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Catching up with Capgemini alums: Emily Keane


Tell us about your role at your current company. What projects or responsibilities are you particularly passionate about?

I’m currently the Vice President of Client Solutions for Protagonist, which is a boutique consulting firm that uses Natural Language Processing technology to analyze narratives in the media.

As the VP of Client Solutions, I serve as the bridge between our clients and our teams of analysts. Unlike Capgemini, we don’t sit on site with our clients – rather, we only meet with them a handful of times in the course of an engagement, so understanding our clients’ needs and building trust quickly is crucial to success. Armed with a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and goals, I lead teams of analysts to transform a collection of quantitative and qualitative analysis into meaningful insights. The goal of our work is to empower our clients to reimagine and redefine their communications strategies to better connect with their customers and key audiences.

We work across three sectors: the US government, Fortune 500 companies, and large foundations. All our clients face unique challenges, but I love working with our foundation clients the most. They want to know how to shift perceptions of poverty in America, where the debate around climate change is going, and how do conservative audiences think about criminal-justice reform. The questions are big, messy, and challenging – my favorite type!

How has your career evolved from your time at Capgemini? What skills and experiences have been beneficial in that growth?

My time at Capgemini was instrumental in preparation for my current role. When I started at Capgemini, I naively came in thinking that working with data is straightforward, but in reality, you’re always dealing with imperfect data to solve real and complex problems. Learning how to think outside the box to harness data to tell a story was crucial in helping our government clients advocate for evidence-based policies. Now, when I’m approaching how to answer a client question, being creative and innovative is second nature.

The biggest takeaway from my time at Capgemini was learning how to lead people. When I was promoted, I started with managing one direct report and eventually ended up leading a team of 13. It became clear to me that everyone needs different things to feel supported; managing people is definitely more an art than it is science! I had to learn how to adapt my (very Type-A) style to listen and observe what worked for different personalities. The most important thing I learned was how to give people opportunities to grow. Allowing space for someone to own something that I was doing was hard for my perfectionist tendencies. It meant that the task might not get done right. But ultimately, letting go helped members of my team learn new skills and build their confidence while also giving me time and space to tackle the next bigger issue. In the end, it allowed all of us all to grow.

I’ve taken this leadership philosophy with me to my post-Capgemini life. Managing people is one of my favorite parts of my job. I love mentoring people, especially those who are just starting their careers, because it’s rewarding to support their development and then seeing where they go next.

Favorite Capgemini memory?

Client-wise: working on developing a training video on how to work with the transgender community. The content was super important to our client, and we worked with experts in the field to get it right. We also interviewed members of the transgender community to talk about their experiences. The vulnerability and strength they conveyed in their stories was incredible. Additionally, the work was a crash course in content and platform development. I had no experience writing a script, building graphics, casting a narrator, etc. It was intense, but what a way to learn. It was a good confidence builder in the “you can figure it out” mindset.

Company-wise: Capgemini was so good about balancing professional and mentoring opportunities. I was selected by the leadership team to attend a multi-day training session for emerging women leaders across the company. I learned so much about executive presence, building a personal brand, and networking with other leaders across Capgemini’s US practice. On the more fun side, we had a bocce team that played near the White House. It was a great way to get to know people who weren’t on your project.

In your personal and/or professional life, what are you excited about and looking forward to next?

Professionally, I can’t wait to get back in front of clients. We’ve all adapted to Zoom life but there’s something about giving presentations and having the conversations in person that makes it so much more fun and engaging.

Personally, I just moved across the country from San Francisco to New York City! I’m from New Jersey, so I’m excited to be closer to my family and explore all that NYC has to offer. Plus, I also just bought a condo so I’m learning all about home improvement.

Any podcast recs?

I listen to a TON of podcasts! In my regular rotation are:

  • The Daily – NYTimes does a great job of breaking down current events.
  • Ear Hustle – Written and produced by people incarcerated in San Quentin prison, it humanizes incarcerated men and is sometimes heartbreaking, but also always charming at the same time.
  • You’re Wrong About – This one takes older pop-culture moments and cheekily tells the listener what really happened. I loved the ones on Elian Gonzalez, Chandra Levy, and Princess Diana.
  • I also loved Floodlines – it’s a limited series about Hurricane Katrina. It came out right as COVID was ramping up and it was interesting to compare the government responses to both.

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