The end of an era for the Sema Group

Back in mid 2000 I got a job working for a very large computer corporation supporting laptops over the phone for corporate customers. It wasn't well paid, and we were badly managed and operationally impotent, however, it was an introduction into the more interesting world of the companies who were buying from us. Although the Sema Group were not my customer, I got to know them so well that I had contacts who didn't even have to phone me.

Its not often I write about work or work related issues, but this one is dear to my heart. When I returned to Ireland in June 2002 a job was badly needed and I spotted that oilfield giant Schlumberger was opening a service centre in Cork. Keen to locate myself outside Dublin to eliminate the bad memories of better times and an extremely destructive relationship, I applied enthusiastically - Schlumberger were one of my main customers in my previous job and I gathered they would be good to work for. To my surprise I then discovered that a year previously the Sema Group had been bought out by SLB and was now part of SchlumbergerSema. I was more interested. Without much difficulty I had a job offer from SLB less than a week after coming home and started working for them in early July 2002. Immediately I rebuilt my old SemaUK contracts and started a very engaging and highly satisfying career that has seen me end up as Change Manager for SchlumbergerSemaUK. By the end of 2002 the old "Omnes" group (a former comany jointly owned by Cable and Wireless and Schlumberger, bought out around 1999 by SLB) was merged into the organisational structures of the old Sema organisation. So I was effectively sucked into Sema and realised after working with them what a great company they are in their own right.

Roll onto later this year and the sad announcement that now the remnants of the Sema group are being largely bought out by French services company Atos Origin. Schlumberger will still have a stake in the combined company (I'm not telling you anything here that isn't already public domain!), but by next January effectively most of the old Sema Group will have become Atos Origin. Its a sad process that seemed to begin with Sema's fatal "rebranding" in 2000 that has led to a really brilliant and wonderful company being merged away. The Sema group was founded in France in the 1950s and for many years was largely owned by France Telecom. In these leaner times its been tough to be a services company in a low margin market.

Anyway bye bye Sema. I'm being transferred back to the Oilfield services division in January (so I'll still be a Schlumberger employee). So interesting times are ahead.

See public announcements regarding the Sema/Atos Origin venture

The official SLB press release regarding the sale of Sema


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