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From Owning a Deli at 16 to Becoming CEO, Bill McDermott Lives the American Dream

From Owning a Deli at 16 to Becoming CEO, Bill McDermott Lives the American Dream

Bill McDermott is an American businessman and the CEO of SAP, the technology company based out of Germany that develops enterprise software. McDermott joined SAP as the CEO of its American division and later went on to become the co-CEO of the entire organization. Furthermore, in May 2014 he was made the sole CEO of SAP, becoming the only American to head a large European corporation.

McDermott had humble beginnings, hailing from a working-class family in Long Island. After having his first job at the young age of 11, he bought his own deli and improvised upon its working, making enough of off it to pay for his college education. After earning an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and completing in an Executive Development Program at the Wharton School of Business, McDermott worked as a sales representative for Xerox, working his way up to become the youngest President of a division at the company. Wanting a change of scene, McDermott left Xerox to take up the role of President of the consulting firm Gartner, before going over to serve as Executive Vice President of Siebel Systems.

After his short stint at Siebel, McDermott would go on to become the CEO of SAP’s division in America. After 2 years in this position, he was later appointed as co-CEO of the entire organization. In a span of an additional 4 years, Bill McDermott would ascend to the helm of power in SAP, taking up the mantle of sole CEO, becoming the first American to do so. Under his leadership, SAP’s market valuation went from $39 billion to over $144 billion. McDermott drove sales and development at his company, guiding its rise to attain the title of the second largest enterprise software provider after Oracle. It boasts of regional offices in 180 countries and employs over 88,543 people across the globe.

Bill embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship and steadfast leadership. His fighting spirit is evident from his response to a life-threatening accident suffered at his brother’s home. He fell down a flight of stairs while carrying a glass of water. The glass shattered and a shard went straight through his left eye. In spite of many surgeries, doctors could not restore vision and he was left one-eyed. But, just as is his nature, he did not let this incident deter him and resumed his duties at SAP after about two months and continues to do so.


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