Yale School of Management

Jim Snabe, Chair of Møller Mærsk and Siemens, Calls on Big Business to Disrupt Itself

Leaders Forum


Speaking at the Yale School of Management on November 21, Jim Hagemann Snabe, chairman of the board, at A. P. Møller Mærsk and Siemens, and a member of the board of trustees at the World Economic Forum, called for a new generation of leaders who will reinvent global corporate giants to take on the challenges of today’s fast-evolving business landscape.

Technological advances and geopolitical changes have given rise to an era in which large corporations must “reinvent” themselves in order to keep pace with the market, Snabe said. Companies should not only be disrupted, but should also be part of the disruption, re-inventing from a position of strength, rather than defending their current position.

“People argue, ‘If ain’t broken, don’t fix it,’” Snabe said. “I say, ‘If it ain’t broken, consider fixing it first.’” 

In a talk centered around his “Dreams and Details” leadership model, Snabe, also former co-CEO of the software giant SAP AG, spoke as part of Yale SOM’s Leaders Forum lecture series, which brings the heads of organizations from across all sectors to Edward P. Evans Hall for discussions about the challenges and opportunities of leadership. Senior Associate Dean Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management, moderated the discussion during the event, which was also organized in collaboration with the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale.  

The era of big companies directing the marketplace alone is over, Snabe said: “Decentralization is going on. You see it everywhere.” And while large organizations are built to scale, today’s markets are all about the individualization of services and speed. “You need to be close to the market and the customers to stay relevant,” Snabe said.

In addition to reinventing their own practices to align with fast-changing markets, Snabe said, large companies should partner with startups, so that new ideas can be scaled most efficiently. 

“With that combination, I am convinced that we can solve the most significant problems of the world and scale them at speed,” he said. “We’re lucky to be leaders in times of such remarkable change, and I believe we have the technology to get them right—if we can re-invent our leadership.”

About the Event

Jim SnabeJim Snabe, Chairman of the Board, Mærsk and Siemens, and member of the Board of Trustees at World Economic Forum. The talk is entitled "Dreams and Details: Reinvent Your Business and Your Leadership from a Position of Strength."

This event is in collaboration with Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale and is open to the Yale community. Registration is required.

The Leaders Forum brings the heads of organizations from across all sectors to Edward P. Evans Hall for discussions about the challenges and opportunities of leadership.

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