Cognizant on the hunt for new boss in India

27 August 2020 3 min. read
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Global digital consultancy Cognizant is on the lookout for a new Chairman & Managing Director (CMD) in India, following the resignation of Ramakumar Ramamoorthy from the helm last month.

Ramamoorthy was at Cognizant for more than two decades, occupying a number of key senior leadership roles. During his time at Cognizant, the firm grew from a 1,000-strong team of professionals generating revenues of less than $30 million to a nearly 300,000 employee operation with $17 billion in revenues. He took the reigns as CMD last year, and resigned from the firm this year, leaving open a highly coveted position.

As CMD, Ramamoorthy reported to an executive committee (EC) consisting of Cognizant CEO Brian Humphries, CFO Karen McLoughlin, CPO Rebecca Schmitt and COO Srinivasan Veeraraghavachary.

According to an email sent out by Humphries, the new CMD will report to the same EC, and will be tasked with building Cognizant’s India network among “government agencies, chambers of commerce, universities, the media, and key policy-making bodies, including Nasscom.”

As Cognizant embarks on their search for a new front man, little is known about prospects to fill the position. Livemint reports that the firm is open to both internal and external candidates for the role, as long as there is demonstrable expertise in corporate governance, the Indian business environment, and the latest in tech.

At any rate, the new appointment is likely digital focused, given that Humphries has previously indicated India’s importance as a key innovation and delivery centre for Cognizant’s global operation. The firm’s digital business currently makes up more than 40% of its revenue, occupying centre stage at the global level. 

Challenging environment

Given India’s importance in Cognizant’s global landscape, Humphries has previously indicated that the firm will focus on hiring digital talent in the country. However, plans have certainly changed since the Covid-19 crisis early this year, with Cognizant cutting approximately 7,000 jobs in India as part of cost saving measures.

The cut is the highest among any IT services firm in India. Cognizant has frozen all hiring, and droves of graduate recruits that the firm had lined up to join in September have been deferred indefinitely. Add to this the fact that Ramamoorthy’s departure followed a string of exits from the firm’s senior ranks in India, and the extent of restructuring efforts at the firm becomes evident.

Among the exits since May are: Jaideep Poondir, Senior Vice President (SVP) for banking and financial services, Rajesh Balaji, SVP and global delivery head of enterprise application services, and Vinayambika Kidiyur, SVP and global delivery transformation head.

Also departing from the firm is Pradeep Shilige, who has been at Cognizant for more than two decades and was most recently the global delivery head. He will remain at Cognizant until 30 September in order to manage the transition for his successor Andy Stafford.