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At Cognizant, career growth and leadership development are top priorities.
Meet, connect and create new business relationships through community building and by celebrating career achievements.
Collaborator and problem solver
“When our projects
go live and end users
have access to
new technologies that
make their lives easier,
I couldn’t be happier.”
Discovering how much I like working with people was a surprise to me. As engagement lead for a medical devices manufacturer, I oversee a project portfolio that cuts across diverse technologies, from productivity improvement, manufacturing execution transformation (MES) to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) consolidation and smart manufacturing. User experience is a big part of what our team delivers, and when our projects go live and end users have access to new technologies that make their lives easier, I couldn’t be happier.
The best part of my job? Collaboration with internal and client stakeholders for problem solving and solutioning. My expertise in Oracle and Microsoft products are my core strengths, and I work closely with client teams to figure out how best to support their work and their investments.
Cognizant has given me a platform to learn the business and to identify my real passion for exploring new ideas and technologies.
Striking the right balance
“We’re showing that
women can do
cool jobs like
and they can do them
really, really well.”
Balance and opportunity are important to me. I almost didn’t apply for my first job here at Advanced Technology Group because the job description seemed daunting. But then the recruiter who turned me down for an administrative job I’d applied for at another company offered me what she called unsolicited advice: “You need to go for something harder.”
I valued her feedback. (OK, maybe not initially.) So I aimed higher and went for the ATG job. I figured, what do I have to lose? I went for the opportunity.
My work at Cognizant is about balance in several areas because a big part of what I do is to cultivate teams that work. As Director of Application Support, I make sure our clients and teams have everything they need. I also participate in recruiting to ensure we have the right mix of talent.
Through our women’s affinity group, we encourage and promote equality, with a focus on women in technology. We’re showing that women can do cool jobs like development and data engineering, and they can do them really, really well.
With more outreach to women, we’ve struck a much healthier hiring balance as a company. I’m a firm believer that if it’s awkward, it’s worth talking about. We’ve had those hard conversations about meeting dynamics and how women can potentially get talked over. We’ve talked about “mansplaining”. A couple of our male counterparts have said, “I think I do that.” The conversations have led to a permanent shift in how we work together.
Communicate and resonate
“The closeness that
we have cultivated
in the book club helps
me develop a sensitive
ear for inclusive language
and has made me a
I began reading books on women in business when I joined Cognizant. I wanted to know my colleagues’ thoughts on the stories and strategies I’d been reading about. Had they tried these approaches? How did it go for them? As it turned out, my colleagues shared a desire to discuss books featuring women and business. We started the Women Empowered book club, and four years later, we still meet every other month—dialing in from all over the world.
We started with beloved standards, like Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. Then we expanded, inviting colleagues of all genders to read Athena Rising, which catalyzed discussions about men supporting women and actively contributing to gender equality at work. We transitioned to addressing family life and race, and watched Kimberlé Crenshaw’s TEDwomen talk, The Urgency of Intersectionality. Openly discussing multiple aspects of our identities—seen and unseen—allowed us to examine how we are treated at work and, how we can better support one another. Members of this book club create opportunities for each other, promote each other’s good work to leadership and call on each other for help. Our book club has fostered a community invested in empowering women to accomplish their goals.
Lessons from the book club compliment my communications work, particularly when I assess how my work will resonate with an audience. Ensuring that all women have opportunities to achieve big things requires vulnerability and closeness. The closeness that we have cultivated in the book club helps me develop a sensitive ear for inclusive language and has made me a stronger communicator.
Voice for diversity and equality
“I see the value of diversity
firsthand through my work
on the leadership team
and in planning strategy.”
My commitment to diversity and inclusion is personal and professional. When I first applied for a job opening at an IT company, the team leader said he was reluctant to hire me because I was a woman. After I’d been there three months, he told me my work had changed his mind.
I decided he wasn’t the only one with these stereotypes of women working in technology.
Riga TechGirls is a way for me to help other women. It’s a nongovernmental organization that promotes IT opportunities for women, and I volunteer as the community manager. We hold hands-on workshops for newcomers, no experience needed, on topics like chatbots and IoS and Android programming. We also host inspirational meetups and invite women speakers to share their success stories. We’re growing fast, and last year organized Latvia’s first-ever Women in Tech conference. This year, we hosted a hackathon for girls, another first here in Latvia.
As a business development manager here at the Cognizant Latvia delivery center, I see the value of diversity firsthand through my work on the leadership team and in planning our center’s overall strategy. Diversity brings business benefits that a lot of people aren’t aware of, so I also spread the message at the corporate level. At last year’s Riga Comm conference, I spoke before 150 people and advocated for diversity and the value it brings to organizations. People came up to me after the session and thanked me for bringing another angle in.
Building a welcoming environment
“If I can truly understand
customers' needs and add
a softer touch in terms of
encouragement to my team,
it makes a huge difference.”
I manage Quality Engineering teams in Boston, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Kolkata, Kochi, Bangalore and Chennai. What I like best about my work is that there’s no room for complacency. Technology is changing so fast. It’s like fixing a car while the engine is running. My mission is to help clients build great organizations by focusing on people, process, and technology. When my customer feels they’re in good hands, it makes my day.
