Market Integrity Specialist, SAP Ariba
I was born/grew up in: Colver, Pennsylvania, United States of America
I now live in: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America
I completed my training/education at: Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Describe what you do at work.
I provide technical and navigational support at a procurement software company. Procurement software allows an organization to automate the processes of buying materials and keeping an up to date inventory of goods. In my current role, I keep a watch over online auctions to make sure that no rules are being broken. I do this to make sure that suppliers don’t have an unfair advantage. It’s all about fairness and neutrality. I have to be able to manage customers and troubleshoot effectively and quickly. Online auctions are extremely time-sensitive and millions of dollars are often at stake in just one auction. Decisions must be made quickly, so I rely heavily on my training and my critical thinking skills.
Working closely with my teammates is a must since it’s a small team and our efforts are represented by our team, rather than individually. We rely on the skills and assistance of each other to make sure our job is done right. For example, I speak English, Spanish, French, and – at the intermediate level – Portuguese. And I understand enough of Italian, German, Swedish, Dutch, and Romanian, to understand the issue. As a result, auctions that fall within those regions are my responsibility. There are often times where we need to work together to get a critical issue resolved or to simply meet a client’s needs. Each team member, myself included, has several projects running at once that we have to manage in addition to our responsibility monitoring online auctions. All in all, my role involves being flexible and being able to communicate effectively with customers, as well as understand the software and troubleshoot major browsers.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
I love how varied and global my job is. I handle high-stress calls where billions of dollars could be at stake, but then I also get to work at my own pace (which usually ends up being fast) to complete other projects and tasks. Then I use that information to find ways to prevent the same issue from happening in the future. As a huge bonus, the online auctions that I help manage give me insight into trends regarding certain industries, countries, and regions. It has also helped me to learn business vocabulary for several languages.
What motivates you in your career?
This position, in particular, is a perfect fit for my skill set. It has a mix of quick, potentially stressful interactions and slower, lower key projects that keep me engaged and focused. On top of that, I am continuously learning. I get to use my language skills daily, and since I work with companies in so many different industries, I usually end up learning a couple new words per day that I never would have encountered otherwise. I’m also exposed to how companies in different industries run their businesses and obtain what they need. This, in turn, helps me to provide better service for clients. Since I understand what they need and how the technology works, I can combine those and give them – with confidence – the best possible solution.
For me, the thrill comes from the client’s reaction when they didn’t expect someone from my side to understand what they need, let alone provide an ideal solution. But that’s exactly what my teammates and I do, over and over again. From that point, I just build on the client’s trust and expectations with each passing interaction. Through this, I watch the client’s trust grow, their practices with the technology improve, and their delight abounds. Watching this process unfold and knowing that I was a key part in helping a company be able to run their business more efficiently is why I love going into work every day.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
When I was in high school, I never imagined that I would be doing something like this. At first, I wanted to be an interior designer, then I got better with computers, so it shifted to graphic design. Then I took my first-ever language course and that changed everything. Languages became my passion and I was convinced that I wanted to be a translator/interpreter. I double-majored in Spanish and French, studied abroad in Spain and France, and learned everything I could when I was in college.
When I graduated, I locked myself in my room for three days and applied to pretty much any job that had ‘Spanish’ or ‘French’ in the job description. A company in Newark, Delaware quickly got back to me, verified my language proficiency and then explained what they needed: Since I spoke English, Spanish, and French, they would teach me everything I needed to know about computers to do my job – which was essentially the equivalent of an Associate’s degree in Information Technology – for free. I was overwhelmed at first, but I stuck with it and soon became one of the top Analysts at the company. I volunteered for off-shifts that no one else wanted to work and used them to identify trends and find ways to prevent them. This led to me either creating or being added to several projects to improve the overall efficiency of the Service Desk. When I decided I wanted to relocate, this knowledge and experience allowed me to not only land a job at SAP Ariba, but also to quickly advance to a position that I truly enjoy.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy reading, whether for pleasure or self-development, hiking, biking, tumbling, and trampoline. I consistently volunteer through SAP’s volunteer programs and I also play on the SAP soccer team. Occasionally, I also do some freelance translation and/or interpretation work.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Adopt the mentality of a lifelong learner. The world changes at a rapid pace and you have to be able to change with it. Beyond that, if you’re like me and you’re interested in “soft arts” like languages and communications, the world will try to push you away from these fields and solidly into STEM. Don’t let them. Instead, find a way to combine your “soft skills” with a STEM industry. Ultimately, you will become more valuable than someone who has concentrated solely on STEM because the true demand is for people that can bridge that gap between the STEM-focused folks and the rest of the world.