SAP CEO gets personal with a BCIT crowd

On Monday, April 11, SAP CEO Bill McDermott spent an evening at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). He shared his business insights and talked about the journey he took from humble beginnings in Long Island to become CEO of one of the largest software companies on earth.

SAP has approximately 300,000 customers in 190 countries. Working with more than 77,000 employees, Bill has lead the charge into cloud computing, advanced analytics, and a recent $7.4 billion acquisition.

As a leading global tech company with an office in Vancouver, SAP has a close relationship with BCIT.

One initiative we’ve partnered on is the Centre of Excellence in Analytics (CEA). CEA is a joint initiative between SAP, the School of Business, and the School of Computing and Academic Studies. Its goal is to promote the field of analytics through education, applied research, industry projects, commercialization, and industry collaboration. It aims to support and grow the analytics sector here in BC.

Many BCIT students who have benefited from CEA—and were in the TELUS theatre Monday night—will work with SAP after graduation.

Another group of students in attendance have a few more years to go before they sign their SAP contracts. Templeton High School sent members of its STEM Academy to the talk. The program aims to get high school students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. It includes STEM courses along with integrated, cross-course projects and a one-year mentorship by SAP. It is a joint project between the Vancouver School Board, SAP, and BCIT. It’s also a powerful example of how BCIT works with industry to help British Columbia’s students find meaningful careers.

Tom Roemer, VP Academic; Lara Johnson, Associate VP, Marketing & Communications; Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP

“The connection we have with industry is one of BCIT’s biggest differentiators,” says Lara Johnson, the BCIT Associate Vice President, Marketing & Communications. “This remarkable evening with Bill McDermott provided the BCIT and Templeton students with an inspiring and memorable experience.”

Bill addressed the crowd in an engaging and generous manner. He spoke freely about mistakes he’s made and what he learned from them.

“Sometimes you can make a mistake,” he said. “You’ve got to find ways to fight through the pain of difficulties and disappointments and setbacks, because today’s setback might be tomorrow’s winner’s dream come true, and you’ll never know unless you have the resilience to stay with it. That is the truth.”

He then added, “As a person that lives for big decisions, I kindly ask you to be kind to yourself when you make decisions or when you have setbacks, because they’re happening for a reason. You just don’t know it yet.”

Moderated by BCIT Student Association President Dylan Smith, and emceed by BCIT VP Academic Tom Roemer, the evening was an inspiring event for everyone who attended (and streamed online).

Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP with StudensFollowing the talk, Bill stayed around to sign his book. The lineup was long, but he met and chatted with each person, posing for photos whenever asked.

Share what you got from the evening, using the hashtag #BillRMcDermottBCIT.

Photos of the event can be seen here.

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