Brock Ray: So first Sam, tell me, what all does your job entail?
Sam Gnanadas: Yeah, I’m Oracle ERP e-business application consultant. I’ve been doing that for the past, how much? 25 plus years. I think I started sometime in 1996 or ‘97. I started [my career] as a mechanical engineer, then I learned Oracle apps from Oracle in India. Mostly I’m on the business side. So I have industrial knowledge — production planning, supply chain, procurement, order management, inventory management, and all that. I got my Oracle certification from the Oracle education center in India. Then I came here in 1998, and I’ve been in the US for almost 23 years.
BR: Awesome. So tell me a little bit more about being on the business side. What all does that involve? What’s kind of a day in the life for you?
SG: I was a production engineer before coming into IT, so I used to manage production as a plant manager in India. Now on the Oracle side, my main job is understanding the business requirements and creating a smooth environment for clients to react and execute in the application. I configure Oracle applications based on the client’s requirements. I’m especially strong in inventory management and supply chain planning. Manufacturing is another core area.
BR: Can you tell us about your professional background.
SG: Sure. I have worked with almost all the big five consulting companies. I worked for Arthur Anderson, in their San Francisco office, as a consulting manager. Then I was with Accenture for a while. Then I worked with Deloitte Consulting and PWC and even Computer Sciences Corporation. I did a big project for them for almost two years in St. Louis, Missouri. And I was managing a big program with GE Energy in Atlanta. That was a big team, with both an onsite and an offshore team. Locally, I have worked with a majority of the companies using Oracle ERP here in the Twin Cities.
BR: What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
SG: I know both the business and functional sides [of Oracle]. I’m not a programmer though. I’m a functional consultant, I have good knowledge and experiences in production, manufacturing, supply chain planning and inventory management. I can connect with the users and understand their requirements, and I can provide the best solution for [their needs] from Oracle. That is my strong area, I would say.
BR: What do you find are some of the things that clients are challenged by these days? What sorts of things are you called in to help work on?
SG: Some of my clients, I would say maybe recently, they don’t know what functionalities are available in Oracle. Their only experience is with their own system and their own digital processes. So they don’t know how to improve the system or how to even define their requirements. For most of them, their experience is all in their industry, and they have their homegrown system, which someone taught them how to use. But they don’t know what is available out there, and they don’t know how to ask about the right requirements. They think theirs is the only right way.
My job is to prototype their requirements and convert them into an Oracle application. Most of the time, 99 percent of the time, they will be amazed to see, “Oh! This is available in Oracle. Oh, this is so much better. I can see all this information now.”
I love getting those kind of reactions. So often, clients have been working in the industry for 25 or 30 years, right? They got into the business and somebody taught them, this is how you do work. And they just follow that for years. So educating them, training them, that’s a lot of fun. And they are really happy, happy clients all the time.
BR: So when you’re not doing work with clients and helping them understand the world of possibilities that exist, what sort of things do you do? Do you have passion projects, hobbies, anything like that?
SG: I do. I have several passion projects. I have a nonprofit organization to help poor and needy people here in the U.S. and in India, too. I have several friends, most of whom are in IT, and we all just pooled some money. Now we do projects around the world — mainly in the US and India. We partner with some other organizations, too. That’s [how I spend the] majority of my non-work time.
BR: Tell us a little more about your personal life.
SG: I have been married for 30 years. In February, I’ll be turning 60, and we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary. We have two wonderful boys, and both are doing well. I’m from India, and I’ve been in this country almost 23 years, and I’m a US citizen now. I completed my engineering degree back in India. Then I came here in 1998 and, after coming here, I got my MBA from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Then I did my CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management) certification from APICS.
So I did all those things. And then I was thinking, okay, I should learn something about theology, too. So two years ago I started my master’s degree in Divinity from Bethel University, and I’m almost there. I’ll be graduating with my M.Div. in the summer of 2022. I am qualified to be a pastor, as well. My passion is mission work to help poor and needy people. That is my passion and my retirement plan. So I want to travel around the world and help people.
BR: That’s fantastic. That’s really great. Sam, thank you so very much. This has been really wonderful.
SG: Thank you very much.