Home >Companies >People >We look forward to scale up Indian hiring: Brian Humphries

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. on Thursday posted a 29% year-on-year decline in net profit at $361 million for the June quarter, as the impact of the covid-19 pandemic and the maze ransomware attack early in the quarter dented sales. The Teaneck, New Jersey-based firm’s revenue for the quarter stood at $4 billion, down 3.4% from the year-ago quarter. The firm that has seen a string of senior-level exits also announced that Jan Siegmund will be appointed chief financial officer, effective 1 September. In an interview, Brian Humphries, CEO, Cognizant talks about the business visibility, the H1-B visa impact and the exits. Edited excerpts:

When do you expect to see recovery and what will drive it?

Macro demand, although still uncertain, is better than we anticipated in April. Our momentum is broad-based across our service lines, geographies, and industries. North America is 75% of our business and had bookings growth of more than 25% this year. Life sciences, technology and our manufacturing, energy, utilities and logistics businesses are growing in excess of 10%.

What's your strategy for growth in the next few quarters? Also, how's the deal pipeline?

June was an exceptional month, so we enter Q3 with momentum. Moreover, leading indicators are strong, with qualified pipeline up double-digits year-over-year. Win rates continue to be solid. We remain confident that our digital, client, industry and geographic revenue mix positions us favorably.

There have been several layoffs and resignations, including that of senior-level executives. What's the reason?

We enforced meritocracy this year, which means we are in the process of upgrading our talent, leading to departures. Interestingly, voluntary attrition has trended down now for four consecutive quarters and was just 10.5% this quarter. It is true, that we have also had to adjust our cost structure to reflect the top line realities of covid-19. Personally, I think we now have a world-class and diverse leadership team. We decided recently to hire a more senior Indian MD who will become a member of our Executive Committee.

Given the slow demand, are you re-looking at your bench policy?

The reason I am so excited about our growth momentum is that revenue solves all evils. Our leading indicators, such as our pipeline, are strong. We are investing in digital and reskilling our workforce to ensure they are equipped for the demands of digital. In the meantime, we have aligned our bench policies with the demand environment.

How has the H1-B visa ban impacted Cognizant? Are you increasing local hiring in the US?

The recent H-1B visa suspension will not have an immediate impact on our business. Like many of our peers, over the past several years, we have increased our local hiring and reduced our dependence on visas to de-risk our business. We believe, however, that fair immigration policies are vital to the U.S. economy and to Cognizant. We look forward to continuing to scale our Indian hiring and facilitating international careers for our talented associates.

What is your return-to-office strategy for your employees?

We remain focused on the health and safety of our associates while maintaining business continuity for our clients and supporting our communities. We do not plan on reopening our facilities broadly until the end of the year. Meanwhile, associates around the world quickly adapted to work-from-home conditions, stayed productive and helped our clients successfully navigate the initial shock of the pandemic.

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