The designated new chairman of SAP's board of directors will be an active controller. Punit Renjen made this clear during his brief introduction at the shareholders' meeting in Mannheim. His goal is to lead the company into the future with passion and to unleash the potential that still lies dormant in SAP, he says.

Bernd Freytag

Economic correspondent Rhein-Neckar-Saar, based in Mainz.

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The election of the former Deloitte boss to the supervisory board is considered certain. Next year, he is expected to replace SAP founder Hasso Plattner as head of the supervisory body. This means that the last of the founders is disembarking. For SAP, Germany's most valuable listed company, this is a turning point.

Renjen said Plattner is an icon and legend. The footsteps he is following could not be greater. At the same time, he makes it clear that a new era will begin with him. "I'm not Hasso Plattner and I'm not going to try to be Hasso Plattner." With self-confidence and pride, the 61-year-old American referred to his path from his birthplace, the small Indian town of Rohtak, to a scholarship to study in America, which led him to 36 years at Deloitte, a consulting giant with more than 400,000 employees.

Renjen has already got to know SAP as a consultant

In his seven years as Deloitte CEO, sales have risen from $35 billion to more than $60 billion. Through his work as a consultant, he knows SAP and the ecosystem well from the customer's point of view and he also knows "where there are still problems". At the same time, SAP is a company with "cult status" and an "incredible heritage". He had never dared to dream that he, the boy from Rohtak, could now become chairman of the supervisory board of such a company.

In a letter to shareholders, Plattner had described his successor, Renjen, as an excellent candidate "to take over as chairman at a time when SAP is undergoing the most fundamental strategic change in its 50-year history." Renjen has valuable experience of the needs of companies in the fast-paced business environment and is "therefore a real asset for SAP".

He himself wants to use the time after the election for training in order to ensure a smooth transition. "I have asked him to pester me with questions and will do everything I can to ensure an orderly handover." The 79-year-old Plattner has chaired the Supervisory Board since 2003 and, to the annoyance of many investors, has postponed his succession several times despite his advanced age.

Dual role as controller and founder figure

As one of five co-founders, he is more than just a simple overseer. At the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) in Potsdam, which he founded, important technological innovations for SAP are still being devised today. Plattner justified the delayed transition, among other things, by saying that continuity is required, especially in times of crisis.

However, potential candidates have also struggled or have been found too easy by Plattner over time. Former CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe, who has long been touted as his successor, is now chairman of the supervisory board of Siemens. S

At the latest when Plattner extended his contract once again, it was clear to observers that the veteran SAP board member Gerhard Oswald would not succeed him as head of the supervisory body. Finally, Rouven Westphal, confidant and managing director of his foundation, was elected to the Supervisory Board in 2021, but he lacks international clout.