SAP has nominated former Nokia president Pekka Ala-Pietilä to stand for election as chair of its supervisory board, proposing the respected tech industry executive as the designated successor to Chairman Prof. Dr. Hasso Plattner.

Ala-Pietilä will stand for election for a two-year term at the board’s annual general meeting, set for May 15. If elected, he will assume the role of chair, succeeding the SAP co-founder as Plattner’s two-decade term comes to a close. Plattner co-founded SAP in 1972, alongside colleagues Claus Wellenreuther, Hans-Werner Hector, Klaus Tschira, and Dietmar Hopp, and served as CEO from 1997 to 2003, then joining the supervisory board as chairman. His departure at the end of his current term in May 2024 was announced last February.

Punit Renjen, previously announced as chair designate, will resign from the supervisory board at the end of the next annual general meeting. Renjen, a former CEO of Deloitte, is leaving the board over “a difference in perspective on the role of SAP Supervisory Board chair,” according to SAP, which announced the shift in succession strategy in a Feb. 11 press release from its Walldorf, Germany headquarters.

A member of the SAP Supervisory Board from 2002 to 2021, Ala-Pietilä—who served as President of Nokia Corporation from 1999 to 2005—is currently chairman of the board of packaging company Huhtamaki, learning company Sanoma Corporation, and the HERE Technology supervisory board. He was also chairman of the EU Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence from 2018 to 2020, and chair of Finland's Artificial Intelligence Program from 2017 to 2019.

“After two decades at the helm of SAP SE, the company I've nurtured from its inception, ensuring a successful handover of the leadership baton is paramount to me and crucial for SAP's continued success,” said Prof. Dr. Hasso Plattner, Chairman since 2003, in an official statement. "In Pekka Ala-Pietilä, I recognize a leader who not only possesses a profound understanding of our industry and the intricacies of European SE governance, but also one who has been a steadfast ally through many of SAP's pivotal moments.”

In his own statement, Ala-Pietilä added, "I am grateful to the Supervisory Board of SAP and to Hasso Plattner for the opportunity to rejoin this dynamic European technology leader at such a pivotal time. Thanks to the great people at SAP, the company has set the global standard for enterprise technology for more than 50 years and is now a trailblazer in developing and deploying relevant, reliable, responsible Business AI that will fundamentally change the way business runs. I look forward to working together with colleagues old and new to build on SAP's track record of delivering revolutionary technology that drives real results.”

ASUG will continue to cover the evolution of the SAP Supervisory Board, which will meet next on May 15, to keep our members informed of SAP’s strategic direction.

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