by Loren G. Edelstein | October 16, 2014

SAP's global CEO, Bill McDermott, joined IMEX America in Las Vegas via live satellite on Tuesday, Oct. 14, coinciding with the launch of his book, Winners Dream. His overriding message to the media and meetings professionals: "Your industry is at the forefront of driving growth in the global economy. I truly believe that without meetings and the pageantry of events, you can't succeed." McDermott, head of the world's largest business software company, was interviewed by Kevin Olsen, President of One Smooth Stone, a friend and former business associate.

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. As outlined in his book, he stressed that at key points in his career, decisions to rethink the company's events strategy and invest in face-to-face experiences were at the core of his plans to achieve dramatic and sustained growth.

Among examples, McDermott discussed Sapphire Now, a SAP event that brings together "25,000 of our closest friends" plus another 250,000 virtual attendees. "It's an investment, and we can clearly measure the return on the top side," he said. "This desire to serve a market in imaginative ways is what separates the really good businesses from the also-rans. 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."

Here are brief highlights of the interview.