Eve Bolkin – Capgemini North America
“I feel I’m aware of what’s happening in this world at least six months before it’s reported in the newspaper,” she tells Vanguard in September from the New York offices of the Paris-headquartered multinational infotech and consulting company. “I can say, with certainty, what this means six months or five years from now in contractual terms.”
That approach was needed when the European Union implemented the General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018, Bolkin anticipating the age-old truism about every action causing a reaction. With 27 EU member states tightening rules and regulations for data privacy, she saw it inevitable that such concern would spread across The Pond. Not that the response would be cookie-cutter.
“I immediately could see that the U.S. would follow, despite our historically different approach to privacy,” Bolkin continues. “However, I could also see the U.S. adopting a state-by-state approach rather than a broad brush.”
There being no national standard for safeguarding data, it would be up to the states, the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act leading the way by giving consumers much control over how a business can disperse their personal information. Other states, and even municipalities, have followed with their own versions, creating compliance complexities for any service provider to a corporate clientele.
Capgemini among the leaders in artificial intelligence and cloud, cybersecurity and digital services, there’s much for Bolkin to monitor and not just for today.
Clients come first
“As a service provider, we’re able to be reactive to an individual client in a particular industry,” she says. “Clearly big data and use of big data will just continue and that puts a lot of responsibility on us.”
Opportunity, too, Bolkin notes, saying how Capgemini recognizes the potential for artificial intelligence, as well as its risk for misuse. Just as AI can identify market trends, it also can lead to discrimination. This Capgemini wants to remove from any equation, a goal Bolkin says the firm can support by being on equal footing with its clients.
“A very interesting direction we’ve taken is we’re not just assisting clients as we are sitting at the same table and partnering,” she says. “We’re not just helping with back-office functions such as payroll and human resources. We’re front and center involved in helping clients transform their business.”
For instance, Bolkin says Capgemini is partnering in the development of a self-driving car. The firm, also in the life sciences, helps clients develop software sustains pacemakers.
AI, cloud and digital services, cybersecurity and sustainability among its offerings, Capgemini stands to positively disrupt a slew of industries, among them automotive, financial, energy and utilities, electronics and technology, health care and the public sector. Bolkin’s thrilled to have a role, though she concedes it’s with some irony.
“I’m not very tech-savvy,” she says with a laugh. But she’s impacting the process through her business and legal skills.
A results-oriented team
“I do feel very much part of the end process,” she says. “I love my role and feel so invested in leading the contractual process, resolving disputes and figuring out where we’re headed in the future.”
The legal team’s accomplishments are tangible and binary, Bolkin explaining how it’s gauged by whether contracts are signed. She oversees 10 direct reports and credits a positive corporate culture to her team’s success.
Each week starts with a “Monday Moment,” everyone receiving a lighthearted email atop what’s likely a lengthy to-do list. Throughout the year, Bolkin plans events that break up the normal routine and enhance the esprit de corps—such terms being appropriate at a French-owned company after all.
“I’ll ask the team, ‘if you won the lottery, would you still be here?’” she says. “This has to be a job that you enjoy, one that enables you to grow professionally.”
It’s been just that for Bolkin, who recently celebrated her 28th anniversary on the Capgemini North America legal team.
A University of Pennsylvania English literature and Spanish language undergrad, Bolkin earned her juris doctorate at New York University School of Law in 1988. She cut her teeth as a law firm associate for five years, coming to Capgemini North America in 1993 and finding no reason to go elsewhere.
“Here you really feel connected in a way that’s hard to get as an external lawyer,” she says. “Working in-house, I feel as necessary as any other employee in making this company a success. Nothing theoretical about what we do. At the end of the day, it’s whether the contract is or is not signed.”
It can be a balancing act, Bolkin acknowledges, and a process akin to coaching a sports team.
“You’re there to give real helpful advice and be able to stand behind it,” she says. “And to be constantly looking ahead. That’s kept my legal skills fresh after 28 years.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Winter I 2022 Edition here.
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