Capgemini accelerates local hiring spree

30 to 40 people added to Capgemini Australia officers per month as company looks to bolster software testing, business intelligence portfolios

Capgemini Australia chief executive officer Paul Thorley

Capgemini Australia chief executive officer Paul Thorley

Consulting, technology and outsourcing services group, Capgemini Australia, has accelerated its local hire rate as it looks to nearly double its staff over a two year period.

The company is seeking to bolster its software testing, business intelligence and life cycle services portfolios, and become a Top 3 player in the overall business consultancy market as well as in the key fields.

Capgemini Australia chief executive officer, Paul Thorley, told Computerworld Australia that it was looking to add a further 750 staff to local offices over two years, through both hires and acquisitions. While this was initially achieved at a rate of 20 per months, Thorley recently said that this has accelerated to 30 to 40 people per month.

The company added 75 to its staff when it acquired software testing company Nu Solutions in September last year, and has since increased the number of local software testing professionals to 150.

Thorley said he was constantly in "scan phase" for future acquisitions, and was looking for opportunities that would be mutually beneficial to both Capgemini Australia and the acquired company. While he wouldn't place a definite size on the type of company he was looking for, he said he wouldn't look too small.

"There is a tendency to avoid too small an acquisition, because you still have to go through a lot of the same processes and due diligence," he said. "So I think there is a certain critical mass that makes it worthwhile from a management distraction point of view."

Global chief sales officer, Olivier Picard, said that Australia was one of the corporation's fastest growing countries, among other Asia Pacific markets such as China.

"We consider the European and even the US markets mature," he said. "We can probably progress some technologies and sectors [there], but they are mainly mature. The new markets are really the Asia Pacific."

Thorley said he was "in competition globally for the cash" to acquire new companies, but Picard was certain the global corporation had the balance sheet to approve acquisitions locally.

During the economic downturn, Capgemini suffered setbacks in traditional markets like the US and Europe, and was forced to make significant staff cuts at its offices in the Netherlands.

By contrast, Capgemini Australia has recorded 40 per cent year on year growth between the first quarters of 2009 and 2010.

The Australian arm of France-based Capgemini currently counts 800 among its staff, but remains a tiny portion of the 100,000-strong global corporation. Nevertheless, the corporation is known to have strong influence in local markets, with key financial institutions like Westpac counting former Capgemini staff among their number.

One key area for the Australian branch of the company is software testing where, like job indices and its competitors, it has seen an influx of clients but a lack of skilled workers to fill positions. The company has over the past 2 years bolstered its position in the software testing market, most recently adding high profile financial clients with the Nu Solutions acquisition.

"I think in mid 2009, financial services really did decide, regardless of GFC pressures, to continue down some of the transformation programs with ERP packages," Thorley said. "There is a backlog of demand that was put off by a number of companies, and that's leading to the need for people throughout the life cycle from architects to people at the end of the life cycle.

"I think it's one of the last bastions of industrialisation of the system life cycle."

Capgemini Australia has begun hiring locally, as well as in the UK and Netherlands to fill demand. However, the local arm also draws upon the corporation's other offices to provide a mixture of on-shore and off-shore testing solutions through its global delivery model, Rightshore.

"We as a group believe in the scarcity of skills, and the excellence of skills you can get in the off-shoring locations in India," he said.

Picard denied that the company would ever fully off-shore its services, but said it was an alternative offering that provided better value than those from competitors.

Other core business areas, including Business Intelligence and Business Technology Consulting, have seen similar influxes in growth, particularly as Capgemini Australia looks increase activity with Federal Government departments over coming months.

"We can't get enough enterprise-type architects," Thorley said, "but also commercial skills - business thinking about how the IT architecture is going to influence possibly different business models. Those people are very hard to come by, but we've done a lot of hiring in that area too."

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