Some skilled expatriates in Malaysia are at the point of achieving lifetime career contributions to the country's Digital Malaysia drive, which is being promoted by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) as well as other government agencies.
When I was wearing an earlier hat as human resources strategy consultant with one of the global firms, I often heard the phrase about "employees are the lifeblood of an organisation." Thousands of HR departments around the globe tout lists of initiatives they're passionate about implementing because they believe they can improve retention, engagement, ramp time and so on.
Yet it's often forgotten that loyalty works both ways. With my Computerworld Malaysia hat on, I recently spoke to one expatriate who shed some light into what it was like to work for the same company for close to three decades: Hans-Juergen Mikudim, who is currently Chief Engineering Architect at the enterprise solutions provider SAP Malaysia.
Hans was born in Heidelberg, Germany but lived in Waldorf, a town in the state of Baden-Württemberg, until 1993. Perhaps it was the fact that Waldorf is the headquarters of SAP that led to him joining as employee number 838 in 1989.
Throughout his career in SAP, Hans has played various roles in the company, including as system analyst, SAP Technology Consultant, SAP Manager Technical Consulting, Support Manager, Director Support, Head of Mission Control Centre, South East Asia.
In 1992, Hans came to Malaysia for an assignment with Petronas and formally joined SAP Malaysia in July 1993, making him today SAP Malaysia's longest serving employee.
"My wife Mastura is Malaysian and we're here now with our two children," Hans said. "I find that Malaysia agrees with me in many ways. The weather, people and especially the food! I do love spicy food and certainly the fine durians that are available so easily here."
Tough initial start
Reflecting on his early days with SAP, Hans mentioned the difficulties faced at the time. Before the age of the Internet, Hans said that there were no such things as "easy to demonstrate" systems.
Photo - SAP Malaysia's longest serving employee, Chief Engineering Architect Hans-Juergen Mikudim, with Managing Director Terrence Yong.
"There was no such thing as downloading or demo systems so when there is a demo to be done, we had to ask IBM for the machine before installing the application, while consultants had to make the necessary configurations to get the demo done. The effort put in those days were crazy!" he said.
Due to that reason, Hans found himself travelling a great deal. "One interesting thing about SAP is that when you think you are done, it gets more exciting. I recall once when I was even sent to Pakistan for a few months."
Yet even when internet accessibility started to take off, Hans felt that in those early days there were still quite many limitations. At the time, a common issue faced was "fat client applications versus limited network bandwidths".
"Technology as you know is extremely fluid so we were faced with all the obstacles that were expected. Bandwidth, proprietary protocols, the shift from 32-bit to 64-bit computing. The list was endless," he added.
Growing with the family
Having spent almost his entire career at SAP, Hans was understandably vocal in his support for the company. Since its early days, the company has also evolved from a technology company to a being a major global solutions provider today.
"When we reflect on ourselves, we often do not think quite so much in the sense that we are a company doing X things. We have a vision and that vision is not just to sell products. We want to improve lives and make the world a better place," he said.
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