It’s not often that CEOs are invited to formally address meetings like the Economic Forum of Germany’s Social Democratic Party. SAP CEO Bill McDermott did just that recently in Berlin.

Here are some highlights from his 25-minute speech.

On SAP’s history:

We owe SAP’s success to our five courageous founders – leaders like the distinguished Hasso Plattner, who today serves as Chairman of our Supervisory Board.

“Our founders were curious and bold. Their entrepreneurial spirit led not only to a new company, but to the creation of millions of jobs in the SAP worldwide ecosystem.

“As we debate policies to secure Germany’s economy for the future, we can all agree that we need more innovators in the mold of Hasso Plattner, Dietmar Hopp, Claus Wellenreuther, Hans-Werner Hector, and the late Klaus Tschira.”

On digital disruption in the modern economy:

“Digital technologies are changing the economy with widespread consequences.

“Overall we see a direct link between a region’s digital adoption and its overall economic competitiveness. As we think about the right approach to guide Germany’s future, boosting Europe’s digital adoption is the place to start.”

On accelerating Europe’s digital adoption:

“Europe could add 2.5 trillion Euros to GDP over the next decade if sectors that lag in digital adoption double their intensity. Ladies and gentlemen, an opportunity of this magnitude is more than just a benefit. It’s a necessity.”

On building trust to share success:

“Germany’s model of corporate governance gives us the benefit of employee representatives on the Supervisory Board. This helps us ensure that management decisions are always driven by a clear reflection of the people’s best interests.

“We also have a respected voice in the Works Council of SAP. The relationship between management and our social partners creates a global competitive advantage.”

On investing in people: 

“SAP has embraced the view that training workers for a digital economy is our corporate responsibility.

“Going further, we believe that leading companies have a moral obligation to initiate people into the modern economy, regardless of where they come from.”

On inspiring new generations:

“Beyond employment and skills, there is a deeper significance to inspiring young generations. Nationalist uprisings in Europe and the United States are the direct result of a fear that economic opportunity is only for some, not for all. We cannot be successful if this perception is allowed to prevail.”

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