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Christian Klein is right, SAP is not

SAP CEO Klein gave a very remarkable interview to a colleague from Handelsblatt in Davos at the World Economic Summit. He argued convincingly for face-to-face meetings and face-to-face events.
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine
26 January 2023
Internal Communication
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Sustainability and ESG

My colleague from Handelsblatt asked the SAP CEO many questions and also about sustainability and ESG. In the meantime, I read on the Handelsblatt website that ESG has degenerated into a nonword and no American investor dares to mouth this abbreviation anymore - thank Blackrock, but that's another story.

In an interview with Handelsblatt, Christian Klein was asked about the issue of corporate jets, which had already been discussed many days before the start of the summit. He asked whether it was not a contradiction when, on the one hand, climate protection, sustainability and, of course, ESG are discussed, but on the other hand, every statesman and the executives arrive in a private jet. The background to the question was that SAP also has several corporate jets. Where were these jets when Christian Klein was in Davos with his team?

With a broad smile, Christian Klein replied that his jet would hopefully be in Mannheim, because he had traveled to Davos by train. And he argued that even traveling by jet from more distant places would result in a positive balance, because a trip to Davos involves a great many personal meetings. If he were to visit each interlocutor individually, the time required and the carbon footprint would be disproportionately higher. Davos is therefore not only an important event, but a highly efficient one.

A spontaneous idea of Christian Klein was a comparative study on the efficiency of Davos compared to individual meetings. Admittedly, the environmental impact of traveling by corporate jet is put into perspective when there is not one, but many interlocutors. But Christian Klein also propagated the significance and importance of personal meetings and conversations. Is Christian Klein more open, flexible, tolerant and worldly than his SAP?

SAP Germany's first major customer event of the still young year takes place merely as a virtual event on the screen - thus exactly the opposite of what Christian Klein cited for the World Economic Summit in Davos. In Davos itself, there was an SAP House with a magnificent evening reception. Real people met there and discussed real challenges.

Why can't SAP consistently and stringently implement the views of its own boss? In the Handelsblatt interview, Christian Klein clearly declared his support for face-to-face meetings and argued logically. His own marketing department, however, is likely to disagree. Instead of holding a big SAP community festival in Walldorf, SAP forces existing customers and partners in front of the screen to hold what feels like the hundredth Zoom and Teams meeting.

SAP should listen much more to their boss, who travels by train to Davos and personally shakes hands with many people there. So it seems to be true that SAP as a company has lost contact with the community, with existing customers during the pandemic. It has become convenient to keep unpleasant questions and challenges at a distance and only communicate via online meetings. SAP should once again orient itself more to the actions of its boss Christian Klein.

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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