Kim Smith

Exclusive Ideagen Interview Part II with Capgemini’s Kim Smith

Suspend disbelief. Truly profound. On that note, what key lessons and vantage points have helped you successfully carry out this role?


I think there are a few things that I’ve learned. Success is fleeting, and failure is not permanent. Being conscious of the fact that all the great things that were done yesterday in my mind are fleeting, and it’s really important to constantly be focused on new ways to do things; new ways to change. I approach every day and everything that I do in this way, and I think that this is core to the way Capgemini is wired as well. I scan the market and consider what will impact the business start to imagine a new future. There’s a term that we use which is really focusing on ‘future casting’ the business that we drive. Future casting and future proofing ourselves as individuals so that when the next wave of change comes, we’re really ready to accelerate and go around the corner with the gas on the pedal and not on the brake.

Incredible. How does Capgemini effectively innovate and positively affect customers on a global basis with that lens of future proofing?

We do multiple things in the area of driving businesses to embrace and encourage positive impact by fueling disruption to future proof themselves. Many ways don’t just involve profitability alone or creating new business models in a vacuum but infusing a commitment to inclusion, community, and sustainability. Everything from extending environmental compliance in our facilities across the globe, to supporting our clients’ corporate social responsibility efforts, and embracing and valuing diversity & inclusion across the whole spectrum: gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, culture, social backgrounds, to fostering social innovation entrepreneurship through technology, and finally bridging the digital divide: promote digital literacy and fluency collaboratively with our employees, clients, partners, and communities.

Our Merlin data center in the UK has won numerous sustainability awards and is one of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world. We make sure that everyone in our organizations is clear on not only environmental compliance and expectations but on what it takes to proactively make an impact in business and in the communities and with people in our communities. Our goal is to touch 1 million lives by 2020. Our commitment is to make positive impact in the world where we live. We want employees to support not only the business needs of the companies we work with but also empower our people to be more creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial in their approach to sustainability.

I believe our commitment here is what has won Capgemini recognition for being one of the world’s most ethical companies in the world, FTSE4Good Ethical Sustainability Index Excellence across Europe and other parts of the world, and the only global Solution Integrator who has received the Global Business Certification for Gender Equality (EDGE).

We’ve been named in multiple countries around the world as the top 50 employers for women. We’ve been named in multiple countries as well for best diversity employer We’ve also extended our environmental programs with ISO 14001 certification not only in Europe but in India and other geographies. We have a commitment to make sure that our impact is positive in everything that we do, which has direct impact to our bottom line. This type of mindset and cultural model has clear implications in the business world. Organizations used to be on the S&P 500 for upwards of 50 years. This is no longer the case. We are moving into a time where companies are going to be lucky to be on that list for a decade max. With that level of unpredictability we feel that it is more critical than ever to focus on corporate responsibility and sustainability in a way that has positive impact and implications on global economies. We’re making an impact by actively encouraging everyone in our company to get involved in not only the communities we serve but also in global initiatives around everything from sustainability to human rights, environmental and infrastructure, pro bono consulting, volunteering, mentoring, and most importantly, innovating across every aspect of our business to improve, re-envision, and maximize impact aligned with results.

At Capgemini, we feel blessed to have the opportunity to work Ideagen, the United Nations, and the European Union in support of Sustainable Development Goals 2030 as a collaborative business partner. I believe that it will have a profound impact on the generation of new ideas, new thoughts, new ways of approaching and executing against new business models, and then driving forward focused execution. Getting from ideation to innovation to scale - this is the most critical aspect of making a difference in the world. Fueling disruption through dexterity is our mantra.

We, of course, absolutely agree, and thank you. Completely look at the world in this way and trying to connect the dots to make the world a better place and address many of the world’s most vexing issues. Taking perhaps all of the perspectives you just shared, how is Capgemini looking at the future to positively affect individuals across the planet? You’ve cited so many examples. Perhaps we could dovetail into specifics on a few areas that you feel are most compelling.

Enabling economies to build innovative infrastructures is one compelling area. We have learned a great deal from examples like Bergen, a city of the future. They really see themselves as the smart city of the world. They were able to save 1.3 million euro a year and completely transform the way they think about their communities and the people they serve not to mention the way they operate. We also have created new ways to consume goods and products through immersive experiences in retail and manufacturing by incorporating cloud and digitally enabled capabilities that decrease dependency on products that have a significant carbon footprint.

