As we continue with our meet the team series, we sit down with a handful of the bancon team based out of the United Kingdom to find out a bit more about their backgrounds, what they’re working on at the moment and what they’re most looking forward to in 2024.

Hi everyone, great to meet you. So, let’s kick off the interview by hearing a bit about your background and what you’ve been working on since joining bancon.

Dave Burnside, Associate Director, Payments & Cards: I’ve worked in SAP Banking for the last eight years both in technical and functional roles. Since joining bancon, I’ve focused on S/4HANA Payment Centralisation and Virtual Account Management for large international banks; in the process further establishing our competency for Payments & Cards. Starting out my career I focused on treasury and payment solutions for multinational corporations like British Petroleum. A lot of these companies operate their own internal mini-banks so getting familiar with that helped me in my transition to the banking side of the industry.

Marinda Fullard, Associate Director, Loans & Specialist Lending: I grew up in and went to university in South Africa studying accounting, computer science, economics and mathematics which then paved the way for my career in banking. I was very fortunate that my professor got me my first job at a major bank in South Africa said that was my entry into banking. I started as a developer on Student Loans and then later went into more corporate lending when SAP came on the scene. A large corporate company was looking for a business analyst in treasury and banking and that’s how I got into SAP. Since then, I’ve worked at a lot of big corporate companies, as the banks were not on SAP all those years ago and it’s now the last 15 – 20 years I’ve personally been involved with the banks and non-banking institutions.

Patricio Nicola, FSI Senior Development Architect: My background is in system engineering. I started in SAP around 15 years ago in SAP Banking and moved from different versions of banking services from modules such as asset management, loans management and now payment central. I’ve been implementing SAP Banking & Payments around the world in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Australia and now here in the UK, mainly technical functional roles and architectural, but I’m also now specialising in payments in UK schemes such as BACS, within S/4HANA Payment Central.

Andrés di Fiore, FSI Senior Banking & Payments Consultant: I’ve been working in the banking industry for the last twenty years. I initially started my career as a developer, and then a project manager developing and delivering solutions across Latin America and Spain. I moved to the SAP banking world within the last fifteen years. I have implemented Core Transformation projects across the world in countries like Argentina, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and Canada, and have been fortunate to now land in the UK. At bancon, I work predominantly in the payments team and on banking transformation projects.

Alvin Martin, Senior Banking Consultant: I hail from Pennsylvania. I studied at Penn State University and started my career in the fintech industry in 2003. I joined bancon two years ago as a Business Analyst/Functional Consultant. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of working across various departments with some amazing teams.

It’s lovely to meet you all and to have this opportunity to learn more about you. What brought you to the SAP Banking industry, and what has kept you in it for so long?

Dave: Working with SAP as a business technology gave me the opportunity to learn business processes. I didn’t have a business operations background, and understanding the technology helped me to figure out how the business processes work.

Marinda: I got involved in SAP banking by being naive! When the bank I was working for moved their headquarters from Pretoria to Johannesburg, my daily travel increased so much that after three years I decided I needed to get something closer to home. That’s when a big corporate bank near me implemented SAP and was looking for a business analyst within their treasury and banking department. Not knowing anything about SAP, I applied and got the job. Back then, SAP was a big shock to my system. But I don’t regret my decision to apply for the job at all.

What’s kept me in this industry is the incredible opportunities worldwide. SAP has opened so many doors for me. I’ve worked in Australia, Canada, America, Dubai and Europe. It’s an international community with opportunities available just about anywhere in the world.

Patricio: I had a few job opportunities to work with different technologies and decided to join the SAP industry. There was evidently a lot of opportunity to grow if you were able to put in the effort. The ways of working in SAP were quite organic to the way in which I worked, and I was excited by the opportunity to work in different countries. The opportunities the banking industry presents people with is very attractive, I’ve worked with some incredible people throughout my career on some memorable projects, and the ever-evolving industry means there are always new challenges to tackle together with our clients.

Andrés: After working for a while in different First-Class Banks in Argentina, one of my former bosses started working on a huge SAP project in Buenos Aires to transform the core banking of Banco Galicia. They needed banking consultants to support the implementation. I knew nothing about SAP Banking but trusted Diego Guetta when he mentioned this product was ‘the future’ of core banking. I joined SAP Argentina in 2010 and enjoyed the experience so much - it was a great opportunity for me career-wise. We won the First Prize on Innovation in SAP Projects in 2016 after implementing a solution with an excellent time-to-market that positioned our client ahead of their competitors by launching new Government-regulated products live in only 72 hours. After successfully managing to run seven million clients and three million accounts in an SAP landscape for Banco Galicia, a German Bank hired me to move to Europe and work in their Pan-European platform with new businesses, new cultures and new projects. As Miranda said, it’s a global community and you can work with so many people across the world.

Alvin: I entered the SAP world back in 1991 at SAP America, and the adventure took me around the globe – from the U.S. to Germany, Australia, the UK, and the Netherlands. A brief stint outside SAP led me to a startup in the financial services sector, and eventually, I returned to SAP UK. The opportunities SAP provided were beyond my wildest expectations, considering I could have been a botanist!

