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Case Title:

Leadership Transition at SAP: Testing Time for Leo Apotheker

Publication Year : 2010

Authors: P Sheth, J Thadamalla and S Gollapalli

Industry: Information Technology and IT Enabled Services


Case Code: LDS0042IRC

Teaching Note: Not Available

Structured Assignment:  Not Available

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With the aim of preparing Leo Apotheker, a board member and Deputy Chief Executive, as the next CEO, Henning Kagermann, SAP's executive board's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), requested the supervisory board to appoint Leo as co-CEO. In the past, the same pattern of leadership transition was adopted by SAP for grooming successors at SAP. Leo would work with Henning as co-CEO at SAP for a year before taking over as sole CEO of the company. Henning's contract with SAP expires in May 2009. Moreover, SAP had invested heavily to create trendsetting innovations in the areas of service-oriented architecture (SOA), new solutions and business models for the mid-market, but it faced challenges from its nearest competitors like Oracle, which is moving fast ahead in SOA. For executing its strategy, SAP was looking forward to Leo, who was different from the previous bosses of SAP as he was neither a member of the founder's generation nor a geek. Leo had a strong sales background. The case facilitates discussion on the leadership transition at SAP and Leo's ability to rise to the occasion.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To leadership transition at SAP and succession planning.
  • To culture changes in the organisation.
  • To opportunities and challenges for business growth.

Keywords :  SAP, Leo Apotheker, Henning Kagermann, Significance of leadership, Leadership transition, Problems involved in leadership, Managing leadership transition, Succession planning, Corporate restructuring, Business transformation, Cultural changes, Leadership traits, Oracle, IBM

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