Inquired – Interview with Christian Quack,
IT Manager at the SAP Competence Center for
Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH (RWM),
Weapon and Ammunition Division.
What expectations do you have of your new staff member?
We are looking for employees who come with a high level of service orientation, are willing to assume responsibility, and want to play an active role in shaping the company. They should also have fun taking on new projects and responsibility for (sub)projects and want to continue developing and learning and work hard. Those things are important to us.
First and foremost, we are looking for generalists who have both acquired knowledge of business administration and gained experience in IT or business IT alignment, especially SAP ERP and BW.
They should possess the following skills:
- Ability to work with departments to refine business processes and help map them in the various systems
- Drive problem solving, which means they must possess a distinctly analytical way of thinking and a strong grasp of strategic concepts
- Strong communication skills and empathy in order to recognize needs and to convey knowledge and expertise to non-IT staff members, which means didactic skills are essential
- Project management experience would be an advantage
When you examine your area of responsibility, what makes IT, particularly the field of SAP, especially interesting to potential applicants?
Many new and exciting information technologies, in particular those from SAP, are just around the corner. Now, our aim is to implement and actively use them as part of our ongoing operations (see section on “exciting challenges”).
I am certain that any applicant would find it exciting to have the chance to optimize current business processes with the aid of various tools, including those from SAP, thereby also improving the success of the company if possible. It is wonderful that we have the opportunity today to contribute to a shift the direction we have been heading in the area of IT – from a rather decentralized structure to a centralized “IT@Rheinmetall.” It is also an honor.
Being part of a major project, making a difference, contributing to the success of the company, and experiencing personal development are what make working for us so attractive.
What exciting challenges/projects are you expecting for 2018 and the next few years?
Mainly, we need to address the issue of continuing globalization within the Rheinmetall Group. That means we will be extremely busy over the next few years incorporating existing companies, as well as new ones outside Germany, into our IT infrastructure. We have set ourselves the goal of developing our own SAP standards at Rheinmetall. For example, we want to create SAP templates with applicability throughout the company. That will enable new companies to be integrated into our “Rheinmetall world” more quickly. Doing that takes people with both a knowledge of business and intercultural communication skills.
In addition, we are planning a number of projects, including these:
- Migration and transformation of our SAP ERP systems to the new SAP ERP S/4HANA
- Migration and transformation of our SAP BW systems to the new SAP BW/4HANA
- Support for possible system consolidation
- Introduction of SAP BO (Business Objects) and set-up of KPI dashboards
- Establishment of an integrated, uniform production and sales planning platform for the Defence sector, possibly including the establishment of a project and order-controlling system using SAP BW BPC (Business Objects Planning and Consolidation)
- Set-up of a new central SAP SRM system (Supplier Relationship Management)
So, we have a lot in the pipeline. We are doing this not only for and here at our location, but for the entire Group. To accomplish these tasks, we need additional motivated employees. Come along for the ride, and help us along this exciting path!
How would you describe Unterlüss? What defines life in the Lüneburg Heath region for you?
With its 1,600 employees between the two Rheinmetall companies of Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH and Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH, Unterlüss is now the largest site within the Defence sector. Unterlüss is also the headquarters of the Weapon and Ammunition Division.
Unterlüss has been seeing constant growth in its infrastructure for many years now. For instance, we just recently built a new administration building with a new cafeteria. Moreover, the working conditions here are excellent, and the workstations feature state-of-the-art equipment.
Though Unterlüss is rural, quiet, and quaint, it has a lot to offer. If you enjoy nature, you can pursue many outdoor activities and really take a break far away from the stress. The site offers an attractive sports program, health management, and flexible working hours.
You can easily travel to nearby cities such as Hanover, Hamburg, Uelzen, Lüneburg, and Celle by train or car. Some time ago, Rheinmetall even made arrangements to have employees transported from the train station to the plant with a free shuttle bus.
Please briefly introduce yourself. When did you begin working for the Rheinmetall Group, and what path has your career taken since then?
I am 46 years old, and I have been working for the Rheinmetall Group since 1999. I am in charge of the SAP Competence Center for Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH (RWM) within the Weapon and Ammunition Division.
After I earned my degree in economics, I started as an assistant to the head of the mechanical production department. Following several additional positions, I switched to the order management department in 2002, where I became a team leader. In that role, I was able to assume responsibility and make a big difference from the very beginning. For instance, I was heavily involved in establishing and developing a sales and production planning database, which is now being used throughout the Weapon and Ammunition Division. At the moment, we are preparing to relaunch that database for the entire Defence sector. In other words, we are going to reinstall it now using SAP BW BPC with new features and roll it out for the entire Defence sector. I must admit, that makes me a little proud!
I also discovered my affinity for IT thanks to that project. In 2007, it enabled me to switch to the business IT alignment department as an expert. As a project manager on a large variety of IT projects, I gained a lot of experience, including by establishing the SAP BW Management Information System that we are currently using.
In 2016, I then took over as head of the department. My team and I are responsible, among other things, for operating and continuously developing the SAP systems we use. We see ourselves as internal consultants and proactively support the various departments in further developing their relevant business processes and mapping them in our IT systems.
How would you describe your approach to work? What makes you tick, and what do you love about your job?
The scope of my job offers a wide variety. No two days are the same, and I never get bored. I truly appreciate that. What’s more, there are always new subjects for us to familiarize ourselves with. So, that means my team and I are constantly learning new things, which also helps us to continue growing as individuals.
Part of my team is spread out across other locations in a decentralized fashion. We use various channels to collaborate successfully – for example, Web or teleconferences, but we also try to meet regularly at one location from time to time, mostly in Unterlüss in order to force face-to-face discussion between the team members. To me, personally, that is still very important and, in my view, absolutely essential. The insight we gain at other locations can only benefit us. That is because every individual site continues to have a life of its own, so to speak. That can be extremely challenging for projects conducted across multiple locations, but it can also make them highly interesting and offer some variety.
I find the diversity of the people with whom we have contact and come in contact to be highly enriching. We interact with different departments and manage external IT service providers and consulting firms. Together, we form one large team with many personalities.
The members of my team all work extremely independently. Results are what counts. Everyone is given the leeway to organize their work packages, which are, if possible, adapted to match their approach to working.
Working creatively as a team is extremely important for the tasks we perform. That’s why we allow every member of the team to retreat from the sometimes hectic daily business, if need be, in order to concentrate and study a (new) subject without any distractions.
How has Rheinmetall helped you personally along your career path?
Since I joined the company, I have been able to take advantage of the wide range of professional development courses that the Rheinmetall Group offers. Together, my supervisors and I determined what would help me advance personally and professionally while also benefiting the company. The Rheinmetall Academy offers some first-class options for doing that.
I was mainly impressed with the RWM Young Managers Program (MNP) and the Management Leadership Program (MLP) that builds on the former. Those two programs prepared me very well for my leadership role.
Employees have been and still are also allowed to attend symposiums, conferences, and seminars. The company even welcomes it so that they can learn about new trends in IT, for example.