Monday, 11 October 2021

Joel, You Would Love this #JoelKallmanDay

Today is  #JoelKallmanDay

Joel  was front and centre of the Oracle Community. When he left us, too soon, I shared this post that I wrote back in 2015 about his passion.

One line says "I believe people don't use APEX because they struggle to believe a 'no cost' option has value. Well Joel has launched his #LetsWreckThisTogether twitter campaign to get the message across and he is winning."

I joined Inoapps last month and quickly blogged about how I was now an end user of Oracle SaaS but that isn't the only Oracle used inhouse.

As a startup company Inoapps had used a lot of APEX and over a period of time created a company portal that houses a lot of their specific applications. Today the portal gives access to bespoke APEX applications, Oracle SaaS and Analytics Cloud that combines the data. 

A no-cost option with no value - definitely NOT!

Doesn't Scale - Rubbish!

Not suitable for corporate systems - Wrong!

Joel's legacy remains #LetsWreckThisTogether and together means community. 






Monday, 6 September 2021

A Not Unexpected but Under Estimated Bonus to Celebrate at Inoapps

Yes I have moved to Inoapps. I have shared why on LinkedIn but wanted to share my first excitement.

I've been involved in over 100 implementations of Oracle SaaS (Fusion), however small my involvement I share with everyone involved the excitement of go-live. 

Often there is great debate as to what is actually go-live, first user, first journal, first payroll run, each organisation and user has their own milestone to CELEBRATE. This is a really important word to me, no implementation comes without challenges and a system that is constantly evolving, even during the implementation is not for the faint hearted. Once a system has gone live, and after that initially sit back and relax, there are 2 things you need to do:

  • Remember Oracle SaaS will continue to evolve and if you don't plan for that and embrace it, then your system will go stale.
  • Celebrate. Look back and see how far you have come, what have you learnt about your organisation and the product. I like to share that story and am very proud of how many times I have encouraged or actually taken an organisation to Oracle Open World or UKOUG to share their story.
I knew Inoapps had implemented Oracle and are proud to be one of the first in UK. I didn't know how extensive that implementation was and what they had done since, but I was excited to become an end user. Many years ago I was an end user of E Business Suite and often drew from that in my early usergroup sessions. Oracle always talk about them drinking their own champagne.

My recruitment process for Inoapps was not direct so I wasn't surprised that I didn't touch Oracle Recruitment, but I did hope my onboarding would start in the system. I wasn't disappointed, not only are all the HR processes for collecting data and documents automated and self service but the information I need to absorb is in Oracle Learning. 




Oracle Recruitment went live recently which is great because there are big plans to grow the organisation and the systems are in place to make that as smooth and consistent as possible. 

Go Live is really important but being live is the end goal and I am now live as an end user at Inoapps.





Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Thank you to Accenture


Today is my last day at Accenture and I want to say an enormous thank you.

I joined Accenture as part of the Certus acquisition. I really agreed with the reasons why Accenture was chosen as the buyer when Tim Warner and Mark Sweeny sold (and yes there were many offers).

Accenture gave deep industry knowledge and change management; areas I have gained a lot of experience in. I have benefited from their rigorous processes, even when they frustrated me. I actually enjoyed the challenge of Quality Assurance and a big thank you to Szymon Lahutta and Kurt Hjelmeland.

My main masters were Sergis Peris  and Andreas Rømming who helped guide me in the early days, Szymon Wdowiak and Brandon Johnson, who trusted me and allowed me to do what I do.

A big thank-you to Andrea Cesarini who gave me the opportunity to create and lead the HCM practice in Europe; a fantastic community of great people.

Mentors headed by my great friend Julian Dontcheff along with Francesc MasJemma Ingham, Lucia Jarret, Fiona Clark, Carrie BrennanJennifer Bowman and Manon Bosma

Thank you to the Mental Health faculty who trusted me to join them; you will never know how much leading those sessions helped me personally in lockdown.

I also have to say thank you to Hayley Dobson, Ian Staff and Clark Kho who listened to me with my innovation tech ideas and helped make them a reality with Oracle Development.

