In Conversation: Kam Rannobe (SAP BASIS Consultant)

After Kam graduated from La Trobe University in 2005, he came back to Botswana to try look for a job but couldn't find one. He then decided to go back to Australia to try his luck there. That leap of faith, difficult and challenging as it was in the beginning, has translated to an impressive 16-year career. In this interview, he talks about his inspirational career trajectory and more!

In your own words, tell us who Kam Rannobe is

Kamogelo Rannobe is an IT professional specialising in SAP BASIS and currently working as an SAP BASIS Consultant. I have been in the IT industry for the past 16 years across multiple roles. My other interests are in Cloud computing (AWS) and Web development. Outside IT, I have been involved with the Botswana Australia Victoria Association which is a community organisation aimed at bringing Batswana in the state of Victoria together and also connecting them with Botswana and Australia. I led the organisation as President in 2018 and continue to serve in its committee. I’m also a father of 2 girls.

Briefly take us through your journey to such an impressive career in tech

I started off working at Australia’s largest Telecommunications company Telstra where I worked as Technical Solutions support, working with Field Technicians. They would lay the network and I would activate the lines at the Data Activation centre. From then I went to work at Philip Morris which is an FMCG company mostly known for the production of cigarettes e.g Marlboro. There I worked at their Service Desk. I was then able to transfer to their SAP Team to work as SAP BASIS Consultant after completing a course in SAP BASIS. Beyond Philip Morris, I moved to Boeing Aerostructures Australia where I worked in a green-field project to replace their legacy ERP system with SAP. I currently work at Medibank Australia (Health Insurance Company) still in SAP BASIS.

What inspired you to pursue a career in tech?

When I was still in high school, I used to see a friend’s older brother who worked in IT; he had a company car and from a distance seemed to be doing very well. Simple but this was my first inspiration. Beyond this, I began to see the potential of IT to transform business and got drawn to Enterprise Resource Planning software. I discovered that these software can link most functional areas of a business to integrate the data and ensure that every part of the business has accurate and timely information. I was particularly captivated by SAP which I found had modules for almost all areas of the business i.e. Finance, HR, warehouse management, manufacturing intelligence, Customer Relationship Management, Supply Relation management etc. I saw ERP systems as the answer to revamping Botswana’s government process and the same for business in general.

Please tell us what your job entails

SAP BASIS is the foundation of SAP systems. These are the guys who do the technical design of an SAP Solution, install the software on servers, maintain its currency and also take care of the databases. They ensure that the system performs optimally at all times and may tune it at various levels to achieve this i.e. Application, database and server level.

You have been based in the diaspora for most of your career. What have been your experiences working in tech abroad?

Yes, I studied in Australia; on completing back in 2005, I went back to Botswana to look for work but could not find it. After 8 months of looking, I came back to Australia to try my luck here. In the beginning, it was not easy; I had imagined that after completing my Information Systems Degree I would land a job as a developer and grow my career from there. All the same, my initial jobs in the telecommunications and IT service desks respectively helped me appreciate most facets of Information technology and I continue to use this knowledge in every organisation that I’m in.

Working abroad has meant that the IT industry is more advanced. Companies are using the Trending Software or hardware that are available right now. For example, with the advent of the cloud, you would find that most companies that we work in would have their systems in the cloud or would be in the midst of getting their systems on one. Also, the organisations are into maintaining the currency of their tools hence as an IT professional you are at most times working on the latest tools. A lot is also invested in the IT and Telecommunications infrastructure and as such, the platforms we are working on are usually robust, meaning working from home and in the office is usually seamless.

Another thing with the diaspora is that these countries attract the best minds from all over the world. This means your colleagues are mostly experts in their field which makes the working environment very stimulating but also means you will have to perform at those levels as well.

If there have been any challenges, how have you been able to surmount them?

The first challenge is usually that you are on your own. There is no family and to survive that you will have to make friends and ensure that you have some sort of support.

You have to also immerse yourself in the culture as that will ensure that you are able to work with the locals and understand their ways of working.

The other challenge that I found as previously mentioned was breaking into a specialised area of IT. Without both IT and local experience, it was very hard to get into jobs that I wanted based on my level of education and what I qualified for. I decided that I would target service desk roles in companies that had the roles I wanted; that would allow me to interact with professionals in that space. I would also complete certifications and courses that would build my credibility in terms of skills required for my target roles. I did this by completing courses in Service management, Project management, SAP, Microsoft etc. Eventually that worked and I was able to get a job in SAP Basis.

On the other hand, what has been some upsides of being based abroad?

The upsides would be exposure. I have worked in the largest companies in the world and that has meant that I have worked with some of the best minds in the world and worked with the best tools.

It has also meant that I had to perform at the levels required in these companies which has grown me as a professional.

Compared to countries like Australia, Botswana’s IT adoption is what one could call archaic. What learnings do you think we can get from such countries to accelerate our tech adoption rate?

I can already see strides in the right direction especially with what has been happening at Botswana Telecommunications Corporation with the new Data Center that they built and their efforts to drive digitisation. There are also efforts at Botswana Innovation Hub in encouraging startups.

More efforts should be spent on digitising our government departments to make sure that their services are accessible online. Implementation of ERP systems should also be pursued at government level to make sure that the country’s resources are efficiently allocated and adequately tracked. SAP could be an option.

We should also ensure that we have the best people leading these technology projects. We do have a lot of talent in the country but if it means opening up our borders to attract the required talent we should. It’s not all about investment. The implementation of IT projects as well has to be done right. The architectures being implemented should be future proof.

Lastly, we need to continue improving our telecommunications infrastructure to a point where every Motswana has access to affordable internet. We cannot continue with the current practice where people can purchase credit bundles like MySocial to be used only for social media. This is robbing our people of the power of the internet; it keeps them wasting time with social media when their subscription could allow them to do further research that could improve their lives. 

Information Technology, which is the field you are in, is constantly and rapidly changing with new technologies being introduced. How do you ensure that your skillset always remains relevant?

You have to continue learning. I try to complete a certification now and then in a specific area that I want to work in. There are also online platforms these days that you can purchase courses for cheap e.g. Udemy.

Your career spans 16 years with 11 of those in your current field (SAP Basis consultancy). How do you keep yourself motivated to keep doing what you are doing for all these years?

Money is the first motivation; you have to pay bills. Apart from that, the field is interesting as the systems that we support are at the centre of businesses and you can always see the impact/importance of your efforts. Millions of transactions pass through SAP as such companies make sure they put the required investment in these systems and the resources supporting them.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Being given the opportunity to lead offshore SAP Basis resources has been a notable achievement for me.

What’s something you know now that you wish you knew earlier in your career?

I wish I had understood the power we have within us as individuals to determine our circumstances. We spend a lot of time waiting for approvals and direction from outside when we could with great faith plot our own path. With this knowledge, I would have navigated my professional life more effectively.  

What advice can you give to young people interested in pursuing a career in IT?

Once you have your degree, pursue competence and that may be by doing online courses. These days there are online courses on many topics on platforms such as Udemy. The main aim should be to gain practical knowledge rather than certificates. Once you have that knowledge, look for opportunities to create and showcase those creations as your employers would be looking to you to solve business problems with your skills rather than entries in your CV.

Lastly, please share with our readers your contact details in case they want to get in touch with you

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