Two men are starting top corporate jobs today at two of Germany’s largest companies: John Cryan, a Brit, takes the reins at Deutsche Bank, and Herbert Diess, a German, will head Volkswagen’s VW-brand autos division.
Both will wield considerable power, of course, but the mightiest man in German business is someone else.
His name is Henning Kagermann, the former chief executive of the world’s largest business software maker SAP, according to an annual ranking of the country’s top non-executive supervisory board members. Handelsblatt compiled the list in cooperation with Michael Wolff, an economics professor at Göttingen University.
You might call supervisory boards in Germany the bosses of the bosses. Members of these boards have the power to hire and fire a company’s managers – as seen recently with the appointment of Mr. Cryan – and wield considerable influence over the direction of a company. The supervisory board has to sign off on any key strategic decisions taken by managers. Many top supervisors sit on multiple company boards.
Mr. Kagermann heads the National Platform for Electric Mobility, an organization committed to establishing a mass market for electric cars in Germany, and has seats on the supervisory boards of BMW, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Post and re-insurer Munich Re, which are all blue chip firms in Germany.