Enabling Digital Transformation in Asia

ISSUE #59 – Interview with Claire Sauvanaud, Senior Vice President, Business Development and Account Management, Capgemini APAC – Singapore

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Capgemini is one of the world foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services. Founded in 1967 and headquartered in Paris, it reported 2014 global revenues of €10.6 billion.

Together with its clients, Capgemini creates and delivers business and technology solutions that fit their needs and drive the results they want. A deeply multicultural organisation, Capgemini has developed Rightshore®, its worldwide delivery model. Capgemini adresses clients in the banking and insurance industries as well as corporate clients from the general and services industry. Capgemini’s solutions range from management and IT consulting to systems design and implementation, to application maintenance and infrastructure management.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER AT CAPGEMINI?

ClaireSauvanaud-itw-focusI joined Capgemini more than 20 years ago, after a prior experience with Thales as a Finance Controller and BNP in the IPO team. The company I joined was a small strategy consulting boutique, founded by a few professors at Harvard that eventually joined Capgemini Group through successive mergers. I have always worked for the banking and insurance sector ever since then.

I started as a management consultant, after which my husband’s expatriation led us to Ireland where I became head of operations for IT services.

After a parental leave taken to raise our four children, I have assumed various roles in business development and large account management. I relocated to Singapore four years ago to lead Capgemini’s business development in APAC for the financial services sector.

ON TOP OF BEING SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF CAPGEMINI, YOU ARE ALSO CO-PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH CHAMBER’S BUSINESS WOMEN COMMITTEE. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE WOMEN WHO AIM TO REACH THE TOP OF THE CORPORATE LADDER?

This question is a bit tricky as I never intended to “climb the ladder”. I work in technology, an industry where women, particularly in executive roles, are few. However, I notice that in Asia, it seems there are more women in executive roles than in Europe and France.

My first advice, beyond delivering what you are expected to achieve, would be to make yourself known within and outside of your organisation. I realised late that the power of networking is real. Depending on individual character, it may or may not be a natural undertaking and it requires motivation and sometimes boldness. I notice that most of the time, men are way better at doing this than women. Asking for advice from a few people who you trust, men and women, is always good to get honest and transparent feedback and get new angles on business situations and career decisions. When I came to Singapore, the various FCCS Business Committees, including the Business Women Committee, were good platforms to start with.

Also proactively share your aspirations with your hierarchy and be ready to seize opportunities when they come: when I expressed my interest in an international position fi ve years ago, I genuinely thought it would be in the US. I was offered  sia and Singapore and did not hesitate to go for it.

Lastly, it is essential to discuss and take into consideration the opinions of your partner and family since professional decisions, particularly when changing country, impact family life that is for me the top priority.

In 2016, the growth of mobile apps will continue to be massive across all sectors

COULD YOU BRIEFLY DESCRIBE CAPGEMINI’S STRATEGY IN ASIA?

Capgemini has strong ambitions in Asia. We provide consulting and IT services to large corporate organisations. Our Asia Business Unit covers the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and Asia and stretches to Australia and New Zealand.

We opened Capgemini in Japan three years ago and have a presence in China. Thanks to lots of coverage effort and branding initiatives, we were able to acquire a few flagship accounts across different sectors in the region, in the airline, banking, insurance, public utilities and telco industries.

On the delivery side, that is the execution of our services, Asia is now the heart of Capgemini Group, with a very industrialised delivery model, well-tuned with our teams in all countries where our clients are based. We have nearly 100,000 people across eight cities in India, as well as in Manila, Vietnam and across China.

This one-team model has proven to be effective and optimal in terms of cost.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR CAPGEMINI IN ASIA?

Our objective is to leverage and adapt our global offerings to Asia, notably around SMAC solutions: Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud services.

Even though GDPs in Asia are now growing at a slower pace in 2015, some key fundamentals KPIs make the market attractive for Capgemini: with the population growth, notably middle class, all of our clients strive to grow and implement lean operating models. We are helping them to transform their organisation through consulting and technology to achieve this objective.

As far as challenges are concerned, the focus on a few offerings, accounts and even geographies is a key element. We are growing fast, but the scarcity of expertise in different domains and technologies requires us to “place our bets” and chose to be strong in a few areas.

FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, WHAT WILL BE THE BIGGEST DIGITAL TRENDS IN 2016?

The growth of mobile applications will continue to be massive across all sectors: from enquiry to account opening, including after-sales services, money transfers, etc. All processes aim to be paperless, quick and efficient. In parallel to this come lots of projects around security and fraud prevention/detection.

But to me, the real key trend is around big data and the collection and exploitation of the immense reservoir of data resources that all companies sit on. From marketing and sales with predictive behaviours to risk management, all processes are concerned, and we are just at the emerging stage of this revolution.

Asia is at the forefront of innovation and is a fantastic and sometimes unknown lab for the rest of the world

THE START-UP SCENE HAS BEEN BOOMING IN SINGAPORE. HOW CAN START-UPS USE DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY TO INNOVATE AND GROW WITHIN THEIR LIMITED AMOUNT OF RESOURCES?

This came as a surprise to me four years ago: Asia is at the forefront of innovation and is a fantastic and sometimes unknown lab for the rest of the world. An enormous community of consumers use their smartphone exclusively, bypassing the computer and even tablet devices stages that are still common in Europe. This triggers lots of start-up initiatives, which is very good.

Building a community of start-ups like the Singapore French Tech could be a good branding to help the growth.

AS A STRONG SUPPORTER OF THE FRENCH CHAMBER, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ROLE IT SERVES TODAY FOR FRENCH COMPANIES IN SINGAPORE?

I registered Capgemini to the FCCS the week after I joined Capgemini in Singapore.

To me, it is very natural to build a French business community. It fosters solidarity across different companies, and shows our strength to the external world – the Singapore government and public entities, as well as business communities from Singapore and other countries.

I particularly like the fact that the French Chamber encompasses both large companies and small businesses; the exchanges we have are always enriching. It also helps to get in contact with others and trigger key initiatives like the Urban Innovations portfolio on French smart city initiatives where all companies involved in this domain present their offerings.

Interview published in the FOCUS Magazine “The Enterprising Spirit” – Issue #1 2016

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