For Paul Hermelin, Chairman and CEO of the Capgemini Group: “Serge was an extraordinary man, an entrepreneur, the likes of which are rare. Since the early beginnings of our industry, he understood that the business value of technology comes from and through people. At our first meeting, I was struck by his entrepreneurial mindset, his ability to form and inspire committed teams and his unwavering insistence on high performance. I will never forget all that Serge has taught us, his quest for excellence, the intellectual stimulation that one felt in his presence, as well as his faithful and loyal friendship. He will be greatly missed. He created a solid framework around the values on which the company is based today.”
Serge Kampf was born on 13 October 1934 in Grenoble. With a double degree in Law and Economics, he began his professional career in 1960 at the General Direction of Telecommunications in Paris, which he then left to join the Compagnie des Machines Bull. It is here that he discovered computing, an emerging industry at the time, and its implications for corporate organizations.
On 1 October 1967, in Grenoble, in a two-room apartment converted into an office, Serge Kampf created Sogeti with three former colleagues from Bull. Technological and cultural changes of the era inspired him to form what was a visionary offer of services, combining technical and organisational consulting with customer proximity, in light of the future role that IT would play in the business world. This feature will remain the theme of the group that he pioneered, and which has become one of the major French successes worldwide within the IT sector.
Serge Kampf continued to grow the company and build it 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. The Group then joined the CAC 40 in 1988.
Serge Kampf rapidly built an international dimension to the Group which, by 1989, was seen as one of the 5 world leaders in the IT sector. He conducted a series of strategic acquisitions in America and Europe, including United Research (1990), Data Logic (1990), Hoskyns (1990), the Mac Group (1991), Volmac (1992), Gruber Titze & Partners (1993), Bossard (1997), Ernst & Young Consulting (2000), Transiciel (2003), Kanbay International (2007) and CPM Braxis (2010).
In 2012, Serge Kampf announced his departure from the presidency of Capgemini, 45 years after beginning his entrepreneurial journey. He entrusted Paul Hermelin, who had worked with him since 1993, to succeed him. As Vice-Chairman of the Board, Serge Kampf continued to closely monitor the life and strategic direction of the Group.
An exceptional entrepreneur, a strategist with an unconventional profile, and an outstanding manager, Serge Kampf had a vision of the industry and its potential, and knew how to anticipate market developments. All those who knew him confirm that he had a rare strength of conviction, along with a surprising ability to unite and inspire teams. They also recollect his taste for freedom, his absolute requirement for honesty, and his love of words, which he mastered with intransigence and in his own inimitable style.
Modest and generous, this lifelong rugby fan and sponsor was inspired by the values of this sport, which he used to establish those of the group he founded. Capgemini is his life’s work, and its development reflects his high personal expectations, convictions and commitments.
“We have always put the client at the centre of our thinking and our actions. The fundamental principle is “take the time to listen.” The phenomenal flows of information we have today will never replace deep, eye-to-eye, human interaction. I have a reputation for being a man of few words. This is because, for me, you have to start by listening if you want the other person to hear you properly. This is vital if we are going to meet the constantly changing needs of our clients. Their expectations and their trust are the raison d’être for a services company like ours.”
8 April 2015
“Letter from Serge Kampf to Capgemini and Sogeti team members, to the clients of the Group, to its shareholders, and to any of his friends who don’t yet feature on the list of the Group’s shareholders, clients and employees”. – Capgemini 2014 Annual Report
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