Amazing! It’s fascinating to hear the journeys you have been on individually that have brought you together here. Now, for a big-picture question. The banking industry has traditionally been a strong market for SAP adoption. Is that still the case, and why do you think so?

Dave: With ever-expanding regulation, packaged solutions such as those offered by SAP & SAP Fioneer reduce the worries about compliance. The extensibility of the S/4HANA product range really makes it stand out from the crowd, where customers can build their own solutions to specific requirements within the package.

Marinda: As I’ve been in the industry for several years, my experience was that the banks were slow adopters of SAP. They were the last to catch on because, in the beginning, SAP was not focused on the banks. Once resources and research and development were dedicated to the banking sector, around 20 years ago, that’s when the first implementations really started. You can see SAP and SAP Fioneer have had a very specific drive to develop their product for the banking industry, with all those funds, they really did do a comprehensive development for that sector. SAP has stayed relevant by keeping its development going and its attention focused on banking.

Alvin: Absolutely! The financial services industry, especially in North EMEA (Europe), demands cutting-edge and reliable technology. SAP Fioneer offers a robust product, ideal for the complex landscapes of today’s banks. Its interoperability, be it with SAP or non-SAP solutions, makes it a strong player.

Patricio: When banks identified the risks of keeping old platforms, they turned to SAP because they needed world-class software backed by many years of successful case studies. Banks needed reassurance that the support they needed existed. SAP provided, and still provides, the best technology to the market to support the industry.

Andrés: SAP adoption within the industry was slow in the beginning, especially in Latin America where I was working at the time, but the success stories that SAP produced were able to slowly but surely convince financial institutions that they could provide innovation, scalability and increase reliability to their operations all at the same time. SAP has consistently exceeded expectations within the industry and is a robust solution for banks that enables the offering of flexible products for their clients based on insights by combining analytical and transactional data, allowing personalised offers with a lesser data footprint.

Before we wrap up, let’s touch on bancon’s global competency hubs. Can you share more about bancon UK’s role as the Payment & Cards hub?

Dave: The UK is deploying New Payments Architecture with lots of new payment innovations. It’s one of the first countries to deploy real-time payments with the Faster Payments Scheme; positioning the UK market as a leader when it comes to payments processing. Enabling financial institutions to modernise their payment proposition is a core part of our business and it made strategic sense to establish the core competency here; coupled with a dedicated payments and cards competency in India.

Delivering offshore capability for payments centralisation is an important element for our customers which is why building capability within the India hub has been an important development over the last year or so. It’s also an important offering for our customers in terms of implementing and building new payments software, but also providing cost effort, yet high-quality, medium to long-term Application Managed Services to those customers.

Whilst our capability hubs are centred around UK and India, it’s important to remember that payments are an international business. I previously worked at a corporate installing payments in over 150 countries. Every country and currency have its own payment requirements. This highlights that the capability is a global capability, just supported by our UK and India competency hubs.

Patricio: We’ve worked with customers who have payment interactions with many different countries, currencies and time zones. Because of our individual experience that has brought us together to build this team, the knowledge we possess and the skills we’ve developed ensures excellent delivery to each of our customers.

Andrés: As Dave said, the UK market is seen as leaders in the payment space. This gives us access to the huge amount of talent situated here. Not only can we deploy that talent here in the UK, but it also gives us plenty of opportunities to deploy this talent internationally through our global delivery.

Great insights! We’d love to hear more about your experience working at bancon. If you could offer one piece of advice for someone joining bancon what would it be?

Andrés: When you work at bancon you feel there is a network of 360 collaboration and support. You know that there will always be someone within this company who can help you, support you and teach you, you won’t stop learning or developing. We have excellent opportunities to travel, to work with new teams and to work flexibly. It’s extremely professional, no one doubts your capacities or responsibilities. The trust, culture and dependency are very cool – a unique and special environment.

Dave: I’d say always being curious! We have a team with a wide experience across the entire S/4HANA landscape but of course wider than that. We are an encouraging team who share knowledge along the way – it’s a very important part of the business and our team.

Marinda: It may sound cheesy but the people at bancon are extremely special people. We share a bond and culture that spans across the globe. The support available from everyone is very encouraging, and despite the fact I do not work directly with my colleagues on this interview, we are always aware of each other’s role and responsibilities within their respective projects. The entire company has very special expertise, you will never stop learning and flourishing in this lovely culture. And as part of that culture, we have our regular dinners and socialising!

Alvin: Joining bancon means stepping into a close-knit group with interesting projects, a positive vibe, and team dinners (Chimichurris, anyone?). It’s a team where ego takes a backseat, and knowledge-sharing and support thrive.

Patricio: I am in total agreement with everyone. There’s simply nothing more to add. If you are looking to join bancon, be assured that you will always be supported and trusted. The culture that the team has developed is inspiring.

Thank you. It’s clear we have a talented, diverse, and globally connected team here at bancon! Stay tuned for more exciting updates from this fantastic group.

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