Building our SAP security team is a great challenge that allows me to grow

| minutes read

Having worked for ten years as an SAP Developer and Technical Consultant, Gilles Doyen gladly took up the offer to build an SAP security team at Sopra Steria Benelux. “At the time the offer came, I felt like I’d kind of seen it all,” he recalls. “So this interesting new challenge arrived at exactly the right moment for me.”

Your current job title is SAP Technical and Security Consultant. But you were mainly hired to build out an entirely new team within Sopra Steria’s fast-growing Benelux branch and to develop the associated new services offering. What can you tell us about that twofold challenge?

“The first thing you need to know is that the SAP business is really important for Sopra Steria, both in the Benelux and on the larger, European level. And the same goes for our security business. Our management felt, however, that there was a gap in our offering where both these businesses meet and cross. Therefore it was decided to create a new team from scratch that would be focusing fully and exclusively on SAP security. It could start by providing security audits and penetration tests to raise awareness of customer needs and potential issues in this specific domain. From there we could then further develop this new services portfolio.

At the beginning of 2021, I was hired, based on my extensive expertise and experience with SAP, to put together this dedicated new team and create the necessary services to go with it. This requires me, first and foremost, to find and recruit people who are able to assess the security of SAP systems. Not from within the actual SAP application itself, mind you, but from the point of view of an attacker who has somehow managed to gain network access to an organisation’s infrastructure. It is these attacks that we want to prevent for our customers.”

How do you go about recruiting these specific profiles? Apart from certain expertise or experience, what are you looking for exactly when you’re interviewing a potential new colleague?

“I look for two things in every potential candidate. First of all: motivation! In our line of business, working so closely with customers, we cannot afford to employ people who are not fully motivated. Secondly, I look at their ability to learn by themselves. At Sopra Steria, they will get lots of learning opportunities, either through formal training or on-the-job experience. And when they start their new job, I will of course be there to guide them along their way. However, I am not too keen on colleagues who keep coming up with the same questions over and over. So after a while, you really have to be good to go. Don’t misunderstand me, though: you can and absolutely must ask for help, if necessary. But first, you have to try and search by yourself. Google is your friend: not only is that one of the most popular mottos or sayings in our industry, but it’s also true. (smiles)

For me, these are the two key requirements for every applicant. If you possess both these qualities, you’re really fit to work in IT, without any problem. Finally, I also try to make sure that the people we hire have a positive mindset and fit in with the dynamic spirit of our SAP team.”

Before you joined Sopra Steria, you worked for a couple of other companies. Apart from the job itself, why do you like working here?

“The atmosphere in our SAP team is just awesome. From Pierre Blauwart, the SAP Director who recruited me, to my most junior colleague, everyone is great to work with. And this may sound a bit cliché, but that’s ultimately what drives me the most. I feel like I’m working among friends here. And that culture of friendship really makes all the difference.”

Check out our interview with one of the first recruits of Gilles’ SAP security team.

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