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Student Spotlight: Paul Hunkeler & Josh Emsurak

Paul Hunkler
Paul Hunkeler

I began my exciting and lucrative educational career a long ways away from the campus of Salisbury University, at the University of Wisconsin with the intent on graduating with a degree in sociology. Through a series of unfortunate events at the time, I landed back in my home state of Maryland at Salisbury University after being away for two years. It was here where I found my interest in business with the support of the wonderfully helpful staff in the Perdue School, in particular Dr. Karen Papke-Shields. It was through her Operations Management course where I had begun to take a serious interest in business operations and found myself wanting to learn more about how each “functional silo” – as she likes to put it – or functional area, interacts with each other on a day-to-day basis.

There is no doubt that learning each business process or department individually and separately through specific courses is important to become a well-rounded business professional. But it is just as important in my opinion to see how business processes such as procurement or production have to be carried out by many of these functional areas to ensure a smooth execution of the process. In spring 2012, Dr. Papke-Shields suggested I take her course on enterprise resource planning systems (ERP), which explores and connects the different functions of a business all in one software application. This course taught me so much about business because it took the knowledge I had gained from the accounting, marketing, management and IS courses and explained how day-to-day business transactions affected each of these functions. Business was never as clear as it was for me until this course.

In fall 2012, I was invited by Dr. Papke-Shields to participate in a directed study on the configuration of these ERP, in particular the SAP version. During this course, I learned that putting together an ERP system for a company is a lot of work – I mean a lot of work – and should probably be done by an SAP consultant. There are many strategic business decisions that must be made when configuring an ERP system for an organization. For example, it is important to setup and choose which types of distribution channels and shipping points will be used for a specific business and tailor it to their distribution strategy. Similarly if a company has two subsidiaries in two different countries, then you have to configure the system so that the accounting and controlling accounts and rules align with each country’s laws and regulations.

The knowledge I have gained from all the practice configuring a system in this class has lead me to be not just a better ERP user, but a better business professional as well. The decisions that need to be made during the configuration process are so important and so abundant that I am confident in my ability to work in any functional area upon graduation regardless of my expertise. I am very thankful for the opportunity that Dr. Papke-Shields and the staff at the Perdue School have offered me in taking this class, and I would recommend a required ERP course of some sort to all future business students. The value this course has been helpful already in many of my other classes as well as in my internship. I hope to come back in a few years and see a mandatory class for it. It is an exciting learning experience that will not disappoint, and I will take the knowledge I have learned with me as I begin my professional career in January.

Josh Emsurak
Josh Emsurak

Originally entering in the Perdue School of Business, my mission was to obtain my accounting degree and find a job for when I graduate. However, after several accounting classes and job fairs I realized I needed 30 more credits once completing my accounting degree in order to sit for the CPA exam. From there, I decided to pick up a double major in information systems. This decision made sense to me since I have always been interested in information technology, and I discovered after speaking with many recruiters that accounting firms look for students who have accounting and information systems backgrounds.

I remember scheduling classes for the spring 2012 semester and I had an extra elective I needed to fulfill in order to complete my information systems degree. After searching through all of the open classes, I saw INFO 470 (which now is INFO 370) and was drawn to this class because Dr. Karen Papke-Shields was the professor teaching it and I learned a lot from her during her Operations Management class and figured I would learn a lot in this class as well. Once the class began, I learned this class dealt heavily with SAP and I was hesitant because of previous exposures I have had in classes with this massive system. However, as the semester went on, we began breaking down the giant and then SAP didn’t seem so intimidating anymore.

Halfway through the semester, Dr. Papke-Shields asked Paul Hunkeler and myself if we would be interested in a directed study for fall 2012 in configuring a SAP system for a company in order to learn all of the behind-the-scenes aspects of SAP. Throughout this semester, we have spent numerous hours configuring SAP for a fictitious company who produces and sells healthy snack bars. Our final assignment of this directed study would be to complete an additional section that we found interesting or pertained to our other majors. I was assigned a new case that deals with segregation of duties and internal controls that I found useful because of my background in accounting.

The Information and Decision Sciences Department is focusing more and more on different ways they can use SAP as a tool to help teach their students. The truth is, SAP can be used for more than just information systems majors. As I learned, this system deals greatly with different aspects of accounting and sales/human resources. Over the past two semesters, I have learned a tremendous amount about SAP, and I have been on several interviews where my interviewers are highly impressed when they see I have an understanding of SAP on my resume. I think the Information and Decision Sciences Department is going in an excellent direction with SAP, and I anticipate nothing but good things for upcoming students because they will be learning a great tool that will help them find a job once graduation time comes along.


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