To those I mentored, it was a privilege. 

Many, many more people to thank.

Almost 3 years on, I have acquired a lot more skills and ready to move to my next chapter next week. And yes it will still be Oracle.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Celebrating 25 Years working with Oracle Applications

I believe we should all stop from time to time and look back. I work in IT and there are always challenges but we need to look back and see how far we have come. Celebrate what we have achieved and learn from those challenges. This is why I love when organisations share their stories, through presentations, articles, award nominations, however they do it, the preparation makes them reflect on the achievement and hopefully thank all those who made it happen.

Time for my big look back.

Last week I had the privilege of mentoring young people being assessed for this year's Accenture Graduates intake. All of them were not born when I started working with Oracle Applications. I am officially old.

On April 1st 1996, I started one of the most exhilarating journeys of my life and I wouldn't change any of it.

It has been bumpy, in fact on that first day I was almost arrested. I don't exaggerate and I'll come back to that later.

I was working for CFM in Gloucester, which later was part of ICL becoming Fujitsu. I was looking for my next challenge and was offered several opportunities with promotion, but all closer to London which my family didn't want. Then I heard about a new practice in N Ireland that needed a support manager. I knew one person there David who had been on secondment in Gloucester, and he encouraged me. Then main motivation was my then husband, who was from N Ireland, so it wasn't such a left field idea.

The N Ireland Civil Service were one of Oracle's first E Business Suite customers in the UK and this practice was set up to support them, many having been TUPEd over from NICS.

The idea was I spent 4 weeks at Oracle doing a broad range of applications and technical training and then move to N Ireland and take up the role.


On that first day I drove to the Oracle Training Centre that was housed in Bracknell. I was not a confident driver and certainly not that close to London, but successfully got onto the 'Ring' and counted exits as my instructions were 3rd exit. In rush hour traffic I committed to the turn and then realised it wasn't actually a road going anywhere, but an actual EXIT. I had driven the wrong way into a oneway street! Oh dear, nothing I could do but continue until I could turn around.

 Then coming towards me was a car - a police car! Panic came over me, there was no way he could pass me and I couldn't reverse onto the main road, he would have to reverse. But he didn't, he stopped, got out his car, put on his cap and walked over to me. He tapped on the window and I lowered it. 'Good morning' he said 'Do you know what you have done?, he asked. Then he asked If I knew where I was? I had driven into the exit of the Thanes Valley Police Force! He went onto lecture me about how he and his colleagues couldn't get out to do their job and how those who had finished their shift couldn't get home. I had effectively brought the Police Force to a standstill. He said he would reverse, I could follow him and then we would have another little chat. I did as I was told, got out the car and waited for the next episode. Then he said 'I take it this is your first visit to Bracknell, have a nice day'. He may have found that funny but all I could think about was that my own car and not the hire car I was in, had new N Ireland number plates and if I had been in that, the Policeman would not have seen the funny side, It would have been seen as a possible terrorist incident back then in 1996.

So after that interesting start, I have had roles running support, upgrading the many instances several times, setting up and delivering training in Discoverer and Desktop Integrator, moving to being a Financials Consultant (despite being told by a colleague I couldn't do it as I wasn't a certified accountant), getting involved in User Groups, Fusion, Certus and now Accenture. In fact one of my last posts was about how did I end up here. I look back at the Debra Lilley on that first day, out of her depth and no idea what would be next. 

25 years is a long time, however I know many people whose Oracle career, even in applications, (Fiona Martin), started earlier.

It has sure been a journey with lots of bumps and challenges, and I'm not very good at journeys despite loving travel (My 10 Worst journeys) but one that has given me so many opportunities to grow and help others grow.

But I also look back at Oracle Applications. One of the first customers I supported was NI Water on release 9.4.1 of E Business Suite. Then I worked on one of the first to move to 2 Tier computing, although I can still chant backslash navigate commands in my head and if you know what I am talking about you too are old. I have often spoken about the Fusion Apps story and today Oracle leads in SaaS adding more all the time. How many other organisations had led from the front for that long?

