Interview by Amber Christian, Founder – ConsultAce
The shared experiences. The moments- the pain, the laughter, the growth- it makes us come alive! We are planning the Super User Experience Event, #SEE17 – it’s not a conference, it’s an event to behold. Filled with the opportunity to network and wrestle with what it means to be a #SuperUser and a #SuperUser community. We breathe life into our #SuperUser communities. How can we deal with the challenges in order to make them vibrant and alive?
“We could be heroes, me and you….. ou ou……” by Alesso is echoing through my head after my interview with Gus. Honestly, I don’t remember any other line than the chorus, but that is the important part, right? For this week’s interview, we have international perspective, compassion, public and private sector experience- all of these are helpful context for the development of any Super User program. Gus embodies these qualities and maintains a delightful sense of humor. Smile along with me as you savor our latest interview with one of our #Superuser Experience Event, #SEE17, speaker/educators, Gus Lopes from HollyFrontier.
Gus, you’ve had a wide variety of roles over your career, including Business Analyst, Interface monitoring, Training Analyst and manager. With such a broad background, what is it that attracted you to become a Super User Leader?
“The very essence of Super User Communities is to bring together a group of individuals from different areas across the company. This is what Super User Leaders refer to when talking about ‘breaking the silos’ in an organization. I have always thought that my diverse professional background fit very well with the qualities needed to be an effective Super User Leader. Being able to discuss technical matters with functional teams and being able to ‘translate’ that information to the language the business speaks is something I acquired when performing systems training related roles. The exposure I have had to several different modules in SAP, such as HCM, SCM, FI-CO, SD etc. would only add to a broader understanding of the system as a whole and how the people responsible for those modules can work together. “
You’ve had experiences in both Brazil and the US over the course of your career. For the average SAP user, how are the challenges different in Brazil versus the US?
“Besides Brazil and the US I have also had the opportunity to work with SAP users in the UK, in Canada, in Japan and in Argentina. More than what differentiates these cultures I have always looked for what was similar amongst them. I eventually started referring to a ‘corporate world’ culture. With that in mind I have tried to navigate the opportunities (and challenges) presented in this ‘corporate world’. But if I had to point to one noticeable difference between SAP users in Brazil and the US specifically would be that the earlier puts a lot of emphasis on execution of tasks, and the latter excels on the planning part of a project.”
Tell us a little more about your secret sauce in building the super user program at HollyFrontier. Can you give us a little hint about what makes it so special?
“It all starts with selecting the right individuals. I am a big proponent for looking for true volunteers and staying away from individuals that might feel like they were ‘voluntold’ to participate in the program. That, for me, is a foundational aspect of a healthy program. From there the other aspect I pay a lot of attention to is preparation. I like to share a story with potential future Super Users when they are first presented to the program. My 8 year-old son, likes to ask me what my favorite super hero is. Because he is 8, it is a recurring question, even though my answer never changes. Batman, I say. This answer puzzles him. ‘But why Batman? He does not even have super powers, he can’t fly like Superman, he is not as fast as the Flash, he is just a regular guy,’ my son replies. Then I say: ‘That is exactly why he is my favorite super hero. He has TRAINED to become who he is. And he got so good at it that he can go face to face to a natural born super hero like Superman.’ My son looks at me and says: ‘Ok, I get it, but I still prefer the Incredible Hulk’.
I am strong believer of providing quality training to Super Users and I also expect them to spread the knowledge and train their end-users well.”
Can you tell us one of the funniest moments along the way to developing your program or something that really surprised you?
“I have had the honor of experiencing many touching moments during my time working with Super Users. Perhaps one of the most memorable ones wasn’t funny, but instead truly emotional. After a meeting where a group of Super Users talked about their plans for future activities and how to execute them, this Super User stayed behind and talked about how much she appreciated being part of the group. She shed some tears in contentment for being heard as a super user in the company and how much she had waited for that moment. That moment will forever stay with me as a reminder that working with people is a most rewarding part of my job.
But for a somewhat funny moment? I like the story of a technical training being delivered to a group of employees in the public sector. The training was about how to use an employee self-serve (ESS) system where employees would start entering their times. They would be using a web-based interface, a portal, so naturally we had to talk about internet browsers. This one guy, who worked on a remote location as a park ranger and was not familiar with IT systems or computers in general. He raised his hand and asked: ‘What is an internet browser’?
The point of this story is that there is a gap between the knowledge IT groups think users have, and what the business users really know. Super Users should keep in mind that, after all, among other things, they are responsible for closing the gap between what can sometimes be different realities, the IT world and the business world.”
And how about you? Which Super Hero User type of leader are you? What perspectives might you have to share with others in your community? Gus will be educating in a joint session with Constance Darnell, City of Dallas, where they will share their favorite “SAP Tips and Tricks” to make #SuperUsers more productive. Register here for Superuser Experience Event, #SEE17, October 26-27th! And stay tuned as we share more articles profiling the incredible talent presenting at #SEE17 – We SEE you! Check out the companies joining us this year.