Former SAP COO, Melissa Di Donato, appointed CEO of SUSE

Melissa Di Donato, accomplished technology executive and former SAP leader, has been named chief executive officer of SUSE — the world’s largest independent open source software company. She will lead the next phase of growth and momentum.

Di Donato has a proven track record in sales, business operations and leadership focused on high growth and transformation. Prior to SUSE, she was chief operating officer and chief revenue officer at SAP where she was responsible for the worldwide revenue, profit and customer satisfaction of the company’s digital core solutions. She also held senior executive positions at Salesforce and was recognised for her contributions to growing global organisations by winning the 2018 Digital Masters Award for Excellence in Commercial Management. Di Donato was also a finalist in the Women of the Year category at Information Age’s Women in IT Awards — the largest diversity technology event in the world.

There is still a significant shortfall in the number of women in the top positions compared to their male counterparts — but, Di Donato was not appointed because of her gender. She is highly regarded for her forward-thinking leadership style and is a passionate advocate for workplace diversity — this includes her role as technology group chair of the 30% Club, an organisation with the goal of achieving 30% female directors on S&P 100 boards by 2020. She also holds prominent positions in other organisations, including Notion Capital, and is a trustee for charity Founders4Schools.

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First female CEO

UK-based Di Donato will be SUSE’s first female CEO, effective 5th August.

“There is no greater honour than to lead SUSE into its next chapter of accelerated growth and corporate development,” she said. “SUSE is at the cusp of a historic shift as open source software is now a critical part of any thriving enterprise’s core business strategy. We are well positioned to emerge as the clear leader of this shift, with our ability to power digital transformation for our customers at their own pace and with agile, enterprise-grade open source solutions, edge to core to cloud. What is unmistakable is our unlimited ability to deliver value to our community, customers, partners and shareholders – all of whom have been the bedrock of SUSE’s success. As exciting as SUSE’s growth and innovation have been over the past several years, we are just getting started.”

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Di Donato succeeds Nils Brauckmann, who today announced his retirement. During his tenure as CEO of SUSE, Brauckmann delivered eight years of continuous expansion including a substantial increase during FY18, a year which saw record-breaking revenues.

Presiding over SUSE’s transition to a standalone organisation is Brauckmann’s final accomplishment as CEO as he hands over the reins to a new CEO in an aptly timed leadership succession.

“I am incredibly proud of SUSE’s progress and growth over the last eight years, which has culminated in it securing independent status,” Brauckmann said. “With this chapter of SUSE’s corporate development complete, I could not be more pleased to hand off the leadership of SUSE to Melissa. She is a proven and dynamic change agent, and many of her achievements have occurred in subscription businesses that exist in high-growth cloud environments. Melissa is someone I am confident will lead SUSE to realise its fullest potential.”

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Growth and expansion

Under Di Donato’s leadership, SUSE will continue to focus on growth and expansion with the backing of growth investor EQT, a leading investment firm with more than EUR61 billion in raised capital.

As the company’s new CEO, she will focus on SUSE’s commercial success and innovation in its core business as well as in emerging technologies, both organically and through add-on acquisitions. SUSE’s independence will continue to be aligned with a single-minded focus on delivering what is best for customers and partners, coupled with full control over its own destiny.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Nils for his deep dedication and all his accomplishments as SUSE’s CEO,” said Jonas Persson, chairman of SUSE’s Board. “Nils has successfully led the company to what it is today, and he hands over the business in good shape, with 2018 in many ways marking a top year in the company’s history. SUSE is well positioned to capitalise on its status as the world’s largest independent open source company, powering digital transformation with agile, enterprise-grade open source solutions, edge to core to cloud. In Melissa Di Donato I am confident we have found an outstanding CEO with a proven track record of success that speaks for itself. It is expected that SUSE’s delivery against its mission will gain pace under Melissa’s leadership.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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