Will SAP’s Bill McDermott Enter US Presidential Race?

“It doesn’t hurt that he would have the best hair of all of the current candidates.”

With the leading candidates of both US presidential parties out of favor with a majority of the electorate, there is renewed speculation that SAP CEO Bill McDermott may enter the US presidential race as either an independent or third-party candidate.

Clearly one of the most unusual primary seasons ever experienced by the American electorate, large numbers of voters are expressing their discontent with the status quo in Washington, casting votes for “outsider” candidates like Democrat Bernie Sanders or Republican Donald Trump.

According to Reuters, Bill McDermott “received compensation for 2015 including salary, benefits and short- and long-term incentives of 9.28 million euros ($10.40 million), up nearly 15 percent over 2014”. Although the chief executive of the United States earns a mere fraction of what a tech CEO makes, business-minded candidates from Ross Perot to Mitt Romney to Carly Fiorina have sought the office for more altruistic reasons than just compensation. In this election cycle, other high-profile business leaders from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to former New York mayor and businessman Michael Bloomberg have given the idea some consideration.

Should McDermott choose to enter the race, there would be a renewed emphasis on the use of technology in US elections. A secret team of elite data scientists and the world’s largest SAP HANA system- code named Event Horizon– are already at work analyzing voter demographics in an unassuming office building just minutes from SAP’s technology labs in Palo Alto, California.

An unnamed spokesperson who wasn’t authorized to speak publically about the matter said “Should he chose to run, we have a candidate who is a true leader on a global stage. He has a track record of bringing a positive approach to difficult problems and would do so for the problems currently facing the United States. His campaign style would be a sharp contrast to what Americans have seen so far in the primaries. And it doesn’t hurt that he would have the best hair of all of the current candidates.”

SAP just extended contracts for its executive team until 2021, but it’s unclear if that’s enough to keep Mr. McDermott out of the race. SAP spokesperson April Erste would only offer a terse “It is our policy not to comment on rumors or speculation,” when asked about the potential candidacy.

Winners Dream

Bill McDermott’s Winners Dream is an inspiring life story and a must-read for SAP users.

Winners Dream by SAP CEO Bill McDermott (October 2014, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1-4767-6108-4) chronicles his story from a working class neighborhood in New York to the corner office of one of the world’s most respected software companies.

winner – noun – one that is successful especially through praiseworthy ability and hard work

dream – verb – to think about something that you wish would happen or something that you want to do or be

The book is biographical, chronicling the “journey from corner store to corner office,” according to the book’s subtitle. It’s an inspirational tale because Bill McDermott was not a child of privilege- he has clearly worked hard for every milestone of success in his career.

“Mr. Fullwood, I don’t think you completely understand the situation.” I pause, and then explain. “I told my father as I left him at the train station today, that I guaranteed that I would come home tonight with my employee badge in my pocket. In twenty-one years, I’ve never broken a promise to my dad, and I can’t start now.” Silence. I don’t fill it. Mr. Fullwood looks at me with his head kind of tilted, like a puppy waiting to see what I’m going to do next, but I don’t make the next move.

As an analytics professional, with “classic BusinessObjects” pedigree, I never paid much attention to who was helming SAP. I spent more time studying the analytics roadmap and the ever-changing series of mid-level executives who created it. But there’s a lot to learn from here. Although Mr. McDermott was never the CEO of Xerox, he learned first-hand that a highly successful organization that buries its head in the sand might fade into irrelevance, which explains his passion for casting clear visions (via simple memorable phrases like “on demand, on premise, on device”) and pushing SAP into new frontiers like in-memory and cloud computing. It’s all about being “consumed with what people wanted and how I could give it to them,” whether as a teen-aged deli owner, an entry-level sales rep, a mid-level manager or CEO. Those looking for dirt about the inner workings of SAP won’t find it here. Instead, you’ll find relentless optimism from a business leader with a well-developed emotional intelligence and a positive outlook on work and life.

If your career depends on using SAP software, it’s time well-spent reading to learn more about the man currently leading the company.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”