Bill McDermott inspires Generation Innovation at London’s top university
March 11th 2014 and UCL students await the arrival of Bill McDermott, SAP CEO and a global advocate for the millennials generation – Generation Innovation. I don’t know what they expected but what I am fairly certain of is that they weren’t expecting a CEO who was so totally at ease among this generation of creative and dynamic minds and who was happy to share with them his own experiences on anything at all that they wanted to talk about.
The event was highly informal with Bill fielding questions from the students almost immediately. After a little initial star-struck syness the students began asking questions about Bill’s own background, what drives him and gives him focus but also questions about his reflections on the Millennials generation and their own ambitions. What was interesting for me having been involved with SAP’s University Alliances program for over ten years is how sincere and to-the-point the discussion was. The single message driven home time and again was the confidence that Bill has in this generation, its’ desire to change the world for the better and the fact that so many of the students in the audience are entrepreneurial in their thinking – a trend that I have noticed at other institutions around the world.
Bill mentioned time and again that circumstances will conspire to try and prevent you from achieving your dreams. Resources may become scarce, people will try to stop you from suceeding and sometimes it may seem that that dream is just too distant. But nothing is out of reach if you stay committed, if you stay focused and if you get up every day and work towards it. I think this really struck a chord with the students particularly as the second recurring theme for the day was entrepreneurialism and how the road less travelled is becoming the road that is far more interesting for so many young people. I think the students were also impressed by Bill’s argument that achievig dreams is not a zero-sum game – that when one person achieves their dream they can reinforce others – from one student: “A quote I will take away from the session is ‘In achieving your dream you will have to help others reach theirs along the way’ I thought this was great advice!”, Ellie Lamey SAP Intern
Vishal Sikka recently blogged about Intrapreneurialism and constant innovation within an organisation and it seems that in hiring some of these sharp minds and convinving them that SAP can be as good an entry point to a career full of posibility to disrupt and innovate SAP can achieve something very special. An environment where the best idea wins, and where Millennials can begin each day knowing that anything is possible – this from another of the students: “The chance to hear from both Bill and two successful young entrepreneurs at the same event was particularly inspiring, and proved that innovation is not just for the young! The genuine excitement all the panel members exuded was infectious and I doubt anyone in the audience didn’t leave feeling as though anything was possible.”, Sam Overton, SAP Intern
The day was truly an eye-opener for me. Not only was I on cloud nine that the students left the event feeling so motivated but that the discussion was held in such high regard by them. I wouldn’t be surprised if hidden in that group are some names that we will begin hearing about in the not-too-distant future and they may look back on Bill’s thoughts as the day their own belief really took flight – that anything is possible.