Never Stop Dreaming.
These were the words my late grandmother would always say. When I was a kid, my greatest dream is to be able to go to Disneyland. But coming from a small town and a lower middle class family, I never got a chance to enjoy this magical place as a kid.
My parents ran a small automotive repair shop and made just enough money to put food on the table for their five children. I had to study hard to enter a private high school as a scholar. I had to study even harder to pass the difficult entrance exam to the country’s best university because it would be my only chance to have a good education without having to worry about my tuition fees. I strived hard to complete my studies and even though I was coming to 20 years old that time, I still know that I want to fulfill that childhood dream.
But with my parents getting older and being the eldest among five children, I had to put that dream on hold.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I have learned a few different programming languages like Visual Basic, C++ and Java in school. These three 4GL languages were the “in” thing because they have greatly improved the programming experience by having a very good graphical user interface (GUI). So armed with a diploma and just like any other university students who couldn’t wait to get their first jobs, I was very eager to prove to the corporate world that I am ready.
The Search for My First Company
I had my internship at this food and beverage company, so when I learned that they had an opening for a Management Information Systems (MIS) position, I immediately applied. I only lasted one month in this company though because all I did was setup computers for the employees, crimp LAN/network cables and install Windows operating system on PCs. I didn’t want my programming skills to go to waste and I was so arrogant that I wouldn’t want to do anything else aside from developing softwares using Visual Basic or Java, so I resigned.
Forced Into Something I Didn’t Really Want to Do… at First!
I saw an opening for a Visual Basic programmer in this Japanese hard disk drive manufacturing company and I got accepted. They also had this on going project called SAP Implementation and they needed one ABAP programmer so badly.
Due to the urgent need, my manager put me into this SAP project team. I was given just 3 days training to create mass data conversion programs. Back then, the programming language of SAP called ABAP does not have a very good graphical user interface and for me, it seems like programming using COBOL and LISP which were languages before the dawn of Pentium processors. For a Visual Basic programmer, this seemed like going back to Stone Age.
I hated ABAP, I don’t want to learn more. It’s so ugly! But one lady from the project team convinced me that “SAP is where the money is” so then I’ve decided to stay a bit more. A year later, our project went live successfully. And this lady became my girlfriend!
An Invitation From a Top 3 Global Consulting Company
Coming from a small town, my goal is to be able to work in the financial capital of Manila after completing my university degree. There is this one global consulting company whose office sits in the heart of Makati, the financial capital. It’s kind of a dream company for me because I also wanted to wear shirt and tie and be called a consultant.
However, I felt intimidated to apply because the smartest kids in college would get a job there and I thought they would only accept those with Latin honours (cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude).
But one day upon coming home, I got a telegram from this “dream” company and the letter actually asked me to send in my credentials. They were starting an SAP offshore team with clients in the US and with my freshly gained ABAP programming experience, I would be able to help train the newly grads who will join the team. I got an offer which was more than double my current salary so of course I accepted.
One year into the project, I was selected to be part of the onshore team and will be assigned at the client’s site in the eastern part of the US, an hour drive away to New York. I was so excited that I will finally have a chance to travel overseas.
I spent a year on the project and also got the chance to explore places like New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Virginia.
I Finally Realized My Dream
My US project ended successfully and I had to come home to Manila. A few months later, I was selected to join another SAP project which will be based in Los Angeles, California and the client was an big entertainment company. During that time, I also got an offer from another company to join their newly assembled SAP project team and wanted me to lead it.
But I just couldn’t pass on this opportunity. Who would? It’s LA, and Disneyland is here! So I accepted the project and lived in Los Angeles for two years and of course I managed to visit Disneyland more than twice during my time there.
I fulfilled my childhood dream, but I don’t wanna stop there. I really love to travel and this time, I want to visit Japan, Korea, Europe and Australia.
Moved to Lion City, Lots of Travel Thereafter
I experienced burnout spending insane hours at work. A few of my close friends have left the company and moved overseas. I got a job offer from the Singapore regional office of a company which makes home and consumer electronics products that’s four times my current salary. It’s an offer that’s very hard to refuse, at the same time I wanted a change of working environment.
Since then, I moved to two other companies and I was sent to Sweden for four months to work on a big SAP project. During my time in Sweden, I managed to tour around some countries in Europe like Germany, Norway, Denmark, France and The Netherlands.
A Recession Proof Industry
A year later, I got an offer to lead the SAP Technical Team of a project based in Tokyo, Japan. This was an internal project of a global healthcare company.
I stayed in this company and joined the global team based in Germany. Lots of travel within Asia and Europe. I have since resigned and now works as an external consultant of this same company while being based in Australia.
Looking back, I didn’t want to do SAP programming because of my arrogance and thinking that VB and Java are the best programming languages. I could safely say that I have no regrets that I entered the SAP world. I fulfilled lots of dreams because of it.
Most importantly, I made a lot of friends and Jov was one of them. At first, he was this aloof guy who won’t have lunch with us. Later on, him and I just connected. We’ve learned that we have so much things in common, lots of common friends and I even learned he was from the same university. Check out his story here.
We’ve known each other for more than 6 years now and after plenty of dialogues about our dreams and aspirations, we’ve decided to join forces and share what we know to the world.
Disclaimer: The photo above is not my portrait.
Image credit goes to Kevin N. Murphy on FLICKR.