Fearghal Ryan of SAP talks about his career to date, what he studied at school and college, and what it’s like working in SAP’s Primary Support Team
Why I picked engineering
I became interested in physics and geography during Transition Year, and by the time I got to my Leaving Cert I had realised that Engineering would be a very good fit for me.
I picked the General Engineering Degree in Trinity College Dublin as my first choice, because it would give me a foundation in a wide range of engineering disciplines – Computers and Civil, Electronic and Mechanical – and expertise in one.
Studying at Trinity
I chose Civil, Structural and Environmental as my speciality, a topic area that was relatively broad, but that allowed me to focus on some of my interests, such as energy.
During this time I picked up some great work experience, including a summer in the sun with the Croatian Energy Institute on an IAESTE Technical Internship.
By the time I graduated in 2009, I had developed strong technical and analytical skills, highly valued by any employer, but the downturn was under way and jobs were harder to come by. This may have been a blessing in disguise, as I ended up getting the opportunity of a lifetime.
In August 2009 I received the inaugural Naughton Fellowship to study in the US, at the University of Notre Dame, for a new Master’s in Engineering, Science and Technology Entrepreneurship.
Even though Notre Dame has fewer students than Trinity, the institution has tremendous resources – they even have an 80,000 seat American Football stadium on campus for the college team, nicknamed the Fighting Irish (who recently played a game against Navy in Dublin in the Aviva Stadium).
The Masters course gave me hands-on experience of start-up companies, and brought the versatility I had from my Engineering degree to a whole new level. At the end of the year, I was ready for a new challenge.
Then I decided to take a leap of faith and move to San Diego. When I arrived, the only two people I knew in Southern California were over 100 miles away in Los Angeles!
But that didn’t stop me, and with patience and persistence I was able to land a job with Qualcomm, a world leader in Mobile Technologies. My position was as a Data Analyst for the production of mobile phone chips.
A very technical position, I was far outside of my comfort zone, yet in time I got up to speed in the new role. This was my first full-time job after college, yet I always knew that I would come back home to Ireland.
Returning home and SAP
In December 2011, having worked with Qualcomm for 12 months, I made the move back to Ireland. I knew that there were vacancies in the ICT industry in Ireland, and with the versatility and technical skills that I gained from my Engineering degree and my time in the US, I knew that I could find a position here.
I became friendly with a number of the career advisers in Trinity College, and I was later introduced to recruiters from SAP, which was sponsoring the Careers Week in Trinity in February.
A friend had worked with SAP before as an intern, so I knew they were the largest enterprise software company in the world, and a really great place to work. After an initial meeting on campus, I was later called for interview, and was successful.
Three weeks later, in mid-April 2012, I started as a Support Consultant in the Primary Support Team.
SAP Primary Support is a global organisation of more than 2,000 people, who handle customer support incidents, provide proactive services, and share knowledge with customers about SAP software.
The Dublin team, which I am a part of, is one of 10 around the world, including Brazil, the US, Austria and China.
My focus is currently on Project Management Software, an area that I was familiar with as a result of studying engineering, and each day I work remotely with a number of customers who are having a range of issues with their software.
My role is once again a change from what I had done previously, yet the technical and soft skills that I gained through my Engineering degree and from the US, have helped me to make a smooth transition.
Opportunities at SAP
One of the things that I like the most about SAP is that the company provides you with a wide variety of opportunities, both in terms of day to day work, and longer term career moves.
The company encourages you to do what you enjoy and explore new areas, and there are a huge number of interesting projects to get involved in.
SAP is a massive company, with almost 60,000 employees globally, so if you are interested in working abroad, there are plenty of opportunities, particularly after you get some experience here.
SAP is also growing at a phenomenal rate, especially in databases, mobile, and the cloud, so you always know that there will be something new to work on!