I am excited that we have Bernard Bourigeaud, as our closing keynote speaker at the Awards and Summit. This hugely successful entrepreneur founded and built Atos Origin and now sits on the board of a number of public and private businesses whilst also actively investing in small and medium sized enterprises. To have been successful in just one of those endeavours would be impressive, to be successful at all of them is extraordinary.
In order to discuss the content and focus of the session I had the pleasure of having dinner with Bernard and Luc Bardin, our fabulous conference chair this week.
I arrived to find Bernard and Luc discussing children, young adults actually and the choices they faced in their early careers. From that early exchange in struck me that Bernard’s perspective and counsel was counter to the way that most would have thought about that particular situation.
It was an early observation that demonstrated a familiar pattern that emerged during the evening. He took many complex, multi- faceted problems that were surrounded by a lot of distracting noise, cut through the noise to figure out what the few key variables and possible outcomes could be, which invariably brought a clarity and simplicity to both the issue and the possible solutions.
An accountant by profession, but an entrepreneur and business leader at heart - by anyone’s standards Bernard has achieved a huge amount in his career. When he left the board of Atos Origin in 2006 he had built the business from start up to revenues of more than €5.5billion and more than 55,000 employees. Although organic growth was good, Bernard massively accelerated the growth of the Atos by executing a very effective acquisition strategy. Again, his evaluation of the noise and the variables led him to a clear view, don’t buy small, buy big and integrate quickly.
Buying any business is difficult, but integrating them well is where you begin to create value and this is all to do with a strong people strategy.
Bernard’s sharp analytical approach and strong belief in technology makes it somewhat of a surprise to see how his face light’s up when you get onto the subject of people. There are many variables that make a successful enterprise in his view, but people and their leadership are clearly at the core of his business philosophy. Indeed his last book entitled, ‘The Simplest Ideas are Often the Best’ explores extensively the importance of people in the success of any organisation.
The challenge for Luc and I over dinner became what of the many lessons and stories should we ask Bernard to cover during his keynote.
I left dinner very excited that our guests will have the opportunity to hear, learn and be inspired by this fantastic entrepreneur, business man and investor at the European Business Awards Summit on the 3rd and 4th December in Warsaw.