“ I would say you can’t communicate too much in times like this ”
Christian CEO of SAP Klein was named co-CEO with Jennifer Morgan last April as the pandemic hit the world hard. Within six months, Morgan was gone and he was the only CEO, in charge of a legendary company at 38. In October, its stock price was down and the revenue forecast for the coming years was stable.
It’s certainly not how a CEO wants to start their tenure, but the pandemic has forced Klein to make certain decisions to move his clients to the cloud faster. This, in turn, impacted revenues until the transition was completed. While it makes sense to make that decision now, investors weren’t happy with the news.
There was also the decision to spin-out Qualtrics, the company its predecessor acquired for $ 8 billion in 2018. As he looked back on the one-year mark, Klein sat down with me. to discuss everything that happened and the unique set of challenges faced.
Just a pandemic, not much
Starting the same month as a global pandemic explodes presents unique challenges for a new leader. For starters, Klein couldn’t visit anyone in person and get to know the team. Instead, he went straight to Zoom and had to make sure everything was still working.
The CEO says the company has continued to move forward despite the disruption. “When I took on this new role, of course I had concerns about how to support 400,000 clients. After a year, I was amazed. Our support centers operate without interruption and we are proud of this and continue to provide value, ”he said.
Taking over when he couldn’t meet with employees or customers in person worked better than he thought. “It was much better than I expected, and of course personally for me it’s different. I’m the CEO, but I haven’t been able to travel and so I haven’t had the opportunity to go to the United States, and that’s something I’m looking forward to meeting now, meeting people people and talk to them live, ”he said.
This is something he just couldn’t do in his freshman year due to travel restrictions, so he says communication has been key, which many executives discussed during COVID. “I am in regular contact with the employees and we do it virtually. Still, it’s not the same as when you do it live, but it helps a lot these days. I would say you can’t communicate too much in times like this, ”he said.