote was done as part of a long thought process. It is always difficult for me to select a single blog, but I would like to give the top five blogs that I feel proud of and the reasons:
How to Approach and Pass a SAP Certification (I believe many people have benefitted from it)
Top 10 Myths about SAP Certification (Most acclaimed comments by critics)
How to transform yourself from a fresher to an expert SAP Consultant? (For giving me the Thought Leader badge )
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) by SAP Consultants (For its high level overview)
Top 10 inherent traits of true individual (For being close to my heart)
You were the first person on SCN to earn the Thought Leader badge. Did you notice when that happened a month ago? What does this achievement mean to you?
It was a sweet surprise when I received the Thought Leader badge with the wonderful 125 points. I thought other people might have achieved this. But, I only realized that I was the first person to receive this badge when you mentioned me in your blog Find out who is SCN Thought Leader! (a challenge) and it was a great surprise and more excitement than the real Thought Leader badge. The badge is always special for me, but I cannot praise you enough for investing your time in writing this blog to make it more exciting. This badge does not belong to me, but to the whole SAP Community Members. In this regard, I am dedicating this badge to all our community members.
Note from Laure: Wow, that must mean a lot to the community and your fans. That’s very kind of you to say that.
If a new member came to you and asked for your advice on how to be an active and respected member of SCN, what would you say?
“Never take success to your head and failure to your heart, treat both of them as your eyes”. I strongly believe that even 1,000 miles start with a single step. All the top contributors in this community started with few points on their board. It is their determination and commitment that distinguished them as top leaders in their areas. Trust your inner abilities to help people across the borders with selflessness.
Is there an SCN member you admire (OK… you can name a few)?
There are many great people on SCN whom I admire and it would be unfair on my part not to mention all their names. But, due to constraint on the space, I would like to mention a few:
Tammy Powlas (for unwavering commitment towards the community)
Jon Reed (for insightful knowledge and visionary thoughts on various subjects)
Susan Martin (for constant improvements in the SAP Education & Certification area)
Thomas Dulaney (for amazing contributions and career guidance)
Jarret Pazahanick (for being helpful in expanding my audience to a wider community)
Marssel Vilaca (for constant encouragement and finance contributions)
Ajay Maheswari (for highest contributions in the Financials Forum)
What technology recently had you most enthusiastic about?
SAP is changing their technologies at breathtaking speed. I am more enthusiastic about Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC), SAP BusinessObjects (BOBJ) and SAP High Performance Analytics Appliance (SAP HANA). Being functional consultant, I am also interested in learning Financial Supply Chain Management (FSCM).
Easy question: Mac/iOS or Windows? Or Android?
So far I am always on Windows. I always go to shops and get the feel of Apple notebooks, but I leave when I see the price tag! Next time, it seems that I should not look at the price tag at all when I decide to purchase a MacBook!
I use Android for my mobile. I started using Samsung Galaxy III and I am still enjoying its features. I hope to give a try for their next version Samsung Galaxy IV.
Are you on Twitter?
I am neither on Twitter nor Facebook. I compensate my missed time on Twitter and FB with SCN and Linkedin.
Every month, a member of the SAP Community Network is recognized for exemplary behavior: sharing knowledge with peers, being helpful and taking on additional tasks to support community engagement. See the list of previous SCN Members of the Month.