Capgemini Consulting recently appointed Todd Rovak to head its North America consulting business after acquiring innovation and strategy design firm Fahrenheit 212, which Rovak also leads. In his new dual role, Rovak will leverage the combined capabilities of Capgemini Consulting and Fahrenheit 212 to drive Capgemini’s digital innovation growth strategy and forge a new breed of highly entrepreneurial, outcome-driven consultancy focused on cultivating its people—even after they’ve left the firm. Consulting spoke to Rovak about his vision for Capgemini and the changing state of the industry.
Consulting: How will you be managing your dual role between Fahrenheit 212 and Capgemini Consulting?
Rovak: For the time being I’ll be staying in both roles. That’s strategic because a lot of the mission here is how we thoughtfully and strategically use both Fahrenheit and Capgemini Consulting’s capabilities. I use the word thoughtfully on purpose, because for consulting firms, snapping up design firms or other capabilities is the easy part, the hard part is what you do next. So through the dual role I’ll be under the umbrella of Capgemini consulting and have enough control to build towards where we want to go. Fahrenheit 212 is probably one of the strongest innovation brands in the market, for now we’re going to keep it as the 212 brand as we go to market with that capability. As corporate branding develops it might become its own company, but the branding is out there and we intend to use it.
Consulting: What’s been keeping you busiest?
Rovak: In some ways they’re two very different organizations, so they’re very different models to make sense of. Capgemini’s heritage is in traditional sector and capability based consulting. It has an incredible breadth of capabilities. Fahrenheit is a more focused capability, smaller in scale but also in terms of how many people are there and scope. It’s focused primarily on top-line growth. Its people don’t co-locate. For example, a typical Capgemini person will spend four to five days a week with the client, Fahrenheit 212 people spend 90 percent of their time at Fahrenheit with other Fahrenheit people working on solutions.
A lot of what’s been happening in the consulting industry, whether it’s Accenture or McKinsey picking up design firms, is a bit of a culture of ‘buy it and scale it very quickly’. We’re purposely taking a different path towards developing products that make sense of those capabilities and making sure we’re building things that are right for the client versus just trying to make Fahrenheit or Capgemini very big. Scale is going to come, but just scaling what we are today isn’t the point. The point is there are very interesting products that don’t exist in the marketplace today. We have to be disciplined enough to build those around our clients, around where we see gaps in how traditional strategy consultants go to market.
Consulting: What will be your approach to acquiring and retaining talent?
Rovak: We are obsessed with attracting the industry’s best talent. I mean that both on the Fahrenheit and Capgemini Consulting side. Everyone in consulting says the same thing, “we’re a people business”, but to make that real it’s not about HR policies. It’s about how are we challenging people and what kinds of problems are we asking them to solve. How are we putting them into positions where they’re going to get to crack really hard problems with capabilities others can’t bring to bear? Should we be thinking about our engagement model? Should we be spending less time on site? What are the 2 to 3 skills we should be overtraining people on? What are the unique Fahrenheit and Capgemini skills that need to be out there versus just having a big corporate training program?
Anyone can teach you how to be a consultant, and then you basically go through your career and change jobs 4 to 5 times with the same basic skillset. We have to be able to define and train on those core Capgemini Consulting skills that make sense of the new product we’re developing. I don’t believe in the idea of retention programs. I believe in building something that has its own gravity, which people stay in for a reason. Retention programs are an incredibly outdated idea, particularly for a millennial workforce. We need to be the place that is right for this generation of consultants. If in two years we don’t have the industry’s top talent pool, we haven’t made it.
Consulting: How has the generational shift in the industry factored in to your approach to talent?
Rovak: The average millennial has three jobs in five years. You can give someone five different titles and levels and expect and hope for them to be there for 20 years, but that’s not the promise we make to people. We promise that we’re going to train them like crazy and then graduate them. On the Fahrenheit side, our product is not just innovation but innovators. We’re going to produce people who we’re going to celebrate when they leave, and help them get their next job when they go. We need very powerful, educated alumni out there. In order to do that, you need to make a promise. What I need is 3 to 5 years of your career, I need your entrepreneurial energy, and for you to bring your whole self to work, and then when it’s time to move on, we’re going to facilitate that.
Consulting: What are some of your goals for Capgemini Consulting?
Rovak: Growth in North America is a huge part. We can be double or triple in size of what we are today. We have a unique capability that fits a gap in the market. I would reinforce the idea that we get there by being a unique place for today’s and tomorrow’s consultants. That means next-generation skillsets. If you ask how I’d define success, I would say in a couple of years people are going to know and recognize a Capgemini consultant based on the way they think and the way they solve problems. My goal is to have Capgemini consultants be the most headhunted, recruited, overpaid people on earth. If we get to that place we’ve done our job.