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Since joining Cognizant in 2022, Sarah Tulip has spearheaded our Leeds Delivery Centre and our community engagement in and around Leeds. She shares her highlights from the past year.

Leeds is the most important place in the country to me. It’s where I chose to live my life, it’s where I raised my son, and it has one of the most diverse and dynamic digital scenes in the whole of the UK—a scene I’m proud to be a part of.  

So when Cognizant hired me last year to head up the launch and growth of the company’s new Leeds Delivery Centre, it was a culmination of a journey I’d been on for a long time. 

I was already running a not-for-profit, WILD Digital, focused on empowering people from under-represented backgrounds to shine in the north of England’s digital sector. That’s a mission that’s close to Cognizant’s heart as well, so it was a real meeting of minds. 

Now, a year on, it’s a good moment to look back on everything we’ve achieved in the past twelve months, and look forward to what’s ahead.

The Leeds Delivery Centre: from 0 to 100+ in just a few months

One of my biggest highlights has to be the opening of the Leeds Delivery Centre in November 2022. I saw it grow from an idea that only existed in spreadsheets and PowerPoint slides to a real, vibrant space that now employs well over 100 people serving a growing local and international client base. 

The launch itself caused a huge buzz—we’d bargained for 80 people turning up, but on launch night there was standing room only with 120 people in attendance.  

People came from across Leeds to see the new space and hear about our plans, including representatives from Leeds City Council, the Leeds Digital Festival and FinTech North, as well as from our clients and the Cognizant leadership team. We were incredibly privileged too to have a talk and Q&A with the Lionesses’ Alex Greenwood, just after their epic win at the UEFA Women’s Euros.

Since then the centre has gone from strength to strength. We’re bringing global consultancy and delivery expertise to a wide range of clients across Leeds and the north of England, including NHS England, DWP, HMRC, Morrisons and AXA. We’ve hosted 621 visitors—including a tech delegation from India—in our collaborative workspace. And despite the tough economic conditions, we’re still aiming to create 1,000 jobs in Leeds, so watch this space for news on that. 

Championing digital careers in Leeds and West Yorkshire 

But for me and Cognizant alike, it’s as much about giving back to the community as it is about our own growth. 

A key part of that is supporting people from diverse backgrounds to break into a digital career and thrive in the sector. We’ve engaged in a huge range of activities designed to foster the region’s tech talent—from conducting outreach with schools and universities, to funding apprenticeships via the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, to providing grants and digital skills bootcamps for smaller not-for-profits via the Leeds Community Foundation.

A big highlight was our sponsorship of the Leeds Digital Careers Fair, attended by thousands of people keen to explore opportunities in digital. One of our messages is that you don’t have to be techy to get a job in tech, and it’s starting to get across—people are coming to events like this and realising there are roles like UX designer and software tester that don’t involve coding. Encouragingly, more than half of the delegates were women, giving me real hope that we can turn the tide on gender diversity in tech.

We’re sponsoring the Digital Careers Fair again this year and aiming to do even more to help people take their first step into a tech career. We’re running a program of workshops, and we’re even bringing a photographer so people can get professional headshots for their LinkedIn profiles and job applications. Come along and meet us!

Recognising and encouraging diversity

I can’t talk about giving back to Leeds without also mentioning Cognizant’s sponsorship of Leeds Pride on 6 August—a fantastic day and a great opportunity to celebrate with colleagues and people from across the city. As a gay woman it’s incredibly important to me to have that kind of support and recognition from an employer, and for people to see that Cognizant supports diversity in all its forms. 

In fact, recognizing and encouraging diversity is behind so many of my highlights of the past year. A Cognizant-sponsored ‘Female Voices’ dinner, for example, brought together 100 women and allies, at different stages in their tech career, to make connections and lift each other up.  

We heard inspirational talks from Leanne Potter, head of security operations at Asda, Natasha Sayce-Zelem, head of partner engineering at Amazon Prime Video, and Cognizant programmer analyst Goodness Ngodigha. It was a joyful evening all round, and a real antidote to standard networking events.

Looking forward to the Leeds Digital Festival 2023

In all, the past year has been a bit of a whirlwind! It’s incredible to look back at everything that’s been achieved, all of the great things that have been set in motion, and all of the brilliant people I’ve met in my time so far at Cognizant. 

I’m now super-excited for this year’s Leeds Digital Festival and Careers Fair in September, where we’re going to be hosting events around future cities, service management, careers and mental wellbeing, participating in the Leeds Tech football tournament among others. If you’re planning to be there, do come and say hello!

Sarah Tulip

Head of Leeds Delivery Centre, UK&I, Cognizant

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