Marketing director Julia White should bring SAP customers closer again

IT-Managerin Julia White

The American is switching from Microsoft to SAP and is supposed to realign marketing there.

(Foto: Getty Images for Microsoft)

Düsseldorf It is rare for presentations of new productivity solutions to go viral on the Internet. But that’s exactly what Julia White managed to do in 2014: Satya Nadella left her in one of his first public appearances as Microsoft-Chef show how the program package Office ran on the iPad.

The product manager White impressed with her dynamic appearance as well as with her casual leather jacket. The tech scene cheered them on Twitter, the “Business Insider” portal praised her as “the first really cool executive at Microsoft in years”.

Technical expertise and a refreshing appearance: the 47-year-old American will in future be commissioned by SAP deploy. The German group announced on Friday that it would take over the new Marketing and Solutions department, initially with a three-year contract.

After saying goodbye to Bill McDermott two years ago, who in his role as CEO also saw himself as the top brand ambassador, the group is now officially placing marketing on the board. The appointment of Julia White is part of the realignment of SAP, emphasized CEO Christian Klein in an interview with the Handelsblatt: It is “a very important piece of the puzzle in the new strategy”.

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His new colleague should better bring the portfolio closer to customers, especially solutions for cloud computing – and bring their needs more into the product development. It thus takes on a key role. Many in the industry are convinced that it is the right choice.

A microsoftee at SAP

White is a real “microsoft tea”, she spent a large part of her professional life there. She began her career in 1996 in Silicon Valley, at Intuit, but after completing a Masters at Harvard Business School, she moved to the Windows group, which was headquartered in Seattle two hours away by plane. She later said it was important to have a great influence.

She also got the influence, whether as a product manager for the Office program package, which she presented together with CEO Nadella, or, as was most recently responsible for product marketing for the Azure cloud platform – this infrastructure is used by numerous customers for digital transformation, which is what Microsoft stands for now at the center of the strategy, at least as much as Windows.

It is not surprising that White is now coming to SAP at Christian Klein’s request. “If you feel good, something is wrong – then you don’t try hard enough,” she was quoted a few years ago in a Microsoft blog. Now the American is leaving her own comfort zone, with a big career step to the board of the most valuable European technology company.

The task is attractive. Similar to Microsoft a few years ago, SAP is undergoing a transformation. The German software manufacturer is indispensable in the business world, but the switch to cloud computing is not yet complete, even after several large takeovers and various internal programs. At the same time, there is a new direction in marketing: Instead of the SAP brand, the focus should be on the products.

“Julia White is a great asset to SAP,” says Holger Müller, an analyst at Constellation Research and an expert in business software. The manager is able to present complex topics clearly and has excellent presentation skills. You can hear that she also has detailed technical knowledge and a good network. These are important qualifications for the new job.

Bill McDermott shaped marketing very much himself, says analyst Holger Müller. Christian Klein therefore needs a strong “Chief Marketing Officer” to put the topic back on the agenda – “and Julia White is very good”.

Larger presence in the US

At the same time, with the appointment, SAP is once again strengthening its presence in the USA. Since the farewell to co-boss Jennifer Morgan last year, the management has been very German and very masculine: No board member comes from the Dax Group’s most important individual market. In addition, the new sales manager Scott Russell, who has been responsible for the Asia-Pacific-Japan region to date, will be increasingly active in North America.

With the appointment, however, there are again changes at SAP, especially since there is also a change in sales with the departure from Adaire Fox-Martin. It should stay that way for the time being, emphasized CEO Christian Klein: “A company like SAP with over 100,000 employees is a good size with seven board members.”

More: Again restructuring of the board of directors at SAP – Julia White comes from Microsoft

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