Paris: Michel Jalabert, a key figure in the evolution of Capgemini Group for over forty years, and a member of its Board, died this week at the age of 80, after battling a long illness.
Born on January 20, 1933, Michel Jalabert received degrees from the Ecole Supérieure d'Electricité school of electrical engineering and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques institute of political science in Paris.
He began his career in 1958 at Bull, where he was named manager of the company's Mexican subsidiary and then was promoted to the position of Director of Services. In this capacity, he supervised Serge Kampf, who was the Regional Director of Dauphiné-Savoies in Grenoble at the time.
Michel Jalabert left Bull in 1971 to become General Manager of Gemini Computer Systems (which would later become a subsidiary of the Cap Gemini Group), then European Manager of General Automation in 1974.
Serge Kampf convinced Michel Jalabert to return to Cap Gemini, and on 5 January 1976, he became the Group Secretary General.
Michel Jalabert, Serge Kampf and Daniel Setbon, the Chief Financial Officer, were a formidable trio of negotiators, playing a key role in all significant Group transactions, such as the acquisitions of European companies SESA in 1987, HOSKYNS in 1990 and VOLMAC and PROGRAMATOR in 1992, as well as acquisitions of American companies DASD in 1981 and CGA in 1986. Michel Jalabert was especially involved in creating the Cap Gemini Group's consulting arm by orchestrating the acquisitions of several, well-respected companies in the sector (United Research, Mac Group, Gamma International, and especially, the Bossard Group).
In 1997, Serge Kampf established Michel Jalabert as Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory Board chaired by Klaus Mangold and created at the request of shareholder Daimler-Benz. In this role, Michel Jalabert's mission was to rein in Daimler Benz's impulses to take over the Group.
When Cap Gemini freed itself of German supervision and returned to being a traditional French société anonyme (public limited company) in May 2000, Michel Jalabert became a member of the Group's Board of Directors, and remained an active member until he died.
Announcing Jalabert's death, Capgemini said, "In the Group's history, Michel Jalabert will forever be known as one of the architects of Cap Gemini's remarkable success. Those of his many friends who are still with the Group remember him today as a discreet, highly intelligent, vastly cultured man fuelled by his constant curiosity about everything. They remember a man who was generous, attentive to others, and loyal to both his convictions and his friends. They remember a very courageous man — which he demonstrated in any circumstance until the end of his days, with a great sense of humour."