SAP CEO Bill McDermott on the Power of Meetings

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Bill McDermott: “I can think of no better way to bring people together and coalesce them around a movement than a great meeting.”

During his session at Prevue’s Transforming Meetings Summit earlier this month at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Eric Rozenberg, CEO of Swantegy, shared examples from his new book of C-level executives, such as SAP’s Bill McDermott, who understand how to use meetings to achieve their goals—and of others who don’t.

Bill McDermott’s views on meetings are inspiring. In an interview in the book with Kevin Olsen, CEO of Keyway LLC, founder of One Smooth Stone and Rozenberg’s business partner, he shares his philosophy.

“I totally believe that the pageantry associated with a great meeting or a great event inspires people to achieve goals and aspirations and dreams they could never have dreamt of in an email or some internal boring meeting or conference call. So I always tried to create a movement.

“And if you want to double a business, if you want to get buy-in from people and if you want to move the economy forward, you’ve gotta think big. I can think of no better way to bring people together and coalesce them around a movement than a great meeting or an unbelievable event that celebrates the pageantry of what leadership is all about.

“But also to add to the learning, you’ve got to have unbelievable keynotes where you’re not boring and reciting the company rulebook. You’re actually touching on the thought leadership that you think is moving the planet forward.

“And then finally we want to entertain the customer with the best possible entertainment in the world. And yeah, it costs something to entertain people. But what investment could I make that could possibly be better?”

For more C-Level perspectives on meetings and Rozenberg’s examples of how to distill and achieve their goals, check out his book, Meeting at C-Level: An Executive’s Guide for Driving Strategy and Helping the Rest of Us Figure Out What the Boss Wants.  


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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.