William McDermott stands out as one of the most enterprising men to enter international business in the last few years. He served in many executive positions before being recruited for a CEO position with SAP – a multinational enterprise software corporation – back in 2002. He took their offer, becoming CEO of SAP America. This corporation is a subsidiary of the multinational parent company, SAP SE. It was only six years later that he was appointed to the SAP SE Executive Board, and only another six until he was promoted to CEO of SAP SE.
Bill McDermott is a brilliant businessman and a prime example of the American entrepreneurial spirit. He has also led a fascinating life, the details of which are not commonly known. So, without further delay, here’s Ten Things You Didn’t Know about William McDermott.
He Started in Poverty
One of the best things about Bill McDermott is that he has truly lived the American Dream. His tale is a classic rags-to-riches story. When he was younger, his father, Bill Sr., worked at Con Edison as a power maintenance specialist. However, even though Bill Sr. took every overtime shift that was offered to him, the McDermotts still found themselves living paycheck to paycheck. Their house was even so dilapidated that the floor flooded every time that it rained!
He Started a Business at 11
Ever since he took his first job at eleven years old – a paper route – Bill McDermott has focused on providing the best experience he can for his customers. For example, he made sure to get to know everyone on his route so that he could deliver their paper the way they wanted it delivered. And it worked. McDermott started his first business off of the income from his paper route. He sold newspapers, greeting cards, cookies, and other products, finding great success for an eleven-year-old. Clearly, he was made for business.
He Put Himself Through College
A few years after he started this first little business, he managed to procure a deli at only sixteen years old. McDermott purchased Country Deli for $7,000 in promissory notes after talking the previous owner (and his suppliers) into a revenue-sharing agreement. The deli was so successful thanks to his management skills that he was able to completely pay for his Business Management degree at Dowling College. He later sold the deli for enough money to not only pay off his loans, but even buy his parents their own house in Myrtle Beach.
He Was the Youngest Division President at Xerox
Bill got his start in the corporate world with a sales position at Xerox. After seventeen years of hard work in the sales department, Bill made his way up the ladder to become Division President of Xerox’s sales division. He was the youngest person to ever be promoted to this role, at only 36 years old. It was an incredibly promising start to a long and lucrative career, ending with him at the helm of the multinational corporate giant that he leads today.
His Grandfather Was Famous
If you’re a basketball fan, you may have heard of Bobby McDermott. He was a professional basketball player in the 1930s and 1940s known for his top-tier shooting skills. In fact, he has been hailed as one of the best long-distance shooters in the history of basketball. He also just so happens to be Bill McDermott’s grandfather. It is not surprising that they both ended up in the top of their fields – hard work and perseverance do pay off.
He is the First American to Head SAP SE
SAP SE is a multinational corporation based in Germany. Though it employs people from all over the world, with over 180 countries having regional offices, the company had never had an American CEO. Bill McDermott was bound to break that streak. When he became CEO in 2014, he also became the first American to hold this coveted position at the multinational giant.
He is the Highest-Paid CEO on the German Stock Market
In 2016, Bill McDermott’s earnings as the head of SAP SE exceeded €11.9 million, or about $14 million. Thus, he made over €4 million more than his nearest competitor, Dieter Zetsche – the head of automotive corporation Daimler AG. This American is making waves in Germany, shooting to the top of the DAX (German stock index) only two years after making CEO of SAP SE.
He’s an Accomplished Author
Bill McDermott’s book, Winners Dream: A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office, is a memoir about his rise to success via his perseverance and entrepreneurial efforts. The book was published by Simon & Schuster in 2014, shortly after his promotion to CEO at SAP SE. It was well-received critically, even winning a gold medal in the memoir/biography section of the 8th Annual Axiom Business Book Awards. It turns out that writing the book was another solid move for this savvy businessman, further cementing his place at the top!
His Wife Survived Breast Cancer
Cancer has had an unfortunate toll on Bill McDermott’s life. His wife fought breast cancer for six months while he was working at Xerox. Luckily, she ended up going into remission and surviving the disease. However, his mother died from pancreatic cancer some time later. McDermott wants to help other people whose lives have been harmed by the deadly illness. That’s why he set up the Kathleen McDermott Foundation, a charitable organization that seeks to find new treatments for the illness that claimed his mother’s life.
He Lost an Eye
The powerful CEO of the multinational enterprise software corporation only has one functional eye. In 2015, he was visiting his father on his 76th birthday. When he was walking down the stairs, he slipped and fell face first onto the glass tumbler he was carrying. The glass shattered, smashing into his eye socket and slashing his face. Though he went to the hospital, they were unable to salvage his eye, instead electing to fit him with a prosthetic. But McDermott wouldn’t let it keep him down: he returned to work only two months after the unfortunate accident.
As you can see, Bill McDermott is more than just a faceless CEO of multinational supergiant SAP SE. He is the embodiment of the American Dream, with a rags-to-riches story that can resonate with any American.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker