On the day his book, Winners Dream, launched in the US, Bill McDermott, Global CEO of SAP, the world’s largest business software company, told members of the meetings and events industry gathered at IMEX America in Las Vegas: “Your industry is at the forefront of driving growth in the global economy.”

Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP (courtesy image)

Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP (courtesy image)

McDermott was interviewed live by satellite during IMEX America (Oct 14) from New York by Kevin Olsen, President of One Smooth Stone, a long-time friend and business associate of McDermott’s.

Speaking to a room packed with meetings industry leaders and members of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, McDermott proved a passionate and powerful advocate for the value of live events and large scale meetings as a tool for profit generation.

Olsen teased out some of the tipping points in McDermott’s career when decisions to stage live events changed the direction of the company he headed. Harking back to McDermott’s early days leading SAP America, McDermott explained how he set out to achieve ten times more growth over 3 years than had been achieved in the previous three, partly by rethinking the company’s entire events strategy.

McDermott added: “During my time at Xerox I’d learned that you have to bring people together….you can’t motivate for growth by using email!”

In the interview Olsen elaborated on the themes that have dominated McDermott’s career from teenage deli owner to top flight CEO: empathy, imagination, focus on customers and courageous leadership.

Talking about Sapphire Now, the SAP event that regularly brings together 25,000 customers plus another 250,000 virtual attendees, McDermott explained the importance of designing the event around customers’ needs. “It’s an investment and we can clearly measure the return on the top side. This desire to serve a market in imaginative ways is what separates the really good businesses from the also-rans,” he said. “Who wouldn’t be proud of running a world class meeting or a world class event…once you bring people together the world is never the same again.”

Speaking afterwards David Peckinpaugh, President, Maritz Travel and Larry Luteran, Senior VP Group Sales & Industry Relations, Hilton Worldwide talked about the evolution of the Meetings Mean Business Campaign and the significance of McDermott’s declared support for the industry.

Peckinpaugh said: “We could not have crafted a better message from a CEO than that. What board could refuse such a passionate pitch?” Co-chair Larry Luteran added “As an industry we are now playing offense where we were once on defense. We are all here to spread the word that when people come together something magical happens.”

IMEX CEO, Carina Bauer, closed the event by urging the wider industry and MMBC members to use and share the edited interview with their stakeholders and communities. The interview can be seen on the IMEX YouTube Channel – http://youtu.be/1oOJEF1yZDA

For more information see www.winnersdream.org or follow @winnersdream #winnersdream and @BillRMcDermott.