Whatever you are doing, stop and look at how far you have come. 

Finally I want to end by saying thank you to everyone I have met on my journey so far. The ones who have helped me learn, the ones I have taught and I am so proud of what they have achieved and even the ones who have stood in my way; finding a route past them has made me a better person.

And here is to the next part of the journey, wherever that may be. 



Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Exciting New Role - How Did I End Up Here?


Yesterday I updated my Linkedin profile with my new role and the amount of comments and likes just amazed me. Perhaps everyone has more time to read Linkedin during COVID19 but I was very touched by the comments.

Taking this role was not a simple decision because I didn't particularly label myself HCM. But then I realised I was hung up on historical job roles and not my actual skills.

Last March I posted about dropping the comment 'I'm not technical' - and how it was important to acknowledge my skills rather than talk about what I wasn't.

Since I joined Accenture, everyone assumed I was HCM, and I got lots of opportunities to add value to HCM projects but I found myself saying quietly "I'm not really HCM'.

Let me explain.

I left school at 16, as early as I could, and my first job was as a procurement officer for Crown Agents. Later I did international banking with them and studied part time to get some banking qualifications.

Accidentally I got into programming, and worked for a government department covering agriculture, but didn't enjoy it as much I expected as I didn't have the customer contact I wanted.

I moved into IT operations at a time when autonomous had never even been considered. The second mainframe I worked on, an ICL 2900 series, still needed a punchcard to set the system each day (we didn't run it 24 hours).

Then I moved to analyst programmer in Berlin for the army and worked on logistics systems.

When I came back to the UK, I worked for my local council on their Finance System and I felt at home, looking after their procurement processes, combining my technical and business skills.

I stayed with these functional themes, but went through a number of technologies, range Cobol, FoxPro, MS Access, Ingres and eventually Oracle.

I then ran a support team in Fujitsu for Oracle E Business Suite for a couple of years and the functional knowledge widened. I love understanding how the technology supports the business.

When I moved into consultancy the obvious thing for me was Finance. Although I remember overhearing two consultants talking and saying I shouldn't be in Finance as I wasn't an accountant. That knocked my confidence for a long time, but I took on the Procure to Pay process and succeeded.

My first end to end implementation was in the South of Ireland where the travel there was the biggest challenge, but I worked with Paulo Soromenho who was brilliant (at Oracle not travel, he drives too fast!!) He increased my knowledge to include Inventory and Fixed Assets and after 6 months there and another project running in parallel. I have always said if you are valuable you can shape your own role and I did. My success was finding people who believed in me and who would help me to learn.


I still dabbled in technology, and the DBAs let me do little things (dab hand at ADPATCH). This was were I realised I wanted to be the technical linguist, the person who understood both sides.  I felt pretty confident and became the first person in EMEA to be certified in the new Applications IT Professional as an Oracle Master which required you to be proficient in Apps and underlying technology.


I have talked about my Fusion journey many times, and the opportunities it gave me and the first customer I worked with was finance but it was very early, and the market had not taken off.

I did a lot of speaking about Fusion, explaining how it worked, and again both technical and functional. I appeared in an early Oracle montage video, saying I thought they had made GL sexy, although Steve Miranda did later question my definition of 'sexy'. I delivered a lot of training, especially round their approach to User Experience and both the database (thank you Cary)  and analytics community (thankyou Mark) invited me to talk about the underlying design.

I joined Certus, Cloud was new, Tim Warner and Mark Sweeny had taken the risk and setup as a fusion or rather SaaS only company. At the time HCM was what people were buying in UK. The co-owners Tim Warner and Mark Sweeny I remember that one thing we discussed was the need to get ready for, and win their first Finance implementation. So to start with I did a bit of HCM, then a bit more. My first hands on job was to write a compensation guide for a luxury goods company (thanks Ian for the opportunity and patience). I was able to draw on my experience as an employee, a manager and a very protracted employee dispute I was witness to previously that resulted in many months at a tribunal. At the need of the first year we won two Finance or rather Finance and HCM projects and I was knee deep in cost centres and transactions again.

