Cognizant India MD quits within a year of taking over

Ramkumar Ramamoorthy (File photo)

BENGALURU: Top level exits at Cognizant is no longer news. But this one will surprise many. Cognizant India chairman & MD Ramkumar Ramamoorthy resigned on Thursday, less than a year into this role. Ramamoorthy – or Ram as he is fondly called by the IT and media fraternity – spent over 22 years with the Nasdaq-listed firm, serving multiple roles including in branding and academic outreach. As India chairman, he was also a member of the company’s global executive leadership team.
Ramamoorthy was a data man, reeling out balance sheet numbers, not only of Cognizant but even of rivals, with ease. He often went beyond what his role required to position Cognizant’s growth story – and it was a great growth story, until a couple of years ago.
In a LinkedIn post on Thursday, Ramamoorthy said, “For more than 22 years, Cognizant was the world to me. All of you made that world so beautiful that I was eternally in awe of it. In the past few months, I felt a strong desire to double down on my abiding passion (also my first calling!)—education, skilling and mentoring entrepreneurs. I am all set to explore that world again from July 17.”
Cognizant CEO Brian Humphries, who took over last year, has been shaking up the top deck and has made a slew of internal changes in an effort to steady a company that was till a few years ago a darling of Wall Street.
Executive vice president Pradeep Shilige, a 24-year Cognizant veteran who headed global delivery, has resigned too. He will stay on till September to ensure a smooth handoff. Humphries, in a communication to employees, said former Accenture senior MD Andy Stafford will replace Shilige. Stafford spent nearly two decades with Accenture where he rose to senior MD responsible for the firm’s global delivery network for technology, an organization of 100,000 professionals operating in more than 20 countries. After he left Accenture in late 2013, Andy held a variety of executive positions that include COO of Computacenter and global head of services and delivery for Unisys.
“Globalizing Cognizant goes beyond our geographic revenue mix, the number of countries we operate in, the diversity of backgrounds and locations of our leadership teams, or how well known our brand is around the world. It also requires us to have a global delivery network that is robust and resilient enough to ensure continuity of service for clients no matter what’s happening in the world,” Humphries, said in an email.
Humphries said Cognizant needs a global delivery network that is robust and resilient enough to ensure continuity of service for clients no matter what’s happening in the world. “I’ve asked Andy to take a fresh look at our delivery organization and refine our operating model to achieve world-class effectiveness,” he said.
Responding to the Cognizant changes, Phil Fersht, CEO of US-based HfS Research, said this is not a time to bury one’s head in the sand and hope good times will return – “the only course of action is to make swift, and often painful changes, to stay in the preferred provider mix for key clients.”
Fersht said this pandemic and ensuing recessionary crisis could well prove to be advantageous to Cognizant — the playing field has been levelled for top tier IT services firms, allowing Humphries to complete the internal changes and market positioning he views essential to place the firm back where it was performing 3-4 years ago. “Moreover, a supportive Board will allow the firm to pivot away from legacy outsourcing practices, where other India-heritage providers are struggling.”

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