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SPARK OF THE CORPORATE

To serve the global marketplace, you need to be global…

He is the youngest CEOs of a company of this extent. At 24, he was already part of Cognizant Technology Solutions, an American it services company that was created to leverage the India advantage. At 33 he got elected as a Chief Operating Officer of the same company and four years later, he was promoted as CEO of it. Francisco D’Souza is one of the CEO's who could achieve this accomplishment at an early age and thus transformed Cognizant on remarkable stage.

 

Early Days & Education

D'Souza is a person of Indian origin (PIO), born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1968, and spent his childhood nearly 9 countries. His father was worked for IFS (Indian Foreign Services). He got a great global exposure as his father use to relocating to multiple countries as per his job. Early days of life, his family spent couple of years in Africa like Kenya, Ethiopia and Zaire. His father is a dedicated civil servant and his job involves about promoting India in different parts of the world. Part of his father’s job, D’Souza’s family travelled around the world and enrolled in different international schools rather than local schools and assimilated between multi diverse cultures and learned local languages of those countries where they lived. It has added much value to his future career. He gives all credits to his parents for giving him a chance to live and think in a global perspective from the childhood itself. When they relocated to Hongkong, he could find only one English medium university and that too they runs only night classes, so he started working in mornings. He learned programming to earn some money as a contract coder, that he never expected that, it was going to change his life forever.

D'Souza holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of East Asia and a Master of Business Administration degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

Early Career

D’Souza has nearly 20 years of rich experience in the software sector in both operational and advisory areas. But he started his career as a clerical grade employee of Indian Overseas Bank in Hong Kong branch. D’Souza started working at the age of 18, to gain relevant skills and practical experience and completed his education at the same time. After that, he worked for four years at various departments of The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation (which is the parent company of Cognizant later on it was spun off as a new company called Cognizant Corporation), holding key positions in marketing, strategic planning, and business development in Germany, the U.S. and India. It has given him a chance to explore himself in multiple areas of business development and helped to acquire rich experience.

Journey with Cognizant

He joined Cognizant in 1994, as a co-founder of the company. He works closely with the clients of cognizant who are using offshore resources to execute large software development and maintenance projects and supervises the business development and operational activities of the company. When Lakshmi Narayanan (Ex. CEO of Cognizant) was promoted as a Vice Chairman of Cognizant, Francisco D'Souza was named as Chief Executive Officer in 2007, at the age of 38. He is among the youngest Chief Executive Officers of the IT sector. Francisco responsible for Cognizant’s global delivery, marketing and sales, business development, and client services organizations.

Journey at a Glance

*Executive Officer and became a member of the Board of Directors, effective January 1, 2007.
*He served as Chief Operating Officer from December 2003 through December 2006.
*Prior to that, from November 1999 to December 2003, he served as Senior Vice President, North American Operations and Business Development.
*From March 1998 to November 1999, he served as Vice President, North American Operations and Business Development.
*He served as a Director-North American Operations and Business Development from June 1997 to March 1998.
*From January 1996 to June 1997, he was engaged as a consultant.
*From February 1995 to December 1995, he was employed as Product Manager at Pilot Software.
*Between 1992 and 1995, Mr. D’Souza held various marketing, business development and technology management positions as a Management Associate at The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation.

Being Global

D’Souza has strengthened the client relationships by delivering the unique value proposition that matches with intimate domain expert client teams with a robust seamless global delivery network. D'Souza had a clear game plan - focus on a few areas and expand into adjacent ones, be it new geographies, solutions, or industries. Throughout 2011, added 317 new clients and increased the number of strategic clients by 25 to 191, the largest increase in Cognizant history. Cognizant’s revenues have grown from $1.4 billion to over $7 billion and its employees have expanded from 55,000 to over 1,50,000,under the leadership of D’Souza.

The strategic decisions which have been taken by him at the time of global crisis helped the company to stand steadily in the market. He categorized the company's services in three categories like Horizon 1 (Which offer application development and maintenance services), Horizon 2 (Which offer BPO, IT Infrastructure Services & business consulting services) and Horizon 3 (Which offer "SMAC" - Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud services). He believes social media, cloud and mobile analytics as an emerging business accelerators (EBAs), and expects those to be the driving forces for the future growth of Cognizant.

From the beginning, he built the organization with 'multi-cultural' flavor. He loves experimentation and also believes that, to serve the global marketplace, need to be global. D’Souza got exposed to a varied mix of management styles over the years at Cognizant. He worked with three bosses whom have distinct, strong approaches and USPs. Spending his childhood in many countries has been given him a chance to learn new languages, networking with new friends, explore different cuisines, and living with diverse cultures. He attributes much of his and Cognizant's success to his childhood.

Family

Francisco D'Souza lives with his wife, a son and a daughter in New Jersey. When he offered with CEO position, he first thought of his family and accepted it only, when he convinced that he could balance both. And he makes sure that he spends quality time with them, when he is at home. He says that “When I am trying to make it sound glamorous, I say I was playing soccer. The real story is that I was playing with a bunch of eight-year-old kids”.

Other Associations

*Serves on the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Mellon University and The New York Hall of Science and the US India Business Council.
*Member of the World Economic Forum, the Business Round Table and the Science Visiting Council for the acclaimed PBS science program, NOVA.
*Serves on the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Mellon University and the Board of Trustees of The New York Hall of Science.
*The Board of Directors of General Electric-- has inducted him into its board.

 

Awards

Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the year” finalist for 2002.
The “Economic Times Entrepreneur” Award for 2005.
Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” for 2007.
Named among “America’s Best CEOs” by Institutional Investor magazine for 2009.
Honored with “Dataquest IT Person of the Year” for 2012.
Glassdoor’s top ten highest rated CEOs for 2013.
The South Asian MBA Association recently named him “CEO of the Year”.

Quotes

  No single individual can execute successfully in this fast and complex world.
  It was all about expertise and track record. If anything, my age was seen as an advantage.
  It’s about seizing opportunities and proving your mettle..
  We have all the elements of rapid change combined with economic, political, and social uncertainty. Uncertainty is the new normal.
  Being a young CEO isn’t much different from being an older CEO.
  I am honoured to join the board of GE -- a company that has been an icon of innovation and management since it was founded.
  It's unfortunate, but we live in a celebrity-based environment.
  For competitiveness, we believe you have to have a skilled workforce and an adequate supply.
  There needs to be a greater public-private partnership around the issue of competitiveness so that the public and private sectors working together can further the competitiveness of the U.S
  As our business scales and the complexity of the business problems that we’re solving for clients increases, the different groups at Cognizant need to cooperate with each other to deliver end-to-end solutions. So, collaboration is going to become the ‘killer’ competency for the next generation of growth.

Hope viewers caught up the spark…

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