Kyle Mahoney: creator and manager of the City’ZEN Challenge
Born and raised in California, Kyle moved to France in 2008 where he pursued a career as an English teacher in higher education, most notably at institutions such as ECE Paris, La Sorbonne and L’École Polytechnique. Kyle’s collaboration with Berger-Levrault began in 2014 when he was charged with training members of senior management with a view to facilitating international expansion. Kyle became a permanent employee of the company in 2020.
“The City’ZEN Challenge was born from my desire to build a bridge between my engineering students at ECE Paris and my collaborators at Berger-Levrault. At the time, I was teaching an ESL course on smart cities in which my students had to create their own start-up ideas and pitch them to the class. I was very impressed with their ideas…so much creativity and passion. It’s then that the idea came to me to create a kind of smart city competition that would enable the incubation of these ideas and reward students for their innovation and work.Kyle MAHONEY
Fortunately, when I pitched this idea to Mr Lehucher (the CEO of Berger-Levrault), he immediately seized it and then gave me everything I needed to make it a reality. But his belief and support has also been shared by so many at the company – especially the coaches who have invested so much time and energy helping and guiding our student-teams. It’s really thanks them that the City’ZEN Challenge has continued to grow.”
The theme of Edition 6 | 2021-2022
“The climate crisis was definitely on the radar from the start, when we launched the competition in 2016. It’s a core topic and concern in the smart city movement and in the company. Over time, however, we came to the view that this must become the central focus of the competition. Why? First, because the crisis is accelerating faster than nearly all the projections…so it’s become urgent to act. And second, because we wanted to bring it into line with our CSR policies and objectives which prioritize mobilizing support for green tech initiatives and projects.Kyle MAHONEY
So, it was an obvious move that we hope will not only inspire students to participate in the competition but also will allow us to be inspired by students. We want them to help us improve and energize our environmental initiatives. We want them to become our partners and help us develop the solutions that society needs.”
The stakes of the City’ZEN Challenge
Dive deeper into the City’ZEN Challenge. In this video, senior managers of the Berger-Levrault Group discuss the origins, the evolution, the stakes and the future of the competition.
One exciting and exceptional aspect of the City’ZEN Challenge is that since its inception it has seen and benefited from the direct support and involvement of the company’s executives and senior management. At nearly every step of the competition, from the selection of finalist projects in December to the competition’s culminating moment at the final jury in June, they are involved and invested in our efforts to stimulate innovation, recognize student initiatives and to advance the company’s efforts to contribute to a more sustainable and equitable society.
Berger-Levrault, an international software publisher, supports private and public professionals in meeting the rising demands for increased performance and transformation of their businesses.
With 51,000 clients and 1,800 employees in France, Spain, Canada and Morocco, the Group works with local authorities and administrations, medico-social facilities, the hospital sector, companies, the industrial sector and the educational sector.
Berger-Levrault’s ambition is to provide its clients and their users with the great potential of digital technology through service platforms at a time of massive data openings and smart interfaces.
Since the launch of the first City’ZEN Challenge in 2016, the number of our partner-schools has grown from 1 to 10, and the number of campuses from 1 to more than 30. In addition, the City’ZEN Challenge has become an international competition now present in 4 countries and on 3 different continents: France, Spain, Morocco and Canada. For the 6th edition, our goal is to recruit at least 6 more schools, bringing the total to at least 20 partner-schools.