Punit Renjen’s nomination as the designated successor to Chairman Hasso Plattner at SAP comes at a time when the enterprise resource planning software firm is undergoing the most fundamental strategic transformation in its 50-year history.

One may think that moving from being the CEO of global consultancy firm Deloitte, to being the Chairman of a software company could be challenging. But for Renjen, this is not new. From being a worker at his father’s factory in Rohtak, Haryana to being appointed as Deloitte’s global CEO in 2015, Renjen’s journey has been full of challenges. His first major challenge came when he was just 14 after his father’s business collapsed.  “My father couldn’t afford to send me to any other college, so I went to the college in my local town,” he said in a 2015 interview. 

His big break came in 1984 when he won a Rotary Foundation Scholarship that offered him a seat at Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management. While he was still in the B-school, a local magazine profiled Renjen as one of the 10 best students. That magazine was picked up by a Deloitte partner on a flight, who called Renjen for an interview after reading his profile. Renjen got the job as an analyst and never left the company until he retired in 2022 as its Chairman. Renjen developed and executed a strategy that resulted in Deloitte revenues growing from $35 billion to more than $59 billion in just seven years.

Hard work pays

“Hard work inspires passion. I tried to work harder than anyone I knew. I still do. And when I began to master what I was doing every day, I found that I loved my profession,” Ranjen wrote in a LinkedIn post in December 2022.

He takes a lot of inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi. In Renjen’s eyes, Gandhi was perhaps the most selfless leader. “Like Gandhi, Renjen leads from the front and bases his leadership on transparency in character and communication,” said a former Deloitte executive. 

Renjen’s nomination at SAP comes at a time when the software company is working its way through a market that has many new competitors. The biggest challenge for Renjen would be to put in place a strategy that will define the future of ERP in an era of a fast-changing technological landscape.