FROM SAWMILL TO NEW TECHNOLOGY
Serge comes from a large family with deep values of helping each other and sharing. His father instilled in him the joy of being an entrepreneur.
At the age of four, Serge began accompanying his father on his deliveries. His father was an entrepreneur in the lumber industry, and Serge could sense his father’s happiness each time he made a sale or served a customer. These moments left a lasting impression on the young boy, who decided that he would one day have his own business. At age 12, Serge began working in his father’s sawmill. This is where he had his first interactions with customers — an experience that would serve him well throughout his career as an entrepreneur.
Serge often says that he went from softwood to software.
MIKE ROACH, Chief Executive Officer of CGI from 2006 to 2016 and member of CGI’s Board of Directors
The emerging field of information technology piqued Serge’s interest from the very beginning. He instantly knew this is what he wanted to study. However, since IT was still in its infancy, schools had yet to begin offering specialized courses. He therefore decided to study computer science in CEGEP after which he continued his education, earning a bachelor’s degree in administrative management and then an MBA. He began his career as an IT consultant and then went on to start his own business.
Just two years after founding CGI, Serge Godin had carved out a reputation as a success-driven entrepreneur.
Photo credit : CGI’s archives
Serge started CGI, which stands for “Conseillers en gestion et informatique” (Consultants in management and IT), in his basement. The firm’s only consultant at the time, he landed his first contract in June 1976. Not long after, he asked his childhood friend André Imbeau to be co-founder. Together, they would lay the groundwork for the firm’s consulting services and develop a business culture that relies on the power of teamwork. Contracts continued to multiply, leading them to open offices in Montreal, Ottawa and then Toronto.
IT was a nascent field when CGI was founded, and Serge and André offered consulting and systems integration services. The business grew rapidly.