For many of the companies we engage, we simply provide the tools, guidance, and support for organizations to help figure out their path toward a new vision of their reality. We often work with Fortune 1000 companies to help them innovate and find new ways to disrupt and provoke positive impact. Most importantly, we help them drive value through their commitment to making the world a better place. We focus our time and energy on the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development agenda and goals when we initiate compelling conversations in the industries that we serve. C-suite executive are constantly trying to identify ways that they can truly impact the world while creating net new business models. We work to maintain that commitment to stewardship and think outside the box. This isn’t just about organizations making money this is about improving lives and changing the world.

The way we approach this is through our Collaborative Business Experience. We work very closely across sector boundaries to help organizations exceed their own expectations, to break down barriers, and to focus on ways to look for cross-sector collaboration to drive for sustainability and impact tapping into the expectations set through the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 with positive implications for their own market and financial standing.

There are so many stories of awesomeness organizations have achieved by balancing their profitability expectations aligned with positive impact. Capgemini provides so many great examples you can explore digitally where you’ll see that we really let these organizations tell their own story. We simply bring the imagination, speed & agility of digital while excelling at the fundamentals of performance, reliability, scalability, and sustainability. We connect vision to reality, emerging with foundational, people through technology. To put it simply, we focus on helping companies move from business intent to value realization.

Incredible. You mentioned cross-sector collaboration. Kim, why is cross-sector collaboration and innovation so vital to helping to solve many of the world’s most vexing issues, and how does Capgemini infuse this collaboration; you’ve touched on this throughout this interview, but we’d love to hear more, and innovation into your daily mission to successfully achieve your goals?

When you think about what it means to have cross-industry, cross-sector collaboration, what we are really trying to achieve is the acceleration of growth at the right speed, the right scale, maturely and sustainably, and apply innovation in just the right way at the right time to truly have impact. For any given industry to do that on their own, there are simply too many boundaries and limitations to give them the speed to market they need to stay ahead of existential threats. We do much of our innovation through our 40+ Applied Innovation Exchanges around world where we come together with our clients, partners, & startups to solve complex business issues to and make magic happen. It is in these environments where we see true collaboration occur. People leave preconceived notions at the door (suspend disbelief!) and have radical ideas that then have immediate implications on the future growth of their business. It is quite fascinating to be a part of and quickly creates an immediate connection to how to develop innovation as a discipline.

One great thing that cross-industry collaboration provides is a cohesiveness, a network of global exchanges. It provides a transformative environment for discovery and testing and application of innovation. It really provides an opportunity to curate and establish an ecosystem to plan for shifts; shifts in technology, shifts in marketing, shifts in people’s mindsets, shifts in demographics. A cohesive commitment to fail quickly, learn, and try again. By having that connective, cohesive network and collaborative environment, by constantly scanning and curating, you learn. You learn from other people’s failures. You learn from other organization’s failures, you learn from your own failures. It’s much easier to move quickly when you move past the fear of falling, put your helmet on and be willing to try again.

The average startups fail at least five to seven times before it becomes a success. When startups work with large corporations across multiple industries in our Applied Innovation Exchange labs and we facilitate the interactions between these organizations which is a completely different environment in which either type of organization is used to working. We watch startups that are here now that weren’t here five years ago working with a centennial global conglomerate and watch as the old dog can do new tricks. What big firms learn from start-ups is a willingness to be open to a faster pace of change. They recraft, re-imagine, reinvigorate. They start to look at things differently, and they rebuild themselves over and over again. Corporations are learning that they need to adopt a startup mentality and mindset in balance with maintaining a level of stability the culture craves. It is okay to fail but fail small, fail quickly, and learn from it, and get back up. This is a marathon of sprints. A tremendous opportunity to learn from each other, to test, and take the experiences that others have had to learn what’s going to work and what’s going to have the most positive impact at scale is where we see the most powerful breakthroughs occur.

Kim, that is simply profound. Equally profound, we are at the point of the interview where we ask a key question. Kim, what are the three key lessons you have learned that have the potential to change the world?

The three lessons that I think I’ve learned I’ll sum up into maybe four words: Be bold, brave, brilliant. What I’ve learned in my experience is that to not take a risk is losing out on an opportunity to truly change the world and to impact others. Being vulnerable enough to be bold and to focus on opportunities that are perceived as impossible or can’t be done is critical to the success of anything that you want to achieve. Being brave, curious, and comfortable in the fact that it may not go, and most likely it will not go the way you think it will, but your new normal will create a center of gravity, peace, connectivity and groundedness in the roots needed to inspire you to take on wings. That is where brilliance comes in. These things will give you the fortitude to let the best you and everyone around you shine through.

