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Always Good Friends - Bill McDermott, Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein

The old dual leadership of Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott has been succeeded at SAP since mid-October by Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein. In between, McDermott tried to go it alone. Hasso Plattner obviously prefers to control SAP's soul via a new dual leadership.
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine
January 9, 2020
Always Good Friends - Bill McDermott, Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

In the E-3 September issue, the headline was on the Christian Klein Summer Talk: The soul of a new machine (Book tip!). That already told us everything that happened behind the scenes. In the lead-up to this interview, we wrote:

"Christian Klein is a member of SAP's Executive Board and officially has the role of Chief Operating Officer. In real life, he is rebuilding and restructuring SAP.

CFO Luka Mucic is looking to cash in and CEO Bill McDermott is driving the sale. Klein is breathing new life into SAP's machinery."


SAP's third-quarter financials show how committed and successful Bill McDermott has been in driving sales. But the DSAG summer survey and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) from SAP's 2018 annual report also show that SAP will need a different type of leadership in the future. There is a lack of trust in SAP roadmaps among SAP's existing customers, and hardly anyone wants to recommend SAP products anymore, see NPS.

The dual leadership of Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein seems made for the necessary repair behavior. They probably complement each other perfectly and together can breathe new life into the company after the turbulent cloud acquisitions and personnel restructuring.

For SAP experts, the disruptive changes on the SAP Executive Board are routine. The list of suddenly disgraced managers is long: Shai Agassi, Peter Zencke, Léo Apotheker, Vishal Sikka, Bernd Leukert.

Neither is this list complete, nor was Plattner himself always the trigger. In any case, however, it corresponds to Plattner's management style: The visionary looks ahead and is only marginally concerned with the past. Fast decisions, clear strategy and far-reaching thinking characterize Hasso Plattner's actions.

When ex-CEO Bill McDermott indicated that he did not want to stay at SAP for too much longer, Hasso closed the bag and removed Bill from all his positions! In mid-October, many media speculated whether the financial inverstor Elliott was exerting gentle pressure on the Supervisory Board and the Executive Board.

At the beginning of the year, Elliott invested more than one billion euros in SAP, causing the SAP share price to soar by more than ten percent. At the Annual General Meeting in Mannheim, Elliott's involvement was a central topic: What is the financial investor planning at SAP and what personnel decisions will it force?

The current personnel and direction decision was made without influence from Paul Singer, the head of Elliott. "Without Bill McDermott, SAP would not be the company it is today," Hasso Plattner said.

"Bill McDermott has made a significant contribution to the company's success - for example, as the driving force in the direction of the cloud. SAP's growth will continue to benefit from this direction for many years to come.

We thank him for all he has done for SAP. At the same time, we congratulate Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein, who can build on this promising foundation.

A year ago, Bill McDermott and I already decided to expand their responsibilities and thus thoroughly prepare them for a leadership role at the top of the company."

Platzgummer Jun11 Dltz
Hasso Plattner has always controlled his SAP through dual leaderships: Henning Kagermann and Léo Apotheker; Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe (see Robert Platzgummer cartoon from 2011); now Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein. Truly harmonious and sustainable, the previous twin peaks were rare - the current combination could do it!

Always good friends they want to remain, but if ex-Cloud executive Rob Enslin hadn't very surprisingly moved to Google six months ago, Jennifer Morgan wouldn't have had a career as a cloud executive.

Only Christian Klein had a premonition when he said at this year's DSAG Congress in Nuremberg in September that the length of time a COO stays on the board is about two years.

He himself managed about 18 months before being promoted from COO to co-CEO. Personnel planning on the SAP Executive Board will remain erratic.

Despite excellent Q3 figures, Bill McDermott leaves the ship SAP in the important fourth quarter. Hasso Plattner alone decided this personnel matter.

SAP does not need brilliant sales managers like Léo Apotheker or Bill McDermott at the top, but holistic managers like Professor Henning Kagermann or a dynamic Jennifer Morgan and a young Christian Klein, trained by Supervisory Board member Gerd Oswald.

This dual leadership could be a worthy successor to Kagermann/Apotheker and Snabe/McDermott.

Platzgummer June14 Dltz
Disruptive personnel changes are not uncommon at SAP! The exchange of SAP's Chief Technology Officer lasted only one weekend: Vishal Sikka for Bernd Leukert, who was later surprisingly replaced by Jürgen Müller and had to leave completely shortly thereafter. The dismantling of co-CEO Jim Snabe by the later autocrat McDermott was also successful.
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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