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Everything done right!

In mid-January, Der Spiegel reported online on a study by the HR consultancy Heidrick and Struggles analyzing typical and successful careers of CEOs. The simple question of a complex process is: What do I have to do to become CEO?
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine
March 5, 2020
Internal Communication
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein became SAP's co-CEOs late last year. Christian Klein's career in particular largely matches the generic descriptions from the Heidrick and Struggles study.

Der Spiegel quotes HR consultants and recommends staying with one company if possible. Apparently, many appointments to the CEO position are made with existing internal employees.

Christian Klein has worked at SAP since the beginning of his professional life. He took the opportunity to continue his education at a technical college while working. Der Spiegel writes:

"Especially in times of crisis, companies like to rely on homegrown talent. Of the CEOs currently in office, two-thirds come from within the company. Among newly appointed ones, the figure is as high as three-quarters. Companies want to minimize risks this way." [Source.]

Only in one essential point Klein's career does not correspond to the findings of the personnel consultants, the Spiegel writes about it: Age faster!

If the applicant is still under 45, his chances of becoming CEO are put into perspective. At 40, Klein has confirmed an exception to the rule.

HR consultancy Heidrick and Struggles has another tip for potential applicants: Become a CFO if you don't make it to the top of the board in your first attempt.

Here, too, Christian Klein scores 100 percent. He was interim CFO at SAP subsidiary SuccessFactors under founder and CEO Lars Dalgaard.

It's interesting what Heidrick and Struggles recommends if the CFO career doesn't work out: Try the route via the post of COO, Chief Operating Officer. Christian Klein was the COO of the ERP world market leader before he was appointed as SAP's co-CEO - so again, he did everything right.

SAP employees also attest to Christian Klein's very high level of ERP expertise. His ERP expertise is comprehensive and detailed - so he also seems to be the best possible complement to Jennifer Morgan, who is generally regarded as a sales genius and strategic business leader.

Ex-SAP CEO Bill McDermott is said to have been overwhelmed internally by the many inquiries and attempts at explanation in the first months after the Qualtrics takeover.

Jennifer Morgan unceremoniously established a Steering Committee and thus brought order back into the internal communication channels.

The challenge for the young SAP bosses this year, however, will be the darned cloud and Hana technology. The numerous acquisitions of recent years, which go far beyond an ERP system, must be analyzed, optimized, synchronized, virtualized and integrated - a Herculean task.

Hana as an on-premises system is beyond reproach, but as an infinitely scalable cloud solution, Hana's current code base is useless. Many valuable departures from SAP engineering at almost every level of the hierarchy are not making life any easier for Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein this year.

Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine

Peter M. Färbinger, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief E3 Magazine DE, US and ES (, AG, Freilassing (DE), E-Mail: and Tel. +49(0)8654/77130-21

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Work on SAP Basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. This gives the so-called Competence Center strategic importance among SAP's existing customers. Regardless of the operating model of an S/4 Hana, topics such as automation, monitoring, security, application lifecycle management, and data management are the basis for the operative S/4 operation. For the second time already, E3 Magazine is hosting a summit in Salzburg for the SAP community to get comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. With an exhibition, expert presentations, and plenty to talk about, we again expect numerous existing customers, partners, and experts in Salzburg. E3 Magazine invites you to Salzburg for learning and exchange of ideas on June 5 and 6, 2024.


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Event date

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The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.