We all have an amazing propensity to take advantage of opportunities that are in front of us in a way that positively impacts and influence ourselves. There is no single, right answer and no perfect path to get there. The extraordinary capability comes when you think about how you take that inclination and apply it to have a profound impact to making the world a better place when opportunities present themselves.

My goodness. What incredible lessons. Kim Smith, what is up next for you and Capgemini?

We’ve got a lot going on right now. I’ll just give insight to two or three things. Right now we’re working on accelerating innovation for smart homes, smart cities, smart airports, making people more connected to one another through artificial intelligence and Internet of Things in the area of digital manufacturing in aerospace, automotive, and discrete manufacturing as well as other industries with powerful partners like GE. Our immersive retail experiences and our smart digital store innovation we’ve innovated with Intel, Adobe, SAP, Microsoft, and many other partners making tremendous strides over the past few months breaking new ground for consumer engagement. And in the transportation, distribution, travel, and media & entertainment, high tech, and communications industries we have developed the latest in predictive data science to tap into intelligent analytics to define new forms of consumable products as services. A lot going on, building more innovation centers, hiring great talent and frankly having fun every day.

Kim Smith, Chief Digital Officer, Capgemini, North America We cannot thank you enough for the inspiration, insight, and profound impact that both you and Capgemini are having, not only in North America but across the planet. How can folks find out more information about Capgemini?

You can go to, and you can also feel free to follow me via LinkedIn ( & Twitter (KimSmithInov8). I would love to talk to anyone about how we can help them or just quite frankly make new connections. I’m always here to learn. Thank you so much for the time. I really appreciate it.

Thank you for the inspiration. Kim Smith, Chief Digital Officer, Capgemini. Changing the world. For more information on Capgemini, and Thank you everyone, and thank you Kim.

For more information on Ideagen and Kim Smith, visit:

Twitter: @KimSmithInov8

01/19/2017 11:17

Part 1 of the Exclusive Ideagen Interview with Capgemini’s Kim Smith with Ideagen’s George Sifakis

Welcome to Ideagen Ideas Leader radio. Today we have with us Ms. Kim Smith, Chief Digital Officer for Capgemini, USA. Kim, welcome.

Hello. How are you today, George?

Wonderful. Such a pleasure to have you on the show today, Kim.

Thanks for having me.

Excellent. Kim serves as Capgemini’s North American Chief Digital Officer. Ms. Smith oversees the digital portfolio strategy, go to markets, digital marketing priorities, and digital employee experience for the North America geography. Additionally, Kim oversees the North America digital lab experiences including access to the full suite of Capgemini digital capabilities as well as start up engagement, accelerators and offerings. Kim drives the digital innovation agenda which empowers Fortune 500 organizations through technology to redefine themselves, radically grow, extend their reach by re-envisioning customer experiences, employee engagement, operational processes, and business models. Kim has held executive positions over 12 years at Microsoft Corporation, leading innovation through product and service offerings, strategic partnerships, acquisitions, product planning, engineering, strategic and technical consulting, and lifetime loyalty programs for Microsoft digital and cloud technologies and industry solutions.

Kim received her bachelor of science in business administration and minor of international business from the University of Delaware. Kim has received numerous leadership and industry awards and has been recognized through patented innovation in the area of innovative strategic business consulting and was part of the Junior Achievement At Risk Executive Leadership Team recognized through the presidential Thousand Points of Light Award for community impact. She resides with her family in Seattle, Washington, and is truly changing the world. Kim, again, welcome. What an incredible bio. We could go on and on, certainly. Incredibly inspiring.

Thank you, George.

Today, Kim, we love to hear, and our listeners would love to hear, more about Capgemini’s unique mission on both a domestic and global basis. Could you tell us a few insights about that?

Absolutely. A little bit more about Capgemini. Capgemini Group was founded in 1967 in France and are a French based company. We have more than 180,000 people in over 44 countries, the world leader in consulting technology and outsourcing service. We work together with other global leaders in the industries that they serve delivering both business and technology but delving into digital and cloud based solutions that fit their needs and the needs of the customers they serve. We focus primarily on enabling the achievement of innovation and competitiveness through a multi-cultural organization. We are a truly and deeply focused on our collaborative business experience which is a patented process that we use to insure that people matter and results count. We draw on our right sourcing models and right-shore models which is worldwide delivery.

