Born in 1926, Jean Carteron was a graduate of the Polytechnique and ENSTélécom schools. He began his career in 1950, overseeing the PTT telephone fibre design department. In 1953, he joined EDF with a brief to develop electronic computing. Within the space of a few years, he had set up one of the largest scientific computing centres in Europe.
In 1957, he helped set up the French academic society of computer engineers, AFCAL, later to become known as AFCET.
In 1963, he left this agency to become head of one of the Sema group’s entities. At the same time, he helped to define a modernisation policy for the French IT industry, working with the French Planning Agency.
Under the momentum of the related Computing Plan, Jean Carteron set up his own business. On September 2, 1969, Société Technique d’Etude et de Réalisation en Informatique et Automatique, STERIA, was born. This marked a decisive step forward in his career, as the company was to become one of the leading IT services firms in Europe. From the earliest days, employee shareholding was established as a foundational principle, with the workforce owning a 60% stake in the company.
Two years after it was formed, the firm already had revenues of almost 10 million Francs. In 1973, Steria created the first word processing application for AFP (Agence France Presse).
Steria gradually expanded throughout France, opening regional offices first in Bordeaux, then in Toulouse and Lyon. The first acquisitions took place at around that time too, including Société d’Assistance Informatique (SAI), specialising in real-time automation systems, in 1973. The 1980s saw a number of flagship projects emerge: in 1981, work on Teletel and Minitel, and in 1989, the development of the banking exchange system connecting ATM machines in France.
In 1998, Jean Carteron handed over the reins of the business to François Enaud and In 1999, the company was floated on the Paris Stock Exchange, allowing Steria to raise funds to accelerate the firm’s expansion. This enabled Steria to buy out Tecsi and Equip in 2000, as well as Experian’s outsourcing business.
In 2001, the European section of Integris, Bull’s services and outsourcing business, with a workforce of 4500, became part of the Group. Steria then emerged onto the international scene, becoming one of the top ten IT services firms in Europe.
The firm’s expansion continued in 2005 buying out the German firm Mummert and British company Xansa in 2007.
After stepping down, Jean Carteron continued to follow Steria’s progress with interest. In 1999, he wrote a history of the company (Steria: 30 years of continuous creation), and in 2000 he founded the French Association for the History of Telecommunications and Computing (Ahti), which he chaired until 2004.
He remained active in the company through to 2007, continuing to manage the partnership structure and acting as a trustee of Steria SA. Thereafter, he served as honorary chairman of the firm’s supervisory board – and still retained a stake of some 4% in Steria.
It is widely held that Jean Carteron was an outstanding and visionary entrepreneur in the IT industry.