Nigel Vaz is in the business of digital transformation. He is the TOP DOG of Publicis Sapient the digital consulting company, founded as Sapient in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1990 by Jerry Greenberg and J. Stuart Moore. Sapient became a fully owned division of French advertising giant Publicis within a deal valued at $3. 7bn in 2015. Vaz recently spoke with me about his journey to becoming CEO and the particular lessons he’s learned along the way.
Named simply by Consulting Magazine as a Top 25 Global Leader, Vaz advises some of the world’s largest businesses on their transformation initiatives. He has an unique perspective on humanity-driven technology born of his childhood experience with the particular transformative power of technologies.
“I grew up with a disability of dyspraxia, which affects the fine motor skills, which made it very difficult for me to hold a pen or pencil as a kid. So , technology, for me was always a bit of a superpower because I could use it in order to type and communicate what I wanted to say, in words in that method. And so, I built this very early relationship along with the fact that this will be something that can be transformational to my life, plus people’s lives, ” says Vaz. As a child, Vaz was inspired by the superheros of their beloved comic books, who themselves often overcame the disability through technology.
This drove home to Vaz the understanding that technology and inclusion go hand within hand and that talent exists in many places, but the opportunity for that talent to be deployed isn’t always available. He believed early on that technology could be a real “superpower, ” not only in order to economically transform individuals, but also businesses.
This perspective led Vaz to co-found Internet Solutions while still in college. The company delivered online connections to schools in sub-Saharan Africa. He eventually took the company public and along the way met Nelson Mandela that encouraged Vaz in his efforts, further supporting their belief that will technology can transform people’s lives for good. While that company was being acquired, he met Sapient founders Greenberg and More.
“I got really interested in the particular fact that here’s a bunch of guys whose vision for the world has been bigger than themselves, ie, they wanted to leave a very lasting imprint inside the world, ” states Vaz. As an entrepreneur, he decided to join the company to learn from the founders how to build the company plus culture that will scales while maintaining its purpose and mission with the intent in order to use the experience to start another company. Yet, over twenty years later, he remained at Sapient having taking over the TOP DOG role in 2019 because he felt he could best additional his own vision with regard to creating technologies to improve people’s lives within Sapient.
Today Sapient has over 20, 000 employees within 53 offices across the globe, helping companies like Tesco, Carrefour, JPMorgan, Marriott and Walmart digitally change. Under Vaz’s leadership, the particular company attained its highest revenue growth last year since it was acquired by Publicis Groupe, making it the best-performing business in Publicis Groupe’s portfolio, according to the company’s latest earning’s reports. Vaz attributes the company’s growth plus success to both the culture and its entrepreneurial mindset.
“No doubt in the mind Publicis Sapient feels much more like my organization than even the business I founded ever did. And We feel like the reason regarding that is due to the fact the cultural dynamic was very much about creating a company that allows people to take ownership associated with its destiny at every level of the particular company. And that’s still something today, that I’m very proud about, ” says Vaz.
What advice does Vaz have for other CEO’s who want to instil an entrepreneurial culture? Define the culture, then celebrate it.
“ I think there’s two ideas that are linked in order to this. The particular first is the belief system and the value system that will means that you value entrepreneurial behaviors. Many companies can see that’s what they want to do. The hard part is becoming that and doing that. The particular second is usually creating the particular systems, the processes, the particular rituals, the behaviors that reinforce that will, ” states Vaz.
He provides an example within his company. When his teams were thinking about how to best apply digital change in the particular context of sustainability intended for their clients, the strategy didn’t come from on high. Instead, these people allowed teams to experiment on different ways for how they could try to tackle this.
The company had people working upon CPG companies in London, energy companies within Houston, and throughout the entire enterprise, looking for the best solutions they could then scale and replicate elsewhere. When they found the very best solutions, they put the groups responsible on a pedestal plus shared the best practices. The same process holds for “failures. ”
“We do the same thing in situations where teams have failed. Therefore , we basically say, ‘Look, all of us tried to do this point, and it didn’t work. And here are all the lessons learned around this idea of why this didn’t function. ’ This way everyone knows that while we’re okay with you making a different mistake, you shouldn’t make the same mistake. ” Says Vaz.
Entrepreneurs have no choice but to iterate until they find the right solution or market fit, or else they will go out of business. But according in order to Vaz, CEOs too often pull back such entrepreneurial experiments too soon after a few failures and return to centralised decision-making. Vaz suggests developing a portfolio approach to producing an innovation pipeline in order to help avoid this.
To promote such thinking at Publicis Sapient, the organization created its Aspire Awards to celebrate and recognize purpose-driven development within the company via a crowd-sourced process. Vaz also points to the particular company’s hackathon events as another source of its advancement pipeline. “We ran global hackathons where people are asked to solve big complex problems to deal with many of the issues that I’m talking about. And we pick winners from there, ” says Vaz.
Why do 70% associated with digital modification programs fail?
As Vaz sees it, most alteration initiatives fall short because they are viewed as projects with a beginning plus an end, rather than the continuous journey. “A a lot better way to think regarding this is to say, ‘How do I actually create a culture of continuous evolution or even continuous change, where our business is definitely constantly evolving, in order to stay relevant? ’, ” says Vaz.
Vaz also views speed of action as key in order to transformation success. He uses the acronym SPEED to define this process where the “S” stands for Strategy: developing and testing your hypothesis on priority value pools. “P” is to get Product: growing at pace and speed. “E” can be for Experience: how may you enable value for customers. The second “E” appears for Engineering : delivering on your own promise. “D” stand for Data : validating your hypotheses and uncovering insights pertaining to constant iteration.
“I’ll hear from CEOs and boards, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re agile. ’ And what they mean simply by agile is certainly they have some software development practices which use the particular word souple in their company. My question will be, do you have business agility? Are you able to respond to competitive threats and challenges, because the cycle time to do that is becoming ever smaller? And the inability to that could potentially be fatal, ” states Vaz.
Vaz also factors to the idea that the particular context within which companies embark upon a digital change for better journey is key. It’s not just about moving fast, engineering skill or even generating a culture of creativity and entrepreneurialism. It’s about using the transformative energy of electronic tools in order to improve people’s lives.
“And for me, this goes to the core of what I is trying to accomplish today, yet certainly also where I began my journey, which is if we all can leave things significantly better than we found them, for consumers, for citizens, for individuals plus groups of individuals that in turn will benefit the companies which are forging the path ahead on that trip, ” concludes Vaz.