A History of our Founder, Serge Kampf

It’s 1967 in Grenoble, France: Television broadcasts are in colour for the first time. The city is buzzing about the upcoming 1968 Winter Olympics. Inspired by these exciting technological and cultural changes, entrepreneur Serge Kampf decides the time is ripe to launch an IT company. And so began the Capgemini story.

 

Serge Kampf, founder of the Capgemini Group passed away on March 15, 2016. This web page gathers all tributes to him and reminds about his important legacy.

Paul Hermelin Shares A Moving Tribute to Serge Kampf

 

Tribute to Serge Kampf

Founder of the Capgemini Group

By Paul Hermelin, Chairman and CEO of Capgemini

He was a visionary and demanding rigorous leader, but he was also reserved, loyal, generous and considerate. All of the descriptions we have read honouring Serge Kampf are incredibly apt. And those fortunate enough to have known him, his family, friends and also, to a certain degree, the Group’s 180,000 employees can testify to this. Serge was an exceptional man. He was captivating and left no one indifferent. A leader who understood the evolution of our business from quite early on, his life was an extraordinary journey. Over nearly fifty years, he built the company from a two-room appartment in his hometown of Grenoble to being one of the global leaders in the ultra-competeitive world of IT services.

Serge Kampf inspired the dreams of generations of IT professionals. He instilled the Group with the drive to win with his genius and entrepreneurial passion. Capgemini has completed over 40 acquisitions and welcomed over 50 countries and cultures because of the organisational model invented by Serge Kampf. As decentralised as possible, this model transcends differences and respects everyone involved in this shared adventure. Throughout the 49 years that Serge dedicated to Capgemini, he also demonstrated that it was possible to build one of the largest companies in France and expand it across the world, with only a few key values serving as his compass. These seven values are what make us unique in the business world. Serge understood that a Group is only as strong as the resolute commitment of its employees. Therefore, he emphasised these same values in the men and women who worked at his side.

  • We begin with Honesty, which he considered a cardinal principle of the business world. Honesty has earned us recognition as one of the most ethical companies in the world for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Boldness, of course, with an appetite for taking measured risks. Boldness, which today has made us a powerful brand in Europe, the United States, Brazil and India.
  • Trust, which extends to all levels that of clients, without whom nothing is possible, but also the trust placed in our people and our teams, which engenders a reciprocal feeling of responsibility for their actions and decisions.
  • More surprising in the context of a large group, Freedom and the spirit of independence. As a value that was close to Serge’s heart, he felt that it should govern not only relationships between the Group and our clients, but also with our employees.
  • Team Spirit, or the ability to share the good and the bad with each other. For Serge, Team Spirit also often meant generosity, or even loyalty, which many of those who stood by his side bore witness to.
  • Modesty, which translates into the desire to focus on the essential, without jargon or emphasis. In a world full of hyperboles, he was particularly distrustful of the effects of fashion.
  • And finally, Fun, because despite his legendary demanding nature and his desire to see his teams surpass themselves, he was also concerned that everyone felt fulfilled and found pleasure in their work. Serge embodied these values with the conviction that, at Capgemini, we formed a “separate” community within our industry and that we would find success by being faithful to our principles.

Serge was also the perfect representation of what friendship could be. He was a friend to his colleagues and a friend to the world of rugby. Ultimately, he showed that you could create a global leader in business based on the principle of friendship. Capgemini has lost its founder. As you can see from the selection of remembrances on the fol¬lowing page, our pain is shared. All of the Group’s teams, myself included, are committed to keeping Serge’s teachings in mind: to continually strive to take Capgemini his Group further. This is how we will honour his memory. We owe it to him.

This Annual Report embodies one of the last professional conversations that I had with Serge. Always enthusiastic, Serge contributed to this document up to the last minute. He especially valued reflecting on the past year and the commitments and achievements of the men and women that make up Capgemini.

 

 

Just some of the messages received in remembrance of Serge Kampf (1934-2016)

A Group employee in France
“Serge Kampf was one of those people who believed in youand offered you the opportunity to make a fresh start, on the condition that you put in the energy, talent and commitment.”

Group employee in India 
“A great personality whose thoughts and actions benefited thousands of people across so many regions! I was fortunate enough to have met him during one of his visits to India.”

Jean-Loup Dabadie, Scriptwriter, songwriter, member of L’Académie Française 
“A tree has fallen…
A tree from our part of the country, a tree from his part of the country… A tree whose roots have grown far below the borders... a one century old tree trunk, or nearly so, a tough bark on which so many young people etched their hopes…
A tree has fallen..
Only yesterday, its immense branches, weighed down by the weight of life, carried fruit which always fell in the neighbour’s garden, as though by chance. Serge was a man of few words, a “silent”, as we say in our countryside that he loved. But his silences were so fertile that they brought us the downstrokes and the upstrokes of the human mind, wrath and forgiveness.
A tree has fallen..
At times it came up against headwinds, war winds. But Serge Kampf never left his land, never left his sky. Because he never gave up on the people we simply are.” 
(Translated from original text in French)

Emmanuel Macron
The French Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector@EmmanuelMacron 

“S. Kampf, industry leader and an exceptional entrepreneur, has left us. Our thoughts are with his family and Capgemini employees.”

