Jean-Philippe Courtois is the President of Microsoft International and the Senior Vice President of Microsoft Corp. As president of Microsoft International, Jean-Philippe Courtois leads sales, marketing and services for all regions outside the US and Canada, including Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), as well as Japan, China, the Asia Pacific region, Latin America and emerging markets. During his 21 years at the company, Courtois has held several key leadership positions and was previously the CEO of Microsoft EMEA. Before he became CEO, Courtois had served as President of Microsoft EMEA, as Vice President of worldwide customer marketing, as Vice President of Microsoft Europe and as General Manager for Microsoft France. Courtois joined Microsoft France as a channel sales representative. Before joining Microsoft, Courtois spent 18 months as a Product Manager for Memsoft, a French accounting software company. Courtois is a Board Member of CSR Europe, the leading European business network for corporate social responsibility. He is a past member of the Advisory Council of the European Policy Centre and served as co-Chairman of the World Economic Forum's Global Digital Divide Initiative Task Force. A French national, Jean-Philippe Courtois graduated from The Ecole Supérieure de Commerce, Nice (CERAM) and obtained his DECS.
IT plays a powerful role spurring local growth, competitiveness and social development in areas such as healthcare, education and environmental preservation. Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential programme, associated with the ITU’s Connect the World initiative, supports community based IT skills training for the unemployed, the elderly, people with disabilities and refugees. The company is investing in large-scale capacity-building and training partnerships to improve education and broaden digital inclusion. The goal for these efforts: to help train a quarter.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) recognise that Information Technology (IT) can play a powerful and transformative role in promoting development across many dimensions, by spurring local growth and competitiveness, as well as by expanding the reach and effectiveness of social development in areas such as healthcare, education and environmental preservation. Our approach to partnership is competence-based and rooted in the idea that by bringing the core resources, solutions, know how and time of the company and its employees to the table, we can help our partners serve local needs and address local challenges through innovative technology products and solutions with real socio-economic impact. Most of all this is rooted in the way we do business with partners to foster the growth of local IT industries. Our business partners, a family of 750,000 independent companies and individuals throughout the world, are our biggest contribution to local economic development. They earn their livelihoods, provide thousands of jobs and contribute to the development of the local IT industry by building applications and providing services on top of our technology platform, earning US$7 or US$8 of revenue for every US$1 Microsoft earns. Building on this partnership-based business model, Microsoft is investing in large-scale capacity-building and training partnerships to improve education and learning and to broaden digital inclusion. We recently set an ambitious goal for these efforts: to help train a quarter of a billion people by 2010, giving them the ICT skills that can help them improve their lives. IT access and skills training Two of our programmes, which are already underway, are the Partners in Learning initiative for schools and teachers, and the Unlimited Potential initiative associated with the ITU’s Connect the World programme, to support community based IT skills training for the unemployed, the elderly, people with disabilities and refugees. To date, we have set up five PC refurbishment centres in Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa providing affordable technology to educational establishments, charities and non-profit organisations. We have signed agreements with the Ministries of Education to help build capabilities for curriculum developers, teachers and students. We will provide IT skills training for 40,000 community members and 2,200 teachers this year alone. Innovation for societal benefit We are committed to innovation for societal benefit through partnerships in R&D and product development. For example, we are working with local linguistic experts to create Local Language versions of our products, including Kiswahili, Afrikaans, Setswana and isiZulu. We are supporting local NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and IT experts to create high-quality text-to-speech recognition tools, so the visually impaired can use IT to obtain an education and employment. Modernising services Governments are responsible for a range of matters, from creating an environment that fosters a growing economy and generating jobs to providing proper healthcare and educational systems. All this is to be achieved while maintaining and improving their organizational efficiency. Our Solutions Sharing Network promotes increased online collaboration between governments, academic institutions and public sector agencies on software solutions and architectures, best practice and applications source code. There are presently 18 SSN sites up and running, including the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) South African Capacity Initiative and, in South Africa, the SITA Centre for Public Service innovation and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Local IT industries Almost 100,000 Independent Software Vendors (ISV) around the world are working on the Microsoft platform, including 800 in South Africa alone. In June, we opened Africa’s only independent software vendor centre in Durban. The centre will provide African ISVs with access to training, technologies and technical expertise from our staff. This opportunity to design and build software products will enable a growing local IT economy in which new local businesses can develop and skilled local jobs are created. Humanitarian relief and development agencies We recognise the increasing importance of technology in a broad array of relief and development efforts. We have developed partnerships with several UN organisations and international NGOs to put technology and private sector know how at the service of some of the world’s most disadvantaged people and those who help them. Looking ahead As partners, we are constantly learning and trying to improve our approach, solutions and impact. We are expanding our understanding and approach to being a responsible industry leader and a good corporate citizen. Microsoft’s Global Citizenship Initiatives include not only the efforts detailed in this article, but also many other efforts intended to strengthen local communities and to help individuals and nations participate more fully in the global knowledge economy. Based on our experience so far with partnerships for development, we believe there are some critical success factors to build on in the next years. First, building the capacity of local businesses, teachers, trainers and students is key. This takes a joint approach based on local needs assessment, leveraging local talent and commitment, and deploying IT to help build economic opportunities as well as social networks. Second, forming and fostering deep partnerships takes time and trust; national frameworks of priorities and enabling policies can facilitate this. This is especially crucial for e-government, public sector and educational initiatives. Third, there is a need to push boundaries on goals, and go beyond IT access to focus on access to employment skills, job placements and job creation, since after all, it is through growth and jobs that the biggest results in combating poverty will be achieved. We are committed to this effort for the years to come. As the recent report by the Africa Commission says, the key word is ‘now’. The two words we would like to add are ‘together’ and ‘faster’. All partners in the global development effort need to accelerate policy adoption and reforms, and our business and social investments. For as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said: ‘technology has produced the information age. Now it is up to all of us to build an information society’.