Douglas Charles is Capgemini’s vice president of market development and sales officer for the Technology Services (TS) division in North America. Charles is tasked with leading the business unit“™s market development and sales strategy. He spoke with ExecutiveBiz about goals, challenges and the culture at “Cap.”
ExecutiveBiz: Could you tell me a little bit about your background?
Douglas Charles: I came to Ernst & Young in 1993 and left for SAIC in 2004 to run their commercial operations. I did that for 5 years. Their commercial operation is a $500 million operation with 3,000 people across the globe, including state and local government. Clearly, we had a lot of activity and interaction with the federal portions of SAIC. Our task was to leverage the work that SAIC did in federal very effectively into the commercial operations. Examples like the battlefield of the future got incorporated and reconstituted into the digital oilfield of the future as we moved into the energy space in our commercial operations.
It was only about a year ago, Capgemini was finding themselves where they were very focused in on the ERP space, and since I had continued to have good relationships with Capgemini, they asked me to come on board and for North America, drive a diversification strategy and implementation into non-ERP activities. That“™s what I“™ve been focused on; to focus on specific industries, including state and local, including federal government and including a number of other commercial areas and really trying to drive not only the good work that we“™re doing at Oracle and SAP, but really bringing that to the next level of business intelligence and information technology around cloud, around data virtualization and around some of the other areas that we find extremely important as far as growing our IT influence in the market.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your position?
Douglas Charles: Well, right now, it relates to, in a strange way, keeping up with the demand. Obviously in 2008 and 2009, there was not the demand you would expect and really over the last eight to twelve months, we“™re really seeing a heightened demand. I think most of that was triggered by people being very conservative with their investment funds, and I think since the beginning of this year, our clients started loosening up. Now you“™re seeing that pent up demand, along with normal demand, in trying to compete for the best resources that we can present to our clients.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some goals that you have for Capgemini for short-term or over the next 6 months?
Douglas Charles: I“™ll focus on the federal opportunities. What“™s interesting with our federal business is for a number of years as we entered into it, we were probably more of a staff augmentation play. We accepted the role of being the subcontractor of someone who is prime to do the work. Over and over again, we were being tasked to come up with three bodies here or ten bodies there. This year, and into last year, we said that that strategy and agenda is not for us and what we“™ve really got to do is to step up and be the prime integrator in many of these opportunities. We“™ve got a number of very key wins this year already, both in the state and local areas as well as in the federal area. Because of our size of breadth of services of Capgemini, we are still somewhat of an unknown asset. When people see our overall size, they usually want to know a lot more. As it relates to goals, we often think growing by 10 percent is great, which is an aggressive goal in an established business. But we“™re looking at saying, “˜We“™re x-amount of millions of dollars today, let“™s invest to double and triple that number to really get on the radar screen in the market of the federal and state and local business.
ExecutiveBiz: What is it about the culture at Cap that drew you back there?
Douglas Charles: There are two ends of the spectrum when you“™re in our field of work. One is the IBMs, the Accentures of the world. They“™re really established and very much a great place to be but, also, I really felt that changing that organization is extremely difficult. I have a number of friends in that area and know that you go into IBM and get kind of morphed into their processes and their way they do things. After twenty years, you“™re going to get your gold watch and be very satisfied with the salary you made, but with the same token, I don“™t think you look in the rear view mirror and see that your fingerprints all over the organization. On the other end of the spectrum, if you go to the entrepreneurial side, I think it“™s great. You and I could start up a business tomorrow. The only challenge with that is you“™re a niche player and if you double in size, you have four people. If you double that, you have eight. It“™s just you“™re coming from such a ground zero. What I felt about Cap is, especially in North America, you“™re really in between those two. You have market presence, you have thousands of people working, you have an established base but at the same token, there“™s really an urging and desire for transformative leadership. Coming in, and it“™s already happened within the year I“™ve been here, changing the culture, changing the way we approach the market, changing what we“™re selling in the market. All of those changes can be accepted and driven at the North American level and that“™s what attracted me.
ExecutiveBiz: On a more personal note, what are some hobbies that you enjoy in your spare time?
Douglas Charles: I haven“™t met anybody that beats me at this, but I have two children, one who is twenty-four years old and in med school and then I have a two-year old little girl now so the spread is quite large and nothing in between. My wife and I are highly ambitious people and I guess over a course of twenty-two of those years, we were just very focused on moving around and doing things to further careers. So when we got a chance to breathe one last time, our hobbies have shifted from “˜Hey wouldn“™t it be nice to play golf? Or go do this or go do that for the weekend? Or travel?“™ to “˜Hey, we have a two-year old at home.“™ So, we“™re typical parents of a two-year old, trying to muster up as much energy as other people can to try to raise a two-year old.