Brian Humphries
Brian Humphries

Cognizant appoints Vodafone executive Brian Humphries as CEO

  • Humphries to take over from D’Souza, who will continue as executive VC
  • Humphries was chosen over Cognizant’s current president Rajeev Mehta, who will leave the company on 1 April

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. named Brian Humphries, currently chief executive of Vodafone Business, as chief executive officer (CEO) succeeding Francisco D’Souza, under whose helm the revenue of the New Jersey-based company surged more than 11-fold to $16.1 billion in 12 years.

The appointment of Humphries is effective 1 April, after which D’Souza will continue for three months as executive vice chairman. D’Souza will become non-executive vice chairman on 1 July.

Humphries was chosen over Cognizant’s current president Rajeev Mehta, who will leave the company on 1 April. Before joining Vodafone, Humphries, 45, was with Dell for four years and prior to that spent a decade with Hewlett Packard.

At Vodafone, Humphries was overseeing a $4.5 billion business that included the world’s largest telecom firm’s solutions in areas such as internet of things, security solutions, and cloud-hosting services.

“It’s been quite a run," D’Souza said in a post-earnings call with analysts. “This is my 48th quarter. And when I look back, we’ve scaled our talent base over that period from 39,000 to 282,000 associates. And since our IPO (June 1998), we’ve increased the company’s market value more than 400-fold—from less than $100 million to approximately $40 billion."

“I’ve spent half my life at Cognizant… last year, in connection with the board’s regular leadership assessment and succession planning processes, I informed my fellow board members that I was considering stepping down from my role as CEO sometime in 2019," said D’Souza.

Mint reported about the succession change at Cognizant with the board considering an outsider to succeed D’Souza sometime in the current year on 13 September.

“Brian (Humphries) is a terrific executive and I look forward to working with him closely to ensure the smoothest possible transition…(Humphries has) a track record of success across multiple companies, industries, technologies, geographies, roles, and organisational cultures."

The opportunity to lead Cognizant is exciting, said Humphries.

D’Souza said that the board carried out a very through and methodical process and as the board assessed its choices the company thought of Humphries as the best candidate as he is a highly regarded technology executive.

“Brian is a ‘safe bet’ for an external hire," said Phil Fersht, chief executive of US-based HfS Research, an outsourcing-research firm. “The Cognizant board clearly wanted to change the old culture of largely promoting 20-year veterans from within. I believe the board senses the winds of change swirling the services industry and wants to use this opportunity to bring in an outside-in approach."

On Wednesday, Cognizant reported 8.9% revenue growth in 2018 to end with $16.13 billion in revenue. For 2019, Cognizant expects to grow between 7% and 9% in constant currency terms.