Ensuring Your Organization Makes a Difference

How can our vision change the world?


This is a world where purpose matters like never before. Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP SE, talks about the strategic focus that unified SAP around a purpose of building a business that reflects where the world is going, not where it has been.You and those around you want to be a part of something that is really making a difference.

The power of what we do is not just in the day-to-day, it's in thinking big—way beyond ourselves—to change the world, make it run better, and improve peoples' lives.

Now, as I think about the transition to the worldwide CEO job, it's no different. In 2010 we had to have a vision and a strategy that made sense and I'll give you a little bit of that strategy in this conversation. First, this is a world where purpose matters more than ever before. I get inspired by being a part of a purpose. You want to be part of a purpose, something that really matters, something that really makes a difference.

So we came up with a compelling vision to make the world run better and improve people's lives. And we said this will be the cornerstone to all of our metrics and financial objectives. So whether we have to innovate something, partner for something, or even buy something, it'll be because we're building a company around a strategy for where the world is going, not where the world has been. And the big trends that you know so well include things like mobility, clouds, and fast databases. But what really hit me in this vision and this strategy was what it could mean to Christina Marule.

Here is a woman running a business in South Africa. A spaza. It reminded me a lot of that little old delicatessen that I ran on the South Shore of Long Island. Now Christina was in a business where she had to go city to city in her own car to pick up all the goods that would go on her shelves to sell to her customers. And the saddest part about that value chain is that 80% of her profits were eaten up by having to do that. But worst of all, her son, had to stay home from school because somebody had to watch the store, right?

And then the power of technology, where you could take a mobile device, completely automate the supply chain, get all the deliveries just in time so nothing would spoil, pay all the bills with frictionless commerce, so no money had to change hands between people, was a revolution to her and her profits rose by more than 100%. But best of all her son went to school, got an education, so he could be a leader. He can be a winner like you, a person of consequence that can touch hundreds if not thousands of people in this world should he choose to do so. So the power of what we do is not just in the day to day. It's in thinking big, way beyond ourselves to change the world, make it run better, and improve people's lives.

Ladies and gentlemen, I tell you today, I was in that seat that you're sitting in. I always went to something like this saying, "Can I get that one thing that can make a difference?" Something that I can learn that I could take with me so I could be a better leader. I really believe we're either getting better, we're probably bored, or the worst case, we're broke. You inspire me because you are the winners that are coming to an event like this to get the best and brightest ideas.

I say to you above all else, leave this event with the winners dream. Have an audacious, bold, dream for who you are and what you mean to this world and don't let anybody take that away from you. Like you, I have had good bosses and bad bosses. I have had good circumstances and thunder bolts knock me right on my back. But in every single case, be strong, resilient, and don't let anybody take your winners dream away from you.

Bill McDermott

Bill McDermott was appointed co-CEO of SAP alongside Jim Hagemann Snabe on February 7, 2010. He was then promoted to sole CEO (the first American in the company's history) in 2014. In this capacity, and also as a member of the executi...

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