Last month, a packed hall of students met Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. With nearly 77,000 employees and 300,000 customers in 190 countries, SAP is the world’s business software market leader. Bill is also the author of “Winners Dream: A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office”, where he shares his journey from teenage entrepreneur to global CEO.
Bill began his professional career at Xerox, where he worked for 17 years and rose through the ranks to become the company’s youngest corporate officer and division president. He joined SAP in 2002 to lead the North America business, and became the company’s co-CEO in 2010 and its sole CEO in 2014.
However, as a businessman, Bill started his journey at 17, just a little younger than our undergraduates, when he bought his first deli with $5,500 in loans. His promise to his creditors then – if he failed to make any of the repayments as scheduled, he would lose the deli. He paid them back, within two months, a total sum of $7,000, including interest. The deli paid his way through college, and was sold once that purpose was achieved.
If life was a deli, this is what Bill took away: