This picture from Gilles Kahn was taken during the 2003 RVC conference than Jeff Clavier and myself organized that September in New York.
It captures a lot of the incredible qualities of Gilles from it's sheer passion (which radiates here), to his great strength, to his incredible humor and gentleness.
I spend today's afternoon at his funeral, where a large, sadden group of family, colleagues, friends pay their last respect to him. Gilles was only 59, and had been an adviser of RVC and of Occam Capital.
We spend of lot of time taking about leadership, and what the quality of a leader in action are, and how to recognize them. Watch the short 3 min (in French) video of Gille's new year greating to the INRIA staff, and observe and remember what an incredible man he was. I will only quote here the last sentence from his speech :
We must focus on seeding new trees, and hope that one day, when we will no longer be around, they will have mature, and bear new fruits...
Gilles Kahn was educated at the Ecole Polytechnique (class of 1964), then at Stanford University in the United States (1968-71). During his career he would have the opportunity to take two long sabbaticals in renowned scientific institutions: University of Edinburgh, UK (1976-76) and the Isaac Newton Institute at Cambridge, UK (1995). Twenty years later, in 1997, he would become the first member of the Institute to be elected to the French Academy of Science as a researcher in information systems. On his return from Stanford, he entered the CEA (atomic energy commission), then joined IRIA in Rocquencourt in 1977, at the head of a project for the development of programming environments. In 1983, he was one of the founding members of the INRIA Sophia Antipolis Research Unit, where he continued to head a research project while simultaneously coordinating research activities alongside the Unit's director. In 1993, Gilles Kahn became part of the Institute’s General Management, where he took up duties as Vice-President for Research, and later, in May 2004, became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. As Vice-President for Research, then as Chairman, he had a major influence on the definition of INRIA’s last two strategic plans. The last strategic plan (2003-2007) paved the way for joint research in information systems and life sciences.