While over 200 leaders from companies across the globe are celebrating their Employees’ Choice Award for Top CEO 2019, only one can claim the extraordinary title of being the only CEO to win in four different countries. SAP CEO Bill McDermott has won this year’s award in the U.S., UK, Germany and Canada, with thousands of employees recognizing his leadership, energy and vision.
“This team – and I mean across the globe – is incredibly aligned. We create a vision and communicate that vision relentlessly. Success does not occur in a vacuum,” says McDermott who earned a 95% approval rating. “When we get our people invested in a project or a mission, give them control and the opportunity to dream, anything is possible.”
Whether he is at the global headquarters in Germany, visiting teams in Palo Alto or speaking to leaders in Singapore, McDermott brings the same hunger for innovation, authenticity and success. It’s this fervor that has helped build the SAP ranks to nearly 100,000 employees and € 23.5 billion annually.
Glassdoor spoke with the Top CEO to learn more about SAP’s culture, what he looks for when hiring top talent and why every job seeker should apply.
Glassdoor: Congratulations on the good results. You got in the rankings in four different countries. What does it mean for you to know that your employees have rated you so well on a global scale? Is it something you expected?
Bill McDermott: First of all, what an honor! There is no satisfaction in the World like working really hard and experiencing tangible results. On behalf of myself and the entire SAP team, thank you. I am thrilled.
SAP is comprised of such thoughtful and adaptable people. I am blessed to have such an amazing team and an incredible collection of talent. I get up every day and hit it as hard as I can because I know I have this amazing group behind me. For me, every effort and every thought is dedicated to their hard work and commitment
I love to win, but this far surpasses that feeling. It is stunning and humbling. I feel so incredibly proud, but also fired up to keep going!
Glassdoor: Let us talk cultural differences: Do you need to take a special approach for the employees in every country to be successful as a leader? Or is it one size fits all?
Bill McDermott: Cultural differences exist, but we are all human beings. Everyone wants to matter. Everyone wants to contribute. Our culture is rooted in each team member helping and pushing the success of others. People spend so much time at work and with their coworkers. We want everyone to have empathy for the other person and their point of view. We encourage everyone to be open-minded and to always let the best idea win.
We also foster a continuous process of innovation – in our products and for ourselves. As long as we stay on the edge of that, we’re going to have the winning strategy – the winning company – and provide an environment where we’re growing. Keep in mind, that growth environments and prosperous environments are generally happy environments and we want a happy company.
Cultural differences exist, but we are all human beings. Everyone wants to matter. Everyone wants to contribute. Our culture is rooted in each team member helping and pushing the success of others. —McDermott
Glassdoor: What do you do as a CEO to bridge cultural differences within such a big company such as SAP?
Bill McDermott: When you consider the size and scale of SAP, communication is incredibly important. To get their best, your people need to know what is happening and why.
This team – and I mean across the globe – is incredibly aligned. We create a vision and communicate that vision relentlessly. Success does not occur in a vacuum. When we get our people invested in a project or a mission, give them control and the opportunity to dream, anything is possible.
Glassdoor: What are you looking for in applicants to SAP?
Bill McDermott: My mother always told me that, “the best part of you is you.” I so strongly believe in that. I love people who know themselves and trust their talents and are also brave enough to seek help in areas where they are not experts. We respect everyone on the team. One of my personal tenets is that if I say it, I will make it happen. I never want to disappoint anyone. It is amazing how that mindset gets reciprocated.
Glassdoor: Our award concept is based on bottom-up feedback, is this something that you consider valuable and that you promote in your corporate culture at SAP?
Bill McDermott: We believe in the experience at SAP. If the team is having a good experience, then so will our partners and, of critical importance, our customers. We want our people to have the freedom and the ability to voice ideas and concerns, or even just to vent.
No matter where a good idea or great input comes from – I just want it!
SAP inherently understands the value of data. The team’s direct perspective creates a particularly valuable dataset. We regularly seek internal feedback and make decisions based on what we hear.
Glassdoor: What do you consider to be the most important qualities a manager must have today? Are other skills required than just a few years ago?
Bill McDermott: Leaders must be able to listen and they must have empathy. To hear what your employee is telling you and to understand what that information represents to them is key. When someone shares their particular perspective and experience, it is a gift that must be valued. Then, you must be able to properly interpret what you are told and respond or react in a meaningful way.
The team is our most vital asset. We all need to stay incredibly engaged.
Glassdoor: Last but not least, why should I work for SAP?
Bill McDermott: This company is at the forefront of enterprise technology. We do some of the most important work for marquee customers around the world. We value our employees and want to honor their commitment to us.
I have had a very fascinating and fulfilling career, but I have never experienced the kind of human synergy I encounter every day from this team. No matter where in the SAP ecosystem I may find myself, I regularly encounter empowered and happy people who know how to get a job done. We celebrate that can-do disposition and readily welcome an entire variety of talent on our team.
I love SAP and could not even dream of a better place to work.