German software giant SAP has successfully operated on a co-leader model for many years, though this recently came to an abrupt end. For the last six months, Christian Klein and Jennifer Morgan guided the company as co-CEOs however the company announced Klein would become sole CEO from here on in.
“There are a lot of positives to this co-CEO model -- you can divide and conquer and you can share responsibilities,” Klein told Bloomberg in a call. “But in the crisis, we also saw the downside of this model.”
Klein mentioned that in planning SAP’s progression in the COVID-19 crisis, he and Morgan were “not on the same page” on a number of decisions. He also expressed that the pandemic exacerbated what seemed to already be a tense joint tenure. When the two went to the supervisory board to explain the impasse after failed attempts to come to an agreement, Morgan mutually agreed with the Supervisory Board of SAP to step down from her role as a co-CEO and depart the company effective 30th of April 2020, leaving Klein to carry on alone.
“I am grateful to Jennifer for her leadership of SAP, including all she has done for the company, our people, and our customers,” said Professor Hasso Plattner, chairman of the Supervisory Board of SAP SE. “This transition comes at a time of great uncertainty in the world, but I have full faith in Christian’s vision and capabilities in leading SAP forward toward continued profitable growth, innovation, and customer success.”
According to a source who asked to remain anonymous, the dual leadership structure was disorganized and often chaotic.
Klein’s role as the sole CEO expands his responsibilities as Chief Operating Officer and as a member of the Executive Board. He also oversees the role of COO, where he drives business process simplification, global IT, product and services quality, portfolio and investment strategy, intelligent data and analytics, and value achievement through digital innovation adoption for customers and employees at the forefront.
Morgan joined SAP in 2004 and was appointed co-chief executive officer together with Klein in 2019. Prior to this, she was President of the Cloud Business Group, overseeing Qualtrics, SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Customer Experience, and SAP Concur.