Few CEOs can claim to have climbed as many rungs of the corporate ladder as Bill McDermott. The revered 55-year-old chief executive of software giant SAP cut his teeth as a salesman at Xerox, where after 17 years he ended up as a member of the board of directors.
Since 2002, Mr. McDermott has been with SAP and has helped turn the once flagging German technology company into a global leader for software that streamlines business processes. The company’s brand is less well-known than the countless multinationals for which it provides business technology systems, such as Apple and Google. But Bill McDermott is looking to change that. Under his leadership, the company has rebranded itself with a shift focus towards its customers. At the same time Mr. McDermott has pushed SAP full steam ahead into potentially disruptive emerging technologies such as machine learning and blockchain business transactions.
And while Mr. McDermott remains unwaveringly optimistic about SAP’s progress, the business leader views the rise of political populism in the U.S. and across Europe with some concern. He discussed with Handelsblatt the potential economic effects of a future Trump presidency and the dangers of protectionist economic policies.