Young, resourceful, and motivated, Mohammed Almutairi doesn’t tolerate boredom easily. In his work as an SAP Ariba specialist at Tasnee, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest industrial companies and one of the world’s largest producers of titanium dioxide, Almutairi combines his SAP technical skills with his natural talent for working with people as he supports the business in post go-live activities.
“I like the project environment because of the ongoing activities and working with the business,” he says. “Every day there is a new thing. This is something I really enjoy with working in implementation in an SAP environment.”
For Almutairi, 25-years-old and recently graduated from George Mason University in the U.S. with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering, such opportunities to engage with people and use his refined problem-solving skills are a welcome change. Like many young people with newly minted diplomas, Almutairi entered into a tight job market that afforded few entry points.
“I thought it would be a piece of cake to nail a job – but it wasn’t. I knocked on so many doors. I did a little bit of programming; I read books,” he says, recalling his post-graduation days in Riyadh. “There’s this frustration that grows. I had the urgency to do something.”
To stave off boredom and earn money, Almutairi traded in his beloved Mustang for a four-door sedan and became an Uber driver. He says, “It was a good way to get to know the city, meet wonderful people, and get some pocket money.”
One day Almutairi gave a ride to a consultant from Turkey, who he picked up at the local SAP office. In discussing Almutairi’s struggles in the job market, the man suggested he apply to the SAP Young Professionals program, a training and enablement program that equips recent university graduates with SAP skills and certifications suited to the local business environment.
The SAP Young Professionals program is a free-of-charge initiative for unemployed and underemployed youths to give them globally recognized associate-level SAP certifications as well as soft skills to begin a career as an associate consultant at SAP. Graduates of the intense two-to-three month program benefit from introductions to job opportunities within the SAP ecosystem to help them secure a position.
The SAP Young Professionals program was launched by the SAP Training and Development Institute in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA), a region with a high level of youth unemployment, where it can be very difficult for young people to find suitable work despite having excellent educational credentials. The program now runs in 22 countries across the globe, with 2,132 graduates to date. The SAP certifications that the graduates attain are suited to the demand in the local markets for SAP-related skills. Graduates of the program almost always stay within the SAP ecosystem, where they have a competitive edge with their certifications and training on the latest SAP innovations.
“Today, one in two people on the planet is under the age of 30. The first ‘always connected’ generation, millennials, are the best-educated in history but are still affected by high unemployment rates. At the same time, all organizations are becoming increasingly reliant on advanced technical skills in the emerging digital economy,” says Marita Mitschein, managing director of the SAP Training and Development Institute, and senior vice president of Digital Skills for EMEA South at SAP.
“Starting off with an idea to create value in the MENA region and for the MENA region, we established a host of programs tailored to bring SAP business skills to unemployed or underemployed talents, who have a cultural and social understanding of the region,” Mitschein says, detailing the impetus of the program. “Under the umbrella of the SAP Training and Development Institute are initiatives that empower rising talents on SAP’s latest innovations, thus helping them to kick-start their tech careers within the ecosystem of SAP customers and partners. At the same time, the institute supports SAP customers and partners by providing them access to SAP-skilled top talents to satisfy their hiring demand.”
Under the umbrella of the SAP Training and Development Institute, the SAP Young Professionals program is part of Learning for Life, a global initiative that signals SAP’s commitment to building an inclusive, skilled workforce to power the intelligent enterprise. With a portfolio of more than 30 digital literacy programs, Learning for Life opens opportunities and changes people’s lives by ensuring everyone — regardless of age or background — has the relevant skills to thrive, innovate, and secure meaningful work in a digital world.
Although Almutairi had no prior knowledge of SAP, he decided to apply to the program with the understanding that there were no guarantees that he would find an SAP-related job afterward. He also understood that to succeed in the program meant he would have to dive headlong into the world of enterprise IT, a very different environment from the engineering field he had studied for.
Following a rigorous selection process that included an evaluation of hard as well as soft skills, Almutairi was chosen for the SAP Young Professionals program. “After I got into SAP, my life has completely changed,” he says. “I had to trust the process and work very hard.”
The training was taught by SAP experts and consultants who had profound knowledge of the subject matter and were able to properly support Almutairi and his peers in the cohort through the learning process. Almutairi says that although the training was challenging in its pacing, he found it to be manageable because the deep-dive technical sessions were broken up with sessions on design thinking and business model innovation, as well as further soft skill development trainings. Recalling his first lessons on SAP Ariba and SAP SuccessFactors, he says, “The minute I started the program, I knew this was the right step to a career.”
A hallmark of the SAP Young Professionals program is the ongoing positive feedback from SAP customers and partners about the dependable quality of the graduates once they are placed in their new jobs.
“SAP Young Professionals was created on the foundation of a highly unique collaborative effort, wherein we have always worked closely with SAP customers, partners, and peers to deliver our programs successfully and create a triple-win situation,” says Mitschein. “At first, most corporates hesitate to hire fresh graduates and it requires convincing to make employers understand the value young talents and the millennial mindset can bring into their corporations. Once employers start hiring out of our talent pool, they realize the value, which is proven by an extraordinary placement rate of 99 percent.”
Almutairi quickly found a job as a consultant with a local SAP partner firm after achieving his certifications on SAP Ariba Procurement and SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central. He later made the transition to working in-house for SAP customer Tasnee.
His manager, Mansour Siddiqui, in Global Supply Chain Management Solution SCM/SD, Functional Business Solutions, IT Support Functions at Tasnee, speaks highly of the quality of graduates like Almutairi. “I can say with all pride, SAP Young Professionals has empowered Mohammed Almutairi by giving him comprehensive functional knowledge about SAP Ariba. Moreover, the SAP training program further added value by training him on design thinking, presentation skills, communication skills, and other soft skills to work effectively and efficiently during the Tasnee/SAP Ariba project implementation, in my opinion,” he says, noting in addition, “Companies struggle to find fresh graduates who can jump start in the beginning of their career and this is where SAP Young Professionals is adding value to the community.”
Graduates of the SAP Young Professionals program are forthcoming in expressing their appreciation for the opportunity to gain marketable skills and move ahead into their careers. “I am really grateful to the SAP team,” says Almutairi. “They definitely have given us a ticket and opened a door for us. They really prepared us to go beyond that door and explore a really good career.”
For now, Almutairi has plenty of rewarding work to keep him busy. As his career takes off and he establishes a new life as a working professional, he will perhaps one day find time again to devote to outside interests. Will he try to buy back his Mustang? He’s thought about that, but his taste in cars has evolved. He responds, “I have a plan to get a classic Mustang, maybe a 1967 or something like that.”
Watch this video to hear how Mohammed Almutairi describes his experience with the team from the SAP Young Professionals program.