Cognizant emerges as the new CEO factory

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on August 06, 2020

Many key honchos who left company recently heading global firms now

Cognizant Technology Solutions has become a CEO factory with some of the senior heads of verticals who quit the company going on to head global firms.

In July alone, three former officials of Cognizant were appointed CEOs of large global companies. At Cognizant, they were heading multi-billion dollar verticals and each had over a decade of experience with the US-based software major.

“Cognizant has a very good succession plan to help its employees scale up. But it is unprecedented that the market has identified so many CEOs from just one company in a short span of time,” said an official of a recruitment firm.


On July 28, Nirav Patel was named President and CEO at Bristlecone, a Mahindra Group company. As a Senior Vice President (SVP), Patel was leading the global markets at Cognizant’s Communications, Media and Technology business that contributed over $3 billion of the company’s annual revenue.

On July 13, Hitachi Vantara appointed Gajen Kandiah as the CEO. Having worked for over 15 years with Cognizant, Kandiah was leading the company’s over $3 billion-dollar Digital business.

Similarly, on July 10, Collabera, a global technology talent solutions provider, appointed Karthik Krishnamurthy as the CEO. Previously, he was SVP and Global Markets Leader at Cognizant.

Attractive choices

Kamal Karanth, co-founder of Xpheno, a specialist staffing firm, said these officials represented very strong/seasoned second line leadership (some were with Cognizant for 18-20 years). The scale handled by these leaders is one of the best in the industry (most customers served at the global level). The strong vertical orientation and very deep domain depth coupled with length of experience make them favourable choices, he added.

The exodus of many senior officials from Cognizant started in June 2019, just after the new CEO Brian Humphries took over in April. Kaushik Bhaumik, a key member of Cognizant’s executive team, left in June 2019 to become a co-founder and CEO of Glide Health. He led Cognizant’s Healthcare business, a $3 billion industry leader with over 40,000 employees.

Debashis Chatterjee, President, Global Delivery and Digital Systems and Technology at Cognizant, was next to leave to become CEO and Managing Director of Mindtree in July 2019. He was responsible for Cognizant’s delivery of technology services across all industry segments. In the same month, another Cognizant veteran Vipul Khanna became MD & CEO of Firstsource Solutions. At Cognizant Digital Operations, he led a start-up practice into a $2 billion, top-5 global BPO business.

Interestingly, in July this year, three senior Cognizant officials — Pradeep Shilige, Head of Global Delivery; Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, CMD, Cognizant India; and Karen McLoughlin, CFO — left, The market is watching with interest where they are headed.

Published on August 05, 2020

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