As president of the Americas and Asia Pacific Japan, Jennifer Morgan is responsible for SAP’s strategy, revenue, and customer success in regions encompassing more than 43,000 employees, nearly 230,000 customers, and more than half of SAP’s total annual revenues. As a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, she is deeply engaged in setting the company’s global strategy, increasing revenue and profit, and driving customer success around the world.
Morgan has been named one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Business and one of the Most Powerful Women in the World and Technology by Forbes. Today, she is launching a new podcast series, A Call to Lead. What’s it about? I asked.
A: It started with a leadership event, A Call to Lead, that we have each year at SAPPHIRE NOW, our largest annual customer and technology event. It’s become what I think is a truly world-class leadership gathering. We have on the stage short but really meaningful conversations with leaders to learn from their experiences. The podcast was my team’s idea, to allow more people to meet these leaders, take pieces of their journeys, and see what works best for them.
A: When I started my career 27 years ago, there were only a few different profiles of leadership. Most CEOs were male and they frequently fit a certain profile. Over the past five or 10 years, so many different types of leaders have emerged. That’s fascinating to someone like me, who always thought of my style as a bit different. Today, successful leaders tend to take their authentic self, wrap in a blend of their experiences, and create their own mold. I’ve found that to be very liberating. It gave me more confidence to be who I am, to not conform. And I’m hoping our listeners might find some of that same confidence.
A: I hope that it has broad appeal to anyone in leadership or interested in leadership, but it is particularly targeted at our emerging and next generation of leaders. Leaders today are not defined by an historic profile of what success was in the past — they look, feel, and behave differently than in the past. And the person that sits in my chair five or 10 years from now is very likely to be younger than I was when I ascended to this job. Leadership requires intellect, EQ, passion, and wisdom. Wisdom typically comes from time and experience. You can’t manufacture time, but you can share so many different experiences in an authentic and open way. I’m hoping these conversations and stories give emerging leaders the courage and the confidence to create their own colorful palette of leadership and gain inspiration and wisdom from the triumphs and mistakes of those who have gone before them.
A: It’s quite an array of different people: entrepreneurs, people who have reinvented themselves, CEOs of our most strategic customers and iconic brands. Many are people I’ve watched and admired and now I’m in a position to talk to them, or in some cases they’ve become friends. I have so many questions and I like having a give and take with them on their own journey! Why did this happen? Why did you do this? Why did you make that choice or that change?
A: One thing I started doing at the end of my own interviews—with President Obama or President Bush or other people—is lightning-round questions that tell you who they really are. Like, what are you streaming right now? What’s your favorite TV show? I’ve always been surprised by the funny things you learn about people. “Ask Jen Anything” is meant to be a lightning round on myself—questions from our employees or our customers to make it fun. To make it real. I expect to field some questions from our listeners, so if you want to ask me a question, tweet or DM me at @JenniferBMorgan, and use the hashtag #acalltolead.