McDermott joined SAP in 2002 and led operations in the United States, Latin America and Asia Pacific Japan. Gunst has been at SAP for 20 years and, in his last post, was president of the EMEA region. He has now been appointed to the newly created position of chief operating officer (COO) to ensure efficient operations, while McDermott heads the new board area Global Field Operations with worldwide responsibility for sales.
The individual sales regions are headed by Geraldine McBride (Asia Pacific Japan), José Duarte (EMEA), Greg Tomb (North America), and Rodolpho Cardenuto (Latin America). By making Latin America a separate sales region, SAP is focusing on “unique growth opportunities in large markets like Brazil and Mexico and emerging ones like Colombia,” says McDermott.
Four questions for Bill McDermott:
Mr. McDermott, what will be the first priorities in your Board area?
As always, our primary objectives are to deliver value to our customers, motivate our employees, and of course drive shareholder value for SAP AG. To achieve this, we will work with each regional president and the leadership team. We will move as one and at the same time recognize the local nuances of every market. I am particularly focused on the BRIC countries and emerging markets as a major source of innovation and growth.
Where do you see the biggest challenges in your new position?
Our biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity – to reposition our field force from being perceived by customers as sales people to what it really is: the front line in creating value for our customers. SAP field professionals are the trusted advisors to customers; they represent SAP’s unique capabilities to help customers and prospects become “best-run businesses”.
We will also embark upon recruiting, training, certifying and developing our front line work force around value and leadership.
While business in Europe and Asia continues to develop favorably, demand for business software in the U.S. is affected by significant financial hardships. How do you aim to achieve stable growth in light of these adverse conditions?
Customers need to invest in SAP when times are more challenging so they can be more efficient and effective with smaller discretionary budgets. Also the smartest leaders know that the time to invest in technology and innovation is when economic cycles are down so that they are prepared to seize the opportunity when markets rise again – much more prepared than their competitors.
In good times, companies will accelerate their investment in SAP to grow through innovation. So whether you are getting lean and efficient, growing through mergers and acquisitions, or simply innovating business processes on top, SAP is the only viable option in this flat world.
What does it mean for you to have been appointed to the SAP Executive Board?
It’s a great honor to join the Executive Board and to play a role in leading this great company. Even before I joined SAP, I admired the international scope of the company, as well as its history and the value it provided to the world’s leading companies. I’m excited and humbled by the opportunity and look forward to this next great chapter in my career.
One of the best attributes of SAP is the global nature of its workforce and its executive management team. Regardless of where you come from, there is a place for you at SAP. As I join Jim and Ernie in coming to the Board, I’m thrilled that the Executive Board’s makeup represents many regions of the world, and is ever more reflective of the international nature of our workforce and our global business.