The exit saga at Cognizant continues as more senior leaders step down. Among these exits are Jaideep Poondir, SVP in the banking and financial services vertical, Rajesh Balaji, SVP and global delivery head of enterprise application services practice, and Vinayambika Kidiyur, SVP and global delivery transformation head.
Poondir was a Cognizant veteran and Balaji, oversaw a $2-billion portfolio comprising Fortune 500 customers and led its SAP and other ERP practices. Other two VPs, Archana Ramanakumar, global delivery head of the life sciences business, and Vikash Gaur, global delivery head & digital engineering at Cognizant, have also resigned. Further, as per the report, while Ramanakumar resigned in April, others are serving their notice period.
Some of these leaders have delayed their exit to support Cognizant navigate the pandemic.
In October last year, Cognizant had announced its plan to cut about 7000 jobs in the next few quarters as the company started to restructure the organization. It had shared its plan to remove a number of mid-to-senior employees, and redeploy about 5000 of those impacted. The update back then was that the company has spent $49 million to pay for the employees it has let go and $29 million to retain key employees in the December quarter, as it restructures its business. Even with ongoing restructuring and continued exits at senior management, last year, Cognizant became the second IT company to touch the 2-lakh employee mark in India.
The iT companies restructuring plans got a bit distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic as the firm now has an added and more urgent situation to deal with. In response to the impact of the current global health crisis on its business, Cognizant took many steps to ensure business continuity and keep employees morale in check. Taking a different approach to salaries, Cognizant planned to pay about two-thirds of its employees an additional 25% of their base salary in their April salary, as a ‘sign of gratitude’ for their efforts in continuing to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, as the situation didn’t improve and the lockdown continued in India, Cognizant had to defer joining of campus recruits to September quarter. Given the subdued demand environment, Cognizant will freeze most of its lateral hiring across all functions in India, with few exceptions in sales roles.
While Cognizant will freeze most of its lateral hiring across all functions in India, there will be few exceptions in sales roles.
“We will continue to move forward with our sales hiring plan and other key positions and honour all outstanding accepted offers," said Humphries. “The size and timing of any changes to our workforce will unfold as the demand environment becomes clearer."
Cognizant also hinted that it would tweak its bench policies to the current environment. Humphries feels that traditional industry bench policies do not adequately address the interest of the impacted employees. “Consequently, any employee impacted by demand/supply imbalances may benefit from extended medical coverage and exit packages through the end of the third quarter," he said.
While Cognizant deals with crisis and the senior management exits continue, its focus on digitization and upskilling talent has been intact. Globally, Cognizant has been focussing on strengthening its capabilities in four key areas: data, digital engineering, cloud, and the internet of things (IoT). As part of this, the company has already doubled its investment in Cognizant Academy so that it can redeploy staff in these new skill sets.