In June, Serge Godin celebrated the 30th anniversary of founding what has become the country’s biggest independent systems integrator.

At the time, he was the company’s only employee. Today the publicly-traded firm has about 25,000 employees in offices around the world and sales of about $3.5 billion thanks in part to canny acquisitions.

The secret to its success, says Godin, now executive chairman, has been staying close to customers, staff and investors through annual planning sessions. “We always ask our clients how they would like us to evolve, what are the trends in their selected markets.”

In addition, every quarter clients are asked to fill out a customer satisfaction survey.

The down side of its size is that CGI rubs up against major partners such as IBM, Bell Canada, Microsoft and Oracle offering professional services.

“It’s kind of co-opetition, instead of competition,” Godin says of these relations. “I could say IBM likes to compete with us,” he chuckles.

The sheer number of CGI’s professionals gives it advantages for some contracts, he adds. He’s also proud that the company’s employee turnover rate is only two per cent. In fact, he says, his greatest accomplishment has been putting together a strong team.

His goal is to double revenues in the U.S. and Europe in five years.

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