As PaaS took off I got more and more involved in how we could extend SaaS and as the customer population grew I did more and more of what I love most, how can we ensure their organisations get even more of the value they were promised? Most extensions have been in HCM as well so POCs I have carried out with Oracle, ADF, VBCS and more recently chatbots have all been based on HCM processes.

When we moved to Accenture, I was still delivering the value whilst finding the right role but people assumed that I was HCM. Despite my insistence I wasn't really HCM, I was doing lots and soon became a 'go-to' person. Tim was European HCM Lead and we did lots of work together.

Last year I even co-wrote some white papers with colleagues in the US, took part in HCM Talk Radio and guest blog for Oracle, all on HCM.

In 2019, Tim and I were part of the Accenture HCM Keynote at OOWLON, talking about Oracle Digital Assistant in HCM (PaaS4SaaS), and this year we were asked to do it again and I was responsible for my favourite thing ever. Encouraging customers to talk about the difference this has made to their business. At this year's event, I said to someone 'I'm not really HCM' and it was pointed out to me that 'I'm not really HCM' had replaced 'I'm not technical' - oops!

Tim retired last week, and there is nothing I can add to this great post from Mark Sweeny. When Tim asked me if I was interested in taking over his role, he said he would give me his full backing, that was enough. No better support than that.

I do some STEM advocacy in schools, and the students are always being told, the jobs they will have might not even exist today. Lifelong learning is key. Our CEO, recently talked to the half a million people in Accenture about the importance of new skills and them being accelerated when based on previous skills and experience.

I know I can do this. I'm excited to do this and actually I am HCM with added Financial and Technical skills. A pretty good allrounder!




Sunday, 8 March 2020

International Women’s Day - Equal and Valued


Today is International Women's Day and the theme this year is #EachForEqual and on one post from the UK Army they used the tag equal and valued to demonstrate how they feel about women in the Forces.

I am equal and valued.


I have seen and experienced discrimination but not in my career. I have always found encouragement to succeed at whatever I have done. I have had lows in my career but even then others encouraged me to move forward. Much of that encouragement came from strong women but even more from men.

I am equal and valued.

Perhaps I have just worked for organisations that saw that value in women. 30 years ago, after having my daughter I worked for Gloucestershire County Council who had a recruitment drive called 'Women Hold Up Half the Sky', and introduced flexible working for mums way before it was mainstream. I was encouraged, publicly told that being a woman, with a child, was not a barrier to success or even being valued.

When we were taken over by CFM / ICL / Fujitsu, I continued to get the encouragement I needed to succeed, too many to mention but I would call out Graeme Bowmaker and the man at the top Duncan Tate who even on my last day was encouraging me.

I am equal and valued.

Being listened to and my thoughts valued has been the most encouragement I have received and two analysts have been key to that, Ray Wang and Dennis Howlett.

I am equal and valued.

Through my role in usergroups where I have had many ups and downs I have grown, and that has come from making a difference. Encouragement here has been from other leaders, Oracle themselves and feedback from users. Missing many but want to call out Cliff Godwin, Nadia Bendjedou, Jesper Anderson, Steve Miranda, John Schiff, Jeremy Ashley, Meg Bear and Misha Vaughan. Deserving a mention to herself is Fiona Martin who has encouraged me when all I saw was dark and I was at my lowest and now one of my closest friends.

I am equal and valued.

At Certus everyone was valued and an equal part of the success. Famously Mark Sweeny blogged about working mums being part of that formula. He and Tim Warner encouraged me every step of the way as I look to carve the role I wanted and knew was of value.

I am equal and valued.

