As SAP chairman Hasso Plattner enters the final year of his legendary adventure, two key members of the new leadership team assembled by CEO Christian Klein have agreed to 3-year contract extensions as Klein builds out an executive cohort purpose-built for SAP’s cloud-centric digital future.
While iconic co-founder Plattner will always be associated with SAP and its long-time dominance of the enterprise-apps category, the new SAP requires a different mindset, outlook, and culture here in the high-velocity and customer-driven world of the cloud.
Klein has been the unquestioned architect of the 2-1/2-year transformation that has turned SAP into one of the world’s fastest-growing major cloud providers, with cloud-revenue growth exceeding 30% throughout 2022. And while it would be absurd to think that Plattner has been simply a silent partner during those momentous changes — after all, in addition to being chairman, Plattner is also Chief Software Advisor, a title that covers a whole lotta ground in a software company — Plattner has definitely kept a low profile during that time to allow Klein to take and earn the right to keep the spotlight.
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So as the leadership transfer — both formal and informal — from Plattner to Klein begins to take place regardless of the titles involved, Klein has led and Plattner has supported a major overhaul of the top-level leadership team within SAP. Here are the key details:
- Two months ago, SAP said that Plattner will step down as chairman in 2024 (for more on that, please see my analysis in SAP Ultimate Transformation: Iconic Chairman Hasso Plattner to Step Down)
- A few weeks ago, SAP announced it had extended the contracts through 2026 for chief marketing and solutions officer Julia White and head of sales and customer success Scott Russell, both of whom were put in those positions by Klein and are members of the company’s Executive Board. White has led a sweeping overhaul of SAP’s marketing organization and approaches, and Russell has led SAP’s emergence as a high-growth cloud powerhouse as not only large existing customers but also small and mid-sized companies have embraced SAP’s cloud solutions, particularly S/4HANA Cloud.
- Early last year, SAP extended through October 2025 the contract of Executive Board member Thomas Sauressig, who leads product engineering and has been given more prominence and visibility by Klein. Sauressig has artfully led the company’s unconditional transformation from an on-premises icon to a highly regarded supplier of an end-to-end portfolio of cloud solutions.
- About seven weeks ago, Dominik Asam became CFO at SAP after serving in that capacity at Airbus and Infineon Technologies. Asam replaced longtime SAP CFO Luka Mucic, whose departure was planned several months in advance to allow for an orderly transition as Klein led the search for a replacement. In the press release announcing Asam’s appointment, Klein said, “The breadth and depth of his expertise in global finance and technology aligns perfectly to SAP’s strategy and portfolio, as we continue innovating in the cloud to bring sustainability to the center of business, make supply chains more resilient, and future-proof our customers around the world.”
As I’ve mentioned before, while SAP has named Deloitte CEO Punit Renjen to succeed Plattner in the role of chairman of its supervisory board, no one can ever replace Plattner as a visionary leader and culture-shaper.
But Klein is emerging as someone who can become the new animating force of SAP across the company and in the eyes of its customers and partners. The new executive team around Klein has been largely hand-picked by him and reflects his views on where the company needs to go in its second half-century to be even more successful than it was in the first.
It’s another big step forward for what is indeed the new SAP.