Meet the 5 seasoned tech execs SAP has poached from Cisco, Lenovo, Microsoft, and Salesforce in the last five months in its bid to become a stronger cloud player

  • In the last five months SAP has hired seasoned tech executives from Microsoft, Salesforce, Cisco, and Lenovo as the tech giant pushes for a bigger presence in enterprise cloud.
  • SAP's new top executives include Anu Kapur, Cisco's former chief strategy officer and Xu Fei Yu, former Lenovo vice president of research, among others. 
  • "It's a reflection of the fact that we all saw something special in SAP," Kapur told Business Insider. 
  • Meet the 5 veteran tech executives who just joined SAP's leadership team:
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's been a challenging year for SAP, marked by big, sometimes abrupt, leadership changes.

A year ago, the German software giant named two veteran execs — Christian Klein and Jennifer Morgan — to serve as co-CEOs after longtime chief Bill McDermott stepped down. Six months later, Morgan suddenly left just as the pandemic was starting to upend the global economy, leaving Klein as SAP's solo CEO.

The changes have continued, but it hasn't been all departures. Over the past few months, SAP has made five big hires, luring executives from Cisco, Lenovo, and even rivals Microsoft and Salesforce.

One of them was Anuj Kapur, Cisco's former chief strategy officer, who was recruited to become SAP's new president of corporate development and strategy in July.

"It's a reflection of the fact that we all saw something special in SAP," he told Business Insider of the spate of new hires. 

SAP, founded in 1972, is dominant in the market for enterprise software used in private data centers. Like other traditional enterprise tech giants, it's facing stronger rivals in the enterprise cloud market, primarily Microsoft and Salesforce in this case. 

But SAP's big hires highlight the company's bid to play a bigger role in cloud.

"The journey that SAP is going to be on over the next five years we think will be a little bit different to the journey that it's been on over the last 50," Kapur said. "Honestly, when I came in, I did not know that there would be external hires from companies that have the caliber of Salesforce, Microsoft, and Lenovo. So I'm very excited to be part of that core group of individuals."

Here are five seasoned tech executives who recently joined SAP's leadership team:

Anuj Kapur served as Cisco's chief strategy officer and now is SAP's president of corporate development and strategy

Previous title: Cisco's chief strategy officer 

Current title at SAP: President of corporate development and strategy

Reports to: CEO Christian Klein

Anuj Kapur had a long career at Cisco which he joined in 2005 and was serving as the networking giant's chief strategy officer when he got the call inviting him to join SAP in July.

Like Cisco, SAP has had to adapt to the rise of the cloud, which let businesses run their networks on web-based platforms, making it possible to scale down or even abandon private data centers. That trend disrupted the businesses of traditional tech companies including SAP, which became a powerhouse selling software installed in in-house data centers.

"Starting in 2012, companies that started prior to that era recognized that it was a shift happening in the marketplace towards more subscription orientation and delivery," he told Business Insider.

Kapur suggested that joining SAP was an unexpected move for him. Being part of the SAP team that's "defining what the next chapter would look like" was his "primary motivation" for saying yes when the software behemoth reach out to offer him the new role, he said.

"Cisco is a great company and Chuck's a great leader," he said. "Had the call not come I would have been happy at Cisco, and it would have been an honor to continue to be part of Chuck's leadership team at Cisco."

Sabine Bendiek served as CEO of Microsoft Germany and is set to become SAP's chief people officer and chief operating officer

Previous title: CEO of Microsoft Germany

Pending title at SAP: Chief people officer, chief operating officer 

Reports to: SAP supervisory board

Sabine Bendiek has had a distinguished career in tech, including long stints at Dell, EMC, and Microsoft. She clearly stands out because of her record in enterprise cloud.

When SAP announced that she will be joining the tech giant in early 2021, the company noted that Bendiek's role in spearheading Microsoft Germany's cloud growth in 2020, which boosted the SAP rival's position in that country.

Bendiek is poised to play major roles at SAP: She will first take on the post of chief people officer when she joins SAP in early 2021. After six months, she will also become the company's chief operating officer.

 

Feiyu Xu led Lenovo's AI research and is now SAP's global head of AI

Previous title: Lenovo vice president and head of AI Lab at Lenovo Research

Current title at SAP: Senior vice president and global head of AI

Reports to: Chief technology officer Juergen Mueller

Feiyu Xu led hardware giant Lenovo's AI Lab before joining SAP in May.  She is a respected academic and researcher with a PhD in computational linguistics from Saarland University in Germany.  Xu is also considered an expert in major AI fields, including natural language processing.

Kapur, SAP's new president for business development, said Xu is known for the "operational and process improvement she drove at a company that is as complex and as global as Lenovo."

 

 

 

 

 

Joanna Milliken was a Salesforce senior vice president for marketing cloud and is now SAP's head of marketing cloud

Previous title: Salesforce senior vice president for marketing cloud

Current title at SAP: Head of marketing cloud

Reports to: President of customer experience Bob Stutz 

Joanna Milliken led Salesforce's marketing cloud business before joining SAP in August. She is leading an important business where SAP is facing off with aggressive competitors, including Salesforce and Oracle.

Milliken is a veteran digital marketing executive who has seen the impact of new technologies — led by AI — on the industry.

 

 

John Wookey was Salesforce's executive vice president for industry applications and is now SAP's president of intelligent spend and business network

Previous title: Salesforce executive vice president for industry applications

Current title at SAP: President, intelligent spend and business network

Reports to: Head of SAP product engineering, Thomas Saueressig

John Wookey worked for 12 years at Oracle, before joining SAP in 2008. He them moved to Salesforce in 2011 and served as executive vice president of industry applications until 2018. 

He rejoined SAP in September to lead the company's intelligent spend and business network, which helps customers manage their financial, procurement and supply chain operations.

 

 

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