Two and a half years ago, Capgemini Group, the France-based, multi-billion dollar global IT consulting and services firm, was evaluating the viability of its public sector business in the United States. The structure of this business had been in place for a few years, but had shown only modest revenue and little growth. As part of a leadership meeting reviewing the possible courses of action, Joe Moye, himself a veteran of IT services giant Unisys and the founder of his own notable venture, came to see that the best course of action was not to withdraw from the US marketplace, but to double down.
“In completing that exercise,” Joe says today, “we ultimately recommended to the company that we re-invest significantly.” Capgemini held a tremendous portfolio of public sector work globally, which could be leveraged in the US market. There was a reasonable foundation of US clients already. And most importantly, it was the single largest market in the world where Capgemini lacked a significant presence.
But what this new investment called for was not just management and operations experience. What it called for was someone who had worked in the industry before—someone with public sector experience. And because Capgemini’s venture in the United States would have to operate as an independent entity in order to qualify for government contracts, they needed someone who would know how to launch what would essentially be a start-up. But not only did they need an entrepreneur. They also needed a salesman.
“Be careful what you recommend,” Joe says wryly, “because you might be asked to do it.”
Long before Joe Moye was CEO of Capgemini Government Solutions in the US, and long before he even had to sell a product, he was a natural salesman. “Something that fascinated me in high school,” Joe recalls today, “was when I discovered that I had a certain gift with my teachers. I knew how to sell myself and my skills to get the best grade possible.”
Joe was a good student, but he had learned that beyond studying hard and paying attention in class, there were other aspects to success in school. He found that by showing up and showing interest, he could reach his teachers on a different level. He would sit in the front of the class, show he cared, and earn their respect. And when he needed it, they would give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Now,” Joe says, “I would never condone that a student not do their work and sell themselves up a grade. But in all walks of life, I saw how compelling it was to have a certain level of confidence, to communicate well, and to be able to convince people.”
Joe’s natural sales ability is quickly apparent in conversation with him. He has an ease to his speech that maintains even as he describes slaving away in a McDonald’s kitchen for several years while in high school. “I was quickly elevated to the CEO of the kitchen,” he reports, in characteristic humor. “In fact, I was at one point the youngest grill chief at McDonald’s.”
His sales talent proved to be fertile ground when he took his first job out of Florida State, selling proto-IT equipment for Unisys (then Burroughs). It was about this time that the information age was beginning in earnest, and the products he was selling were becoming electronic and digital. Joe is careful to note that in those days, product familiarity was not something that was casually assumed by an employer.
“I benefited greatly from significant product and industry training,” he says, “and further training in sales skills. Before times tightened and training budgets got slashed, my experience of an eight to nine month training program was fairly typical in the industry.” Before he was certified to go out and represent his company’s products in the marketplace, he shadowed a more senior salesman in his territory.
Joe feels that the training and development structure that shaped him into a professional salesman is now a shadow of its former self. In sharp contrast to his months of training, moving up from the position of sales representative and through the various rungs of branch manager, district manager, area manager, and so on, employees today find themselves moving around quite frequently from company to company—a phenomenon which has now become expected.
“When I was growing up,” Joe elaborates, “having a resume that showed you were with a different company every two years was a very bad thing. Now it’s accepted as the norm. You’ve gotten away from that loyalty and commitment to one company.” It is because of this that Joe often finds himself saying that people just entering the work force need to take a proactive approach to their career. “I believe that, in this day and age, young people need to take their careers into their own hands,” Joe explains. “Because I could expect a future in the same company I was working for in the present, I always knew what that next role was and what the expectations were. Today, there are not nearly as many opportunities out there for young people that boast that same longevity.”
Joe has always aimed to push against that grain by promoting career development programs at Capgemini. That being said, however, he still emphasizes that it is up to the individual to take it upon his or her shoulders to achieve. “The first thing they have to figure out,” he says, “is what it is they want to accomplish and in what period of time. Set goals and be sure that those goals are communicated to the people you work for and with. Take the opportunity to be proactive, and whatever you aspire to accomplish, even if it’s as an individual contributor for your whole life, it’s important for people to know what that is.”
As an executive, it is clear that Joe is a big believer in coaching those first entering the workforce. But he states that, while plenty of training is available, it sometimes takes a little creativity and innovation to take full advantage of it. “Success is not always cookie cutter,” he acknowledges. “In our industry, it takes initiative. It takes asking, ‘What’s going on in our company? What are the new innovations coming down the pipeline?’ Sometimes people wait too long for that answer to lay itself out before them, instead of actively seeking it out for themselves.”
After fourteen years of availing himself of the more traditional training and advancement environment at Unisys, working up the rungs to vice president, Joe left to join Sequent in 1996, a Portland-based technology company. It was there that he was first exposed to the business intelligence field through his work with Sabre, the revolutionary IT system employed by American Airlines to track and predict customer trends. This led Joe to start Gazelle Consulting in March of 2000, which would grow into a high-end boutique provider of business intelligence and analytics solutions. Funded in June of 2000, they were likely one of the last start-up businesses funded by venture capital after the tech stock peak in March of that year.
In an atmosphere of imploding technology companies, Gazelle’s greatest challenge turned out to be one that Joe was perfectly suited to face: sales. “It blew me away that my biggest challenge was sales,” he reflects incredulously. “I thought that would come the easiest, as that’s what I spent my whole life doing. But that was the most difficult thing, and it required the most attention. I took it for granted early on and thought it would just happen. It was an interesting learning experience.”
Six years later, a great success in its niche role, Gazelle was subject to consecutive acquisitions, and this ultimately led Joe to join Capgemini Group in an executive role. When Capgemini set out to grow their US public sector presence with renewed vigor in the form of the independent, wholly owned subsidiary, Capgemini Government Solutions, Joe was candid in his desire to lead the initiative. “We didn’t think that bringing someone in from the outside would be effective in the short run,” Joe says. “In a large company, you have to know which levers to pull to get access to resources. You need to have a seat at the table to get things done.”
Joe, born sixth of eight children, has as much large family experience as he does in large companies. His father did not dictate Joe’s path in life, but Joe has relied heavily on him for professional and personal guidance. Although his father was in the Navy and did not have entrepreneurial or business experience per se, he was a great asset in emphasizing the intangible aspects of drive, motivation, and personal achievement.
“My father gave me a lot of good advice and direction,” Joe says. “It’s interesting to look at my siblings and me. While we all ended up in very different walks of life in terms of our professions, we are all very successful.” One of his brothers was a Naval officer, and this pattern is apparent in his siblings’ entrepreneurship as well: his brother started his own civil engineering business, while a sister started a restaurant business. “I certainly had the opportunity to leverage some of those experiences,” Joe says, “to share ideas and, when times called for it, to commiserate.”
His own children have made him very proud as well. “I know that we’ve instilled a strong work ethic in them,” he says, “and a good sense of values. We are very proud of each of them.” Beyond values, he has a son who was recently drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Joe will not be found under-emphasizing the role that sales has had in his life; he insists that his ability to foster strong client relationships and perform client-facing work has been his single greatest asset. When talking about the book he will eventually write about his life, what does Joe jest the title will be? “Life is One Big Sales Cycle.”