Chairman of Cognizant India, Rajesh Nambiar. (By Arrangement)
Hyderabad: As Chairman of Cognizant India, Rajesh Nambiar is one of India’s top technology industry leaders and leads India’s associates and enhances relationships with the government and key policy-making bodies. Cognizant has over 2,40,000 employees across 12 locations based here out of its global workforce of over 3,40,000 employees, besides serving as the president of Cognizant’s digital business and technology globally.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Nambiar, covered a plethora of issues, including the impact that the Coronavirus pandemic has had on the tech industry, its clients globally, changing landscape of the economy, building blocks of organisational culture and key aspects of good leadership.
How has the pandemic impacted business, both tech industry and its clients?
The pandemic has prompted people globally to deeply question their life choices. This applies to individuals, families, and companies and countries, organisations, societies and communities. Companies have tried to refine their culture at a time when most of the work force is not even physically coming to office.
Companies are facing attrition issues which are unique. Our learning has been that people are placing top value on organisational culture. Giving the best work environment and culture are crucial to keep people engaged in a market where the hybrid mode of working has come to stay.
What are the opportunities you have been able to spot and harness in this challenging confusion?
The pandemic has placed a humongous push on all clients to undertake and adopt an accelerated digital transformation of their businesses. In the last two years, companies have transformed themselves digitally in a manner that would have taken three to five more years in the normal course. Businesses have realised that if they do not have digital transformation, they can’t be in business at all. So the pandemic has actually helped digital transformation accelerate significantly.
Secondly, companies have understood the value of resiliency. Companies and people who focused only on efficiency in sourcing and offshoring, across all industries, have now placed a premium on resilience as a crucial factor in taking decisions.
How has the pandemic impacted the people in the workforce?
It was an exceptional achievement of employees spread across the country, who have shown greater tenacity working from homes, at times themselves down with Covid, or having to tend to loved ones suffer. Not all of them might be in a home with a nice desk or facilities to work, yet they transformed into a high performance virtual team with near no notice. During Covid, we witnessed a strong fundamental shift in people across all levels of the organisations, where people began to take greater responsibility and rose to the occasion.
How have companies changed their approach to the workforce?
At Cognizant, we have more than doubled our associate engagement. We have enhanced our flexibility for employees while undertaking massive investments in upskilling. Our initiatives for local communities have also been augmented a lot, with helping not just employees and their families but also disadvantaged sections during the pandemic, especially the second wave.
The pandemic taught us that to become a modern, future-fit organisation, a ‘people first’ approach must be taken alongside financial growth. Digital innovations have to be prioritised with a commitment to building a healthier, safer world. This means putting the health, safety and well-being of people on priority.
What is the future of IT services as you foresee?
The technology shift we are witnessing is humungous, with a great need for artificial intelligence (AI), and hyper-personalised business offerings. There is a huge emphasis on experience, for users, clients, employees and companies will need to build them. There is redesign of enterprises with consumer experience at the centre of this transition. Cyber security is a growing area, with growing enquiries about crypto currency, Quantum computing and Meta. We are truly entering the golden age of digital existence.
How significant is Hyderabad in your larger organisational story?
In Hyderabad, we already have a very huge centre. It is one of the fastest-growing centres for Cognizant. No centre grew as fast as Hyderabad, with 37 per cent of the headcount comprising women associates.
We are doing the best of the digital stack here and have our largest BPO and RPO work happening here. We are handling digital payment solutions for investment banking. We have our centre of excellence in several areas, and our projects in AI, and automation. We are developing a major state-of-the-art lab for digital content and are servicing several major platinum clients from here.
How do you as a leader with over 2.4 lakh employees look after and go about managing, communicating and interacting with people to achieve a cohesive progressive work culture and results?
Whatever the size of a workforce, one has to look at it as one big family. The first priority is to focus on the health, including mental health, and overall well-being of every single employee and continue to foster a culture of trust. Ensuring psychological safety is crucial.
For people to do phenomenal work, we must make it a tenet to create an atmosphere of no repercussions for bringing out areas that need improvements or for speaking out.