Sunday, February 21, 2010

Career Break & Women in Technology - The Big Issue!

I've been asked a question from one of my Blog readers which I could not ignore. The question represents a bigger issue about the social responsibility of organizations and people, in general. Actually, this is not something that affects only women but also the families; you, me and the society . What exactly are we doing about it and is that enough?

It's not just about the Organizations or thought-leaders but everyone need to understand, encourage and provide opportunities for women who are looking forward to re-start their career after a necessary and justifiable break.

Recently, I found some articles and blogs about the discrimination women face in their career and what could be their response. Also, there have been a few complaints about little or no representation of women in technology conferences. Unfortunately, the main concern and the bigger issue is still left unattended.

There have been a few local initiatives like Women in Technologies, Tata Group's second career opportunity, and other such programmes by a few organizations but this is something that should be genuinely addressed by most organizations and in every part of the world.

Moving ahead with the question:
Ram, I come from an engineering background and have worked in the SAP ABAP field for almost 6 years, including overseas. I then took a 4 year break to look after my new-born child and now would like to re-enter the workforce, preferably in SAP. I did look into pursuing SAP ABAP certification, but it seems like I am not qualified for the same since I neither have recent work-exp; nor am I enrolled in any of the registered SAP training centers.

Any advice/tips on how to re-start my SAP ABAP career and get back into the workforce will be very much appreciated!
[ name removed ]
First of all, My apologies for not being able to reply to many career related queries from my blog-readers. Blame it on my personal and professional commitments and also my inability to answer some of your questions. But this question, in particular, is part of a very important issue so I would like to post it on my Blog, hoping others in IT field will chip-in and try to find some answers or initiatives.

I am hoping that someone more capable will pick this and provide some further guidance and initiatives to tackle the bigger issue but here is some of my suggestion for this specific question:

Some of the suggestions in my old posts on SAP Career can still be relevant so please have a look.

Re-build and enhance your skills in your chosen area of technology:
Since you already have a lot of experience in ABAP programming, I don't think it would be very difficult to refresh your ABAP and general IT/Soft skills through self-learning. As you might be aware, SAP and ABAP is no longer only procedural and SAPGUI related programming language. I would suggest you buy a few good books on ABAP Objects, BSP, ABAP WebDynpro, Web Services and at least get some basic understanding of the new areas. If you don't have prior experience of web-development then a basic knowledge of Web technologies [ HTTP/HTML/CSS/XML etc. ] will be beneficial before moving ahead with SAP Web Development. I wrote about this earlier . You should be able to find a lot of information on web regarding basic web technologies. In short :
  • You must have a SAP Netweaver system to practice your programming skills, so I suggest you install SAP NetWeaver Developer Edition. You can download it from SDN.
  • Get some good SAP Programming Books. I've not read these but other consultants have given good reviews to the these books:
    • ABAP Objects by Horst Keller
    • Next Generation ABAP Development by Rich Heilman & Thomas Jung
    • If you already have one then ABAP/4 in 21 days is a nice book to understand the basics of the ABAP procedural programming, data types, DDIC , functions etc. It does not contain the advance and OO part but I would still recommend the book to a beginner. 
  • Not to mention there are some nice blogs on SDN for the beginners in ABAP OO, ABAP WebDynpro, Web Services etc. Here is a link for one such blog series.ABAP Trial Version for Newbies :
Build your online and offline Network:
  • Discuss with your ex-colleagues and friends. Ask for assistance regarding your career and job-search.
  • Once you have done some ground work on your skills then update your CV and distribute to some major job sites and your personal connections. 
  • Update your LinkedIn profile and connect with SAP and recruitment consultants as well SAP communities.
  • Get active on forums like SDN to learn and contribute. This will not only help you with your self-learning but also in building professional connection with others, who might be able to help you in your job-search.
  • You should also use twitter to connect with some of the smartest SAP consultants & Mentors who can guide you further. I particularly recommend to follow @jonerp , @marilynpratt and SAPMentors .
To my Blog Readers:
My response is more of a place-holder and any further suggestions/comments on this topic will be much appreciated. I've seen this issue very closely. Luckily, though it took some time but my wife got a job after the career break. 


  1. Thanks so much, Ram - I just now read your response to my question and yes, it seems like I am already following your suggestions with regards to updating my skills.

    I will definitely build my online and offline Network as your suggested and hope that will enable me to start again in my SAP career.

    Thanks once again!

  2. Hi Ram,

    Chaith here.
    That's a very nice thought about women's career.

    For some time now I have been wondering about using AGILE Software model in SAP Implementation projects.
    Could you please throw some of your thoughts on this?


  3. For generations the term “women’s intuition” has been used to describe the unexplainable, non-logical, sometimes quirky wisdom that women often possess. No one quite knows how or why intuition works. But it does. I would like to share a bit of my experience since i visited this website. As this site said, Act as if your highest expectations have already happened. Hope it'll help boost you confidence especially in job-searching.

  4. All good points, Ram. While not specific to job-searching in the SAP area, I interviewed a bunch of experts in this area, and one of the things that came up in conversations was that many resumes simply don't reflect the person's strengths accurately, because little work has gone into understanding them. So, asking for a second opinion on your resume and strengths, maybe from an ex-boss or colleague, is a good thing to do. Some more tips are available here:

  5. Hi.. I have 6 years of experience in development and team management. I took 3 yrs of career break for my child but now want to get back to job. I clear many interviews but employers don't seem to be interested in selecting me because of my career break. I do not understand how to go about my job search. I have started learning a foreign language in the meantime. Could you please guide me. I was into Data warehousing / Business Intelligence field earlier. Please let me know the options for a candidate like me to get back into IT job.


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