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Interview with Alexis Kuperfis

Alexis Kuperfis, program director at IBM. This expert in programing and management talks to us about his company, his job and his passions.

What is your background?

Alexis Kuperfis : I began with a scientific baccalaureate because, I always had the idea of having a career in the field of IT. At the end of high school, I passed my exams with very good marks and congratulations from the jury. After graduation, I joined to ESAIP (École d’ingénieurs en informatique et prevention des risques) in which I did a specialisation in IRII (computer science, industrial networks and international culture). Thanks to this education, I become an expert in programing and architecture of industrial networks.

This school which is resolutely oriented towards the international market, allows me to spend a year abroad. I was naturally heading to Sydney, Australia, because it is a country I particularly like. Moreover, thanks to that experience, I have acquired a perfect control of English, which will be crucial for the rest of my career.  Indeed, being bilingual in English is a real plus in the programing world. After these years of higher education, I graduated and directly joined IBM as a technical IBM hardware engineer in Strasbourg, France.

After a few years, I took on some new responsibilities and I was promoted to the position of Programing Director. This is where my programing skills became essential, because as a director, it is important to know the basics of what your teams do, otherwise it is impossible to manage them well. Being a good programing director at IBM also means having some deep knowledge in terms of digital transformation, systems integration, ERP, app development, analytics, cloud, AMS, migration, etc.

More generally, I am in charge of managing the projects of the company’s major clients and I intervene in all stages of their implementation: from the commitment to the operational deployment of the solution. IBM gives me the chance to manage a portfolio of €6 million per year and a great team of more than 80 people.

Could you tell us about the company you work in, IBM?

Alexis Kuperfis : IBM stands for International Business Machines Corporation. It is an American multinational company specialized in the field of hardware, software and IT services. In France, the company is established in several cities such as Nantes, Toulouse, Rennes and Strasbourg. It is a company where it is good to work, which leaves room for different profiles. It is also at the forefront of technology and innovation

Where does your passion for computers and programming come from?

Alexis Kuperfis : I always have been interested in computers. From an early age, I saw my father buying the latest computers. He is the one who introduced me to computer science in general.

I remember the first computer that he put in my hands: a Commodore 64. It is the most popular personal computer sold, even today. It is with this device that I really discover computer science and programming.

Afterwards, I got my first computer from my parents in the 1990s. It was a fixed tower that used to work on Windows 95. It is with this device that I launched out to discover the Internet. From that time on, I started browsing the forums dedicated to computer programming and I made my first steps in JavaScript, PHP and C#. In parallel, I am also migrating to Linux. Since then, I kept up with new innovations and still keep my computers up to date.

How do you manage more than 80 people on a daily basis?

Alexis Kuperfis : In reality, it is not more complicated than managing a small team of 10 people. Of course, it is necessary to delegate and learn not to want to control everything, it is impossible. You need to trust your collaborators. I think that each manager has its own methods to achieve the same result. However, it is important to note that not controlling everything does not mean letting everything go.

As soon as I took office, I remember having directly laid down the rules in a clear and explicit way, it was advice from my predecessor. Thus, everyone is aware of the objectives and it was a great way to affirm and to reassure my team who then knew where we were going. As a manager, it is essential to give your employees freedom to unleash their creativity and personal initiative.

Secondly, communication is essential, even more in the management of a large team. Do not hesitate to give compliments and positive feedback when everything is going well. On the contrary, and this is certainly the least pleasant part of the work, when things do not go as planned, when there are mistakes, we must also learn to say it, by putting the forms into it. The important thing is to always end with positive feedback, because everyone is known for their first quality: themselves.

The important thing is to always end with positive feedbacks, because everyone is known doe its first quality: themselves.

Finally, as a manager, you also need to show the example. Respecting the adage “say what you do and do what you say” is necessary. This makes it easier to ask your employees to do this or that task. It is a mandatory condition to inspire respect and to be considered as a model.

In order to cut with your intense professional life, do you have any passions?

Alexis Kuperfis : Although my profession as a program director does not allow me to spend a lot of free time, I like to spend it on my bike, with my family around a cocktail party I made or wandering the aisles of an art exhibition.

I particularly like cycling, because it is a very good sport for the body and the mind. It allows me to refill my batteries in contact with nature. I am a fan of road cycling and I have ridden on many roads in France. I also enjoy going off the beaten track and riding my mountain bike. I am also passionate about sports competitions in this sport and I have even seen the riders of the Tour de France, the Tour of Italy and the Tour of Spain several times.

Then, I am passionate about mixology, which is the art of mixing and making cocktails. I have all the necessary equipment at home and I like to receive my friends or family around my liquid creations.

Finally, as a great art lover, I like to skim art exhibitions alone or with my family. It is a very good experience that offers my children a greater openness of mind.

To finish, do you think that large companies are sufficiently informed and aware of the topic of e-reputation?

Alexis Kuperfis : This is a subject that is increasingly being considered by large companies. With the advent of web 2.0, everyone can say what they want about who they want. A dissatisfied customer can quickly damage this e-reputation, which has been built over several years.

Large companies have understood that a bad online reputation has an irreversible impact on their performance and turnover. They are therefore taking more and more measures to control their e-reputation.

However, as it involves external factors, online reputation cannot be 100% controlled, so I think it is an issue that will become more and more important over the years.

 

Thank you Alexis Kuperfis.


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