A former Group employee 
“Serge was an exceptional human being, a visionary, demanding entrepreneur, for whom ethics, discretion and friendship were vital. As a boss, he was the best of the best and had an emotional intelligence that many people lack”.

Le Monde, March 15, 2016, Dominique Gallois 
“To those who asked him how to sell intelligence in the services industry, he answered, ‘You need sensitivity, emotion and heart. Being in business is like being in love; the important thing is to love - to love the employees and to love the clients.’ ”

Maurice Levy Publicis 
“He was a man of character, firm friendships, loyalty, and was an exceptional entrepreneur.”

 

 

The Group’s development under Serge Kampf’s leadership

The early years (1967-1975)

Serge Kampf founds Sogeti in 1967 in Grenoble. In 1975, with the acquisition of two IT services companies, CAP and Gemini Computer Systems, we become a leader in Europe with a presence in 21 countries.
 

The expansion years (1975-1989)

The Group continues to grow and focus on fields ranging from capital investment solutions to intellectual services. In 1989, internal restructuring, European expansion and penetration into the American market enable Capgemini to become one of the global leaders in this sector.
 

New growth strategies (1990-1997)

Capgemini develops its management consulting practice thanks to a series of acquisitions, including United Research (1990) and the Mac Group (1991) in the US. The Group also expand our activities in Europe through a number of acquisitions, such as that of Bossard in France. The acquisition of Ernst & Young Consulting in 2000 marks a turning point for the Group, strengthening our consulting practice and our presence in the US.
 

Building the future (1998 - Today)

At the end of the ‘90s, Capgemini begins its development in India, which results in 85,000 employees by the end of 2015. In 2002, Serge Kampf hands the role of CEO over to Paul Hermelin. In 2010, the Group adopts a new brand signature: “People matter, results count.” This phrase expresses our singular vision that technology be developed by and for its users in the service of business results. In 2012, after 45 years, Serge Kampf steps down from his role as Chairman at Capgemini. He proposes Paul Hermelin as his successor and remains active up until his passing away, as the Vice-Chairman of the Board.

 

Video Tribute to Serge Kampf and the Achievements of the Last 45 Years

History

Serge Kampf founded Sogeti, the company that would later become the Capgemini Group, on October 1st of that year. At the helm of the Group for 45 years, Kampf transformed the small company from southeastern France into a global industry leader in IT services.
 

Roots in the Alps

Born in Grenoble in 1934, Kampf received a double degree in Law and Economics before beginning his career in 1960 at the General Direction of Telecommunications in Paris. He then joined the Compagnie des Machines Bull, one of the leading global computer manufacturers at the time.

Kampf created Sogeti on October 1st, 1967 with three former colleagues in a two-room apartment converted into an office in Grenoble. In an era of technological and cultural change, Sogeti provided a visionary offer of IT services, combining technical and organisational consulting with customer proximity.

 

Original, Atypical, Undeterred

Thanks to Kampf’s strong initial choices, Sogeti enjoyed impressive growth. The company was an early provider of IT outsourcing and consulting, and enabled operational decentralisation, financial independence, and total freedom from IT manufacturers. This original and atypical strategy firmly established Sogeti in the IT services landscape and allowed it to grow into a leader in Europe.

By 1975 it had an established presence in 21 countries, following the acquisition of two major IT services companies, CAP and Gemini Computer Systems. In 1975 Kampf changed the Group’s name from Sogeti to “Cap Gemini Sogeti,” going against the opinion of most of those close to him. It would later be simplified to Capgemini in 1996.

The years following the name change were ones of conquest: the winning of new businesses, further development of consulting and services, moving into new markets, forming major alliances, and going public in 1988.

By 1989, the Group was seen as one of the world leaders in the IT sector. A discreet but influential entrepreneur, visionary, and man of great intellectual rigour, Serge Kampf stood out for his original management methods that made friends of employees and built on his devotion to a collective project.

In 2012, Kampf announced his departure from the presidency of Capgemini, 45 years after beginning his entrepreneurial journey. He passed away on March 15th, 2016, at the age of 81.

Tribute to Serge Kampf

 

A Lasting Legacy

Serge Kampf was a lifelong rugby fan and incorporated the values of his favourite sport into the Group he founded. He built the Capgemini as a truly collective project, always emphasising the importance of an authentic team spirit, discouraging the use of reprehensible or disloyal means to win a contract or obtain a favour, aiming to win and enabling those who followed him to win, and placing a high importance on keeping promises made to colleagues, clients, shareholders, and partners.

Serge Kampf’s high personal expectations, convictions, and commitments continue to influence and guide the Group he founded today and tomorrow.

 

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