Cognizant To Step Up Hiring In India, Other Markets: CEO Brian Humphries
Employees work at their computer screen. (Photographer: Kerem Uzel/Bloomberg)

Cognizant To Step Up Hiring In India, Other Markets: CEO Brian Humphries

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U.S.-based Cognizant is confident of gaining the “bellwether” status in the IT sector as it steps up hiring across geographies, including India, to meet the demands of clients that are investing increasingly on digital transformation, its chief executive officer has said.

Playing down any concerns around slowdown in demand, Cognizant CEO Brian Humphries told PTI that companies across sectors are increasingly looking at IT services not as a choice but as a fuel for growing their overall business.

"It's important to recognise that services companies like ours, sometimes regardless of the market environment, are addressing the needs of customers that increasingly view IT as the business and not as a choice or cost centre," said Humphries.

Humphries, who replaced Francesco D’Souza as Cognizant CEO earlier this year, has spent the past few months in marathon meetings with clients and employees.

"In the last few years, it has been said that we haven't reached our full potential, certainly relative to the heady heights of Cognizant's historical levels," he said.

But it is his firm belief that Cognizant, which has about 2 lakh employees in India, is a "fundamentally healthy company" that has all the ingredients to reach its potential again. "...and that's what I and my leadership team have been focused on—trying to unlock the potential for Cognizant to once again be the bellwether of the industry. I think we've got a great strategy, we've got great talent, and now it's time for execution," Humphries said.

The U.S.-based IT firm's revenue grew 3.4 percent to $4.14 billion in the second quarter of 2019. For the July-September quarter, it expects revenue growth to be at 3.8-4.8 percent in constant currency terms, while for the full year, the topline is forecast to grow by 3.9-4.9 percent.

On whether Cognizant was looking at job cuts and slower pace of hiring, Humphries said that there will be net addition in the company’s employee headcount.

"There will be job creation in Cognizant in years to come in India and internationally. The real story of Cognizant is a growth story. Our goal is to get back to basics and to accelerate revenue growth... We will take in more freshers each year. In fact, this year, we have more than 30 percent increase, versus the prior year," he said.

Cognizant is also partnering leading universities in India to train the workforce on new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things and cybersecurity.

"In an organisation of 288,000, there will always be some reskilling, some re-balancing. But ultimately, I expect to have a net increase in headcount," he said.

On the opportunities presented by India, Humphries said the market should continue to grow rapidly for the company.

"We're exploring how we can accelerate our investments in India and our commercial success in India. Our business here's a few hundred million dollars in size per annum... There's an opportunity for us to accelerate our business here in India... India sits within what's called our global growth markets, and that business should certainly hope to grow 20-plus per cent on a year over year basis," he said.

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