Exclusive profile: New Capgemini UK and Ireland MD Mark Porter

Delivering successful change is something Mark Porter has done ever since he joined Capgemini in 1990. As the firm’s new UK and Ireland managing director, he’s not about to abandon an approach that has worked so well.

‘Bringing about successful change is a core discipline in consulting and that’s what I like to do most,’ he says. ‘I’m not keen to just run a steady state.’

Brought in to replace the retiring Clive Williams, Porter is a rare breed in modern business, having been loyal to the firm for well over a decade. And having ridden the consultancy downturn, his passion and zeal for the industry are back and clear for all to see.

‘The last two or three years have been very hard for all of us. We’ve all seen reductions and I’ve had to say goodbye to some very good people.

‘What I’ve always tried to believe in is to get the business fit. Having done that, we can now deliver to what I believe is happening in the market.’

The dark days may be behind Porter, but Capgemini has some making up to do. With three years of annual losses in tow ð e359m (£250m) in 2004 compared with e197m in 2003 ð Porter is adamant the firm’s fortunes will turn in 2005.

‘I’m looking to grow by at least another 500 people this year, take on 100 graduates and take the firm to double-digit revenue growth. As the market grows by 3% to 3.5%, this means we’re going to go and eat someone else’s lunch.’

With promises of a large recruitment drive, potential acquisitions, ever strengthening markets and a constant flow of high-quality and often long-term contracts in the public sector and financial services, Porter could not have taken over at a better time.

‘We need to grow people organically, but I’m not so sure we can actually reach that degree of growth purely on an organic basis, so we’re looking for companies at the moment.

‘There’s a degree of confidence about the place that is really encouraging. If you look back at 1998 it was fuelled by the onset of the millennium, while it’s now five years since a lot of ERP systems were implemented. The market is now fuelled by a lot of IT renewals as well as contracts.’

Porter is keen to impose his own sense of style and says he is in the role ‘for the long haul’.

‘Now is my chance to make a difference. I want to inject a sense of dynamism and responsiveness. People react to that and that’s what I’m looking for.’

From working with British Steel on its transformational outsourcing deal in 1998 to leading Capgemini’s internal change programme, Porter has always instilled his own methodology in the firm.

But it is to one concept of his own, which Porter calls ‘unlocking hidden energy’, that he is dedicating a large amount of his own time in 2005.

‘You’ve probably seen people you work with get up to some weird and wonderful things. They may go and dress as crusaders at weekends or fix their model railway when they get home at night, but the fact is that they have an energy and passion. So what I’ve done is to start up a CEO agenda and said to certain people: I want you to take ownership of a given initiative ð I don’t want it to distract you from your day job but I want you to steer and direct it.’

Porter is keen to rebut any accusation of potential ?initiative overload’. Examine his proposals more closely, he says, and the potential individual and collective benefits are limitless.

‘An example would be how you can make life better for a consultant out on a client site 24/7. What are the right tools in terms of mobile data and wireless internet, for example? So rather than appoint a head of infrastructure to do that I’ve asked one of my top technologists.

‘This isn’t just trying to find a leadership team and then thinking of something to do with them. There’s about a dozen key things I want to get done and we’re getting it done by leveraging this hidden energy.’

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