Joakim Schepens started working at delaware in 2009. Fresh out of university – he studied Business Engineering – Joakim was hired as an SAP consultant and focused mainly on warehousing processes. A few years later, he switched to the FAST Solution, which adopts a more template-based implementation approach. Joakim found himself a spot at delaware that allows him to combine his operations management skills and his love for technology: “I wanted to broaden my horizon, focus on the business processes as a whole, and start implementing projects for smaller and mid-sized companies, which I prefer, actually.”
With delaware at the forefront of digital innovation, it didn’t take long for the company (and for Joakim) to move up – to the cloud, to be exact. Joakim was one of the first to jump on the cloud bandwagon: “As part of an internal project squad, I was able to convince delaware to add more cloud-based solutions. We now have a dedicated solution for SAP Cloud ERP.” Together with a group of like-minded colleagues, Joakim was able to set up a young and dynamic team. “At the beginning of 2018, there were three of us. Now, we are nineteen!” Joakim proudly adds.
Especially during a cloud migration project, a consultant needs to earn the client’s trust. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach: every implementation is as unique as the company itself,” Joakim explains. Luckily, all cloud consultants have formed a close-knit team. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s work-related or not - I can talk to anyone about any concern and vice versa. There’s no such thing as hierarchy in our team.”
Joakim continues: “We actually prefer calling ourselves business process consultants rather than IT consultants. We’re all genuinely interested in understanding the business processes from A to Z.” The entire team regularly meets to discuss ongoing projects, or just have a drink together. Having built a satisfied customer base is great, but actually, it has brought Joakim great joy to see his team grow. “It makes me so happy to see how they have become the great consultants they are today. In one way or another, I hope to have contributed to their growth.”
Joakim will always remember the projects that required travelling abroad: “We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs, like any team. When you can share those while being in a hotel somewhere in Europe, you definitely bond.” Joakim is grateful for the opportunities delaware has offered him: “I really appreciate how committed delaware is to the continuous improvement of its employees.”
To conclude, Joakim wanted to give future delaware consultants some advice:
1. Stay true to yourself: Don’t lose yourself trying to be the perfect consultant. (Fact: the perfect consultant doesn’t exist).
2. Take your career into your own hands: Take initiative! Entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship is one of our core values.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Your colleagues will always give you an answer.
After almost 20 years as a purchasing and project manager at a European market leader in textile floor coverings, Christophe Popelier made the switch to consultancy. “I found myself at a career crossroads: I could either stay in Business or I could do something completely different. Friends and colleagues told me I’d make a great consultant – and here I am”. Neither delaware nor SAP were new to Christophe.
“I do know a thing or two about SAP, but I’m not a technical consultant,” Christophe adds. “I do have an analytical mind, which allows me to take a helicopter view of how a business is managed.” During his first project assignment at a customer site in Louvain-la-Neuve, Christophe managed the purchasing processes in SAP. He was supposed to temporarily replace a co-worker for six weeks. “But you know what? Those six weeks have turned into three years now,” he laughs.
Initially, it took some time getting used to his new role as a consultant. “Being on the other side of the fence, I didn’t have the decision-making powers I used to have,” Christophe explains. “They sometimes underestimate consultants.” There are no quick-wins in consultancy; it’s only when a project is completed, that the consultant gets a pat on the back. “I have to convince the customer that I understand the ins and outs of their business.” After all, Christophe can rely on his many years’ experience in the industry.
When asked what he loves the most about being a consultant, without hesitation, Christophe says: ”The freedom, the flexibility and being able to work from home. If I want to go for a bike ride at noon, I can. It’s all a matter of planning.” When it comes to problem-solving, Christophe believes in a process-oriented approach: “I see the flow and the ‘why’, not the ‘how’. The ‘how’ is the technical side of the story.” Is this mindset part of how Christophe makes the difference for delaware?
“I cannot change my mindset – and delaware doesn’t expect me to,” Christophe explains. “I’ve walked several miles in the customer’s shoes and I know that my background is of value to the company.”
For those who are thinking of switching to consultancy, Christophe wants you to consider this:
1. Don’t change who you are: the company hires you for who you are.
2. Speak up: don’t be afraid to put forward your solution to the problem.
3. …but also know when to shut up: a good consultant will listen carefully to determine what the customer’s problem is.