The Oracle ACE program has been the catalyst for much of my success. Being recognised for what I do, and giving me the platform to share it. I tweeted at the end of last year about the women in the program and at apx 10% of the ACE Directors being women, we may not be equal in numbers but we are equal and valued to our peers. I cannot list those who have supported and encouraged me here, but you can find them all in this list. I will however call out Jennifer Nicholson who makes it all possible


Here is a video I was part at Oracle Open World last October on diversity and inclusion and thank you to Bob Rhubart who pulled all such content together to celebrate #IWD

I am equal and valued.

Accenture, my current employer is well in front on all things diversity and inclusion. We have a female CEO Julie Sweet, and an intent to have parity in our Managing Directors by 2025. I wrote just a few weeks ago about being included in their Insight program, and how whilst I appreciate the program am not sure that for me this was necessary to be all female.

For IWB Accenture hold many events and last year the one in London was amazing. Unfortunately this years fell victim to the Coronavirus but there was so much more going on.



Women who encourage me at Accenture is another long list but Lucia Jarrett, Fiona Clarke, Carrie Brennan and Cynthia Cauley who along with Meg Bear helped me drop the I'm not technical tag.

I am equal and valued.

Life isn't just about work, my spare time is about Scuba Diving and I can never stop thanking Dan Norris for persuading me to take it up, Graham Parmley and Brian Goldthorpe at Davy Jones Diving for making it happen. All men but the buddies I have had that encourage me have mainly be women and I have to mention Helena Zalewska my buddy at home. I hope she will still talk to me now she is poster child for Dive NI.



Last year Davy Jones did a women Day event and I was proud to be part of that. PADI today posted this on women who have made a difference in diving.

I am equal and valued.

So I am I am equal and valued, but I know it isn't the same for everyone. I need to pay that forward and I hope I do by encouraging others in their quest like the STEM talk last month.

I have missed so many people out of the mentions, probably because names are not a skill I have excelled in. I appreciate every single one of you that has made me who I am. I am equal and valued.





Sunday, 1 March 2020

The Joy of a STEM Ambassador


I signed up to be a STEM Ambassador, when I learnt about Bloodhound and how it was 'to inspire a generation'. My thoughts on Women in IT are well known, we will reach parity when girls see technology as a career path for them. It is our job to encourage young people to think of technology as a career not just what drives their phone, or their Xbox. 

The process for STEM ambassadors in the UK, is a series of local hubs, who arrange vetting and training and then encourage you through opportunities to be a local ambassador. For me in N Ireland the local hub is in Belfast at W5, however despite wanting to help, most opportunities there have been when I have been travelling or in London. 

But last Friday, that changed and I did my first careers talk in Coláiste Feirste an Irish language school in Belfast, and once I had checked my lack of Irish wasn't a barrier I signed up.




The building is amazing, it is built around an 18th Century Home of the Riddell family, and we had the careers sessions in the library which used to be the chapel.


The children were all about 13 / 14 and the format of the day was speed dating. There were about 8 ambassadors representing different STEM careers and each group of children spoke to each of us for 5 minutes. These students already have an advantage, they speak two languages fluently, and I tried to make that real for them.

They had a list of suggested questions, ' What do you like most / least? What qualifications do you need?' etc, but a common one not on the list was 'how much are you paid?'. The most common question, 'how did you get into your career?', as it was first on the list, even got asked twice on more than one occasion. The ability to pretend you are listening hasn't reached them yet, but in the main they were engaged and wanted to hear our stories. 

You need to make it relevant to then. Their smartphones didn't exist when they were born, so I got them to imagine poor me, starting in technology when they had only been computers in places like NASA when I was their age. 

The question about what did I not like, I thought I had solved. I asked them what it was like when the apps on their phones didn't work. Interestingly no boy admitted to ever having a problem, except with an Xbox. I forgot this is the generation that simply figures things out. (side story, I had problems with an underwater camera on a scuba trip once. no google available at sea so I asked if anyone else had the same camera. The youngest person on the boat said she would fix it. She told me she didn't have the camera but was from the generation........... DID I FEEL OLD!!!

The day went very quickly and I really enjoyed it. I hope it helped the students.  Accenture encourages things like this and the opportunity to encourage all people to use and love technology, makes me happy.