Incredible. Kim, what inspired you to join Capgemini?

I think there were really three reasons. The first reason is that in working with some of the people that I was talking to before I ever joined and people that I’ve worked with that have become friends over the years in my career, I found that this company really lives and breathes that philosophy that I just mentioned. People matter and results count. The value of innovation and the value of change really comes from and through people.

This company, like no other that I’ve ever worked with or for in the past, really understands that business value can’t be achieved through technology alone. It really starts with us as individuals gathered to get at the heart of what we’re trying to change and how we’re trying to develop as human beings. I think that human-centered approach really compelled me to join the company and got me interested and excited.

The second aspect of it was that, I’m not sure if you knew this, , Capgemini was named for the fourth consecutive year as one of the world’s most ethical companies this year by Ecosphere. If you think about that in today’s environment with so much change and so much uncertainty in the world, ethics and commitment to people have become a top priority to all of us. Maintaining commitment to those ethical standards is something that Capgemini has always believed in and always stands for in everything that we do.

The last thing is that the guiding principals really hooked me. I’ve never worked with people so consistently before on a day-to-day basis who truly embody those principals. The principals are:

• Honesty, having integrity in everything that you do, 
• Boldness, and a flair for entrepreneurship. For a company of this size to have a commitment to break new ground and have people think and act like startups, it’s really fascinating to watch and incredibly exciting to be a part of. 
• There’s a commitment to trust across teams, across individuals, across organizations and companies that is really key and it’s consistent with my core values. 
• We give a commitment to freedom and independence of thought and independence in judgment and deed, but a commitment to
• Trust
• and build that connection to people as a whole in spirit with a friendly, loyal, and generous environment to work in is their commitment to
• Modesty and integrity around being humble
• and finally, the one that I found was most intriguing was have fun and enjoy what you’re doing for what’s it all worth. Every day I’m laughing and connecting to people that are really, truly changing the world.

That was certainly a profound answer to the question and one that was inspiring on so many levels and ultimately fun. It’s a holistic approach to really creating impact, and that’s certainly is something that sets Capgemini aside from so many other companies and organizations across the planet which leads us into the next question. How does your role as chief digital officer inspire you, Kim, as you strive to promote digital engagement on behalf of the company?

When I think about the evolution of business and where we are today, I think about the mass propensity at which we’re changing. Things are moving so quickly and there really is a sense of lack of control if you think about what companies are trying to achieve and supporting not only their impact but the results that they’re trying to drive. I look at this incredible opportunity that I have in our company as a chance to build and to establish roots and wings. I remember hearing someone speak years ago about what was important to them and how they drove success and what resonated with me was the fact that it’s really important to ... in a role like this when you’re trying to disrupt markets, when you’re trying to change the view, and change the way people are think differently and act differently and move more quickly and be willing to take risk and be willing to fall down and learn from those failures and come back up and drive forward again in an environment where it’s taught that failure is bad. I think that it’s most important to shift the center of gravity and build a foundation of roots that people feel comfortable and confident and safe in taking on the change.

Secondarily, supply them with the blank canvas and slate to bring the best of who they are to everything that they do. I think that’s an incredible opportunity for me which is being able give people wings in this environment to aspire to be better, to do great things, and what’s exciting about that for me is that in my experience I started my career in risk management and merger and acquisitions and financial services industry which is really taking on calculated risk based on based on desired outcomes. What I’ve learned about my career and what I’ve applied through understanding the types of risk to take on is that sometimes you have to suspend disbelief long enough to let the art of the possible sneak in and do amazing things.

That is really giving people a foundation of comfort to be vulnerable and then providing the environment so that they can be everything that they can be and bring the best of who they are to everything that they do. While, yes, we’re applying that through technology we’re thinking of new ways to change the business world across all industries; drive for sustainability, drive for commitment to people and people’s impact on the earth part of, it really truly is also about allowing people to feel comfortable in the fact that this change is going to come no matter what, and the disruption that’s coming is something we need to fuel together, that we need to be more agile in supporting disruption. We can do it. It’s absolutely achievable. It’s exciting for me. Everyday I get up ... there’s a bit of life coach that comes in this role to really help people see the art of the possible and to help them suspend the disbelief long enough to know that great things can happen.

09/30/2016 02:51 pm ET