We spend a lot of time as a team ideating and exploring new ideas in hyper-automation and full-stack quality engineering. The real value is in the team, and in our collaboration. When I joined Cognizant right out of college, one of my managers said, “Happy people do quality work, so I want you to be happy.” As I’ve grown, I’ve realized that extends to the people around me. If I can truly understand customers’ needs and add a softer touch in terms of encouragement to my team, it makes a huge difference. I want everyone on the team to feel safe and supported, and free to share their ideas without feeling judged. I truly believe that building psychologically safe teams, organically produces high performing teams!
Even when I’m not at work, I like to stay busy. I like my days to be packed. Music is my passion. I love listening to music and I practice violin and drums.
“I like change, and
I like driving change.”
I have a coaching approach to leadership, and it’s what I think about every day when I get up. How do I motivate people and teach them to be more influential?
We’re not successful at a client if only one person has mindshare. Our work is about building relationships and mindshare on a broader scale: Everyone who interfaces with the client has to show passion, capability and creative ideas. So I spend 50% of my day teaching, coaching and mentoring. Most of my teaching moments aren’t about IT but about how we could have done it differently. It’s all about learning.
I like change, and I like driving change. When I look at a client in distress or a stabilization situation, I see it as a qualified opportunity. I look for the potential beyond the initial issue to be solved.
In adversity, you get opportunity. That’s been a cornerstone of my life. I started out as a chemical engineer and wound up in aerospace. From there I moved on to running supply chains and eventually managed large programs. In each case, I needed to figure out how to leverage a different set of skills.
Now I apply those same problem-solving skills in my work as a consultant. The long and short is, very often in life we’re given opportunities, and if we’re not afraid to fail, we see there’s something we can learn.
Partnering with clients and communities
“Leading volunteer initiatives
has been as fulfilling
as my current role.”
My unorthodox journey began with nearly two decades as a high school English teacher in India before I meandered my way to graduate school in the US and then morphed into a technology career as a Business Analyst and Scrum Master. I’ve thrived amid emerging and disruptive technologies, and teams that transcend geographies.
There are many parallels between teaching and industry. For me, an important one is that both offer opportunities to give back to the communities we live in. I’ve organized more than 100 events in my region for Cognizant, and I can say that the STEM initiatives have helped me keep my connection with teaching and mentoring. Outreach events feed my soul.
For me, leading volunteer initiatives is as fulfilling as my work. My interactions with nonprofits helped me better understand the needs and challenges of the community we live in. Through the local chapter of Women Empowered (WE), we focus on issues that matter most to women, whether it’s mentoring girl students at a local high school or raising funds to support organizations that focus on women’s health. Most important, by collaborating with clients on STEM, Outreach and WE events, we reinforce our relationships with them and forge great partnerships.
Human experience + digital outcomes
“Being an anthropologist in the
workplace means being an outsider
—and that’s a good thing. It’s a
helpful role when you’re trying
to question assumptions.”
I’ve always been interested in trying to unpack the “why” behind things. Social and cultural anthropology are about understanding assumptions that form how we look at the world. It’s a critical lens.
After teaching a few courses at the University of Toronto, I started looking for opportunities outside of academia. I saw a listserv posting for a job at Idea Couture (IC). The job was resident anthropologist. I had no idea what that was.
I’ve been at IC for eight years. There’s a greater awareness today of cultural anthropology in business than when I started. I used to have to tell people, “I don’t do bones, I don’t do stones, I do people.”
Being an anthropologist in the workplace means being an outsider—and that’s a good thing. It’s a helpful role when you’re trying to question assumptions. I ask questions in meetings that, say, an innovation strategist might not. I can help uncover ambiguities that need to be understood better.
In our work with clients, we always start with the human experience. Whether we’re creating an online support program for people with lupus, or a dashboard for a bank, the digital piece comes later. Before we articulate the digital experience, we take time to first understand what it means to live with lupus, or to work at a bank. That understanding makes the outcomes we deliver much more relevant.
We have a wacky range of people here at IC. I have one colleague who makes furniture and another who makes bow ties. The company has always been supportive of the broader contexts of our lives. My daughter was about two years old when I started at IC; she’s now 10, and my little guy is six. They’ve both grown up here in the office—spent a lot of time hanging out with mama at work!
Turning new ideas into impactful products
“I’m drawn to the problem-solving
aspect of product marketing.
I love the thought and
rigor involved in taking
a product to market.”
When I graduated from Georgetown University, an advisor told me, “Go west: there’s this technology thing going on.” So I started a tech company, and I’ve worked in technology ever since.
Here at Cognizant, I began in the Cognizant Accelerator, where we incubated new practices, products, even business models for the company. In 2018, Cognizant tapped me to move from Portland, Oregon to London, where I later joined the marketing team.
In the Global Messaging and Portfolio Marketing team, we’re building a new function that’s two parts solution marketing, one part thought leadership and one part storytelling. Our growth is built on the amazing outcomes we’ve created for our clients, our culture and values, our continuous search for knowledge and a phenomenal and ever-growing portfolio of capabilities. It’s my team’s job to tell these stories–and empower our sales teams to share them.
It’s a perfect fit for me: the chance to build and operationalize something meaningful, to go from vision to reality. And the autonomy I have at Cognizant is ideal for working around a busy home life: my husband and I have two young boys, one with Down syndrome, which adds an invigorating dimension to life as an expat.
Mastering the art of the possible
“I make sure I take time to advocate
for others. It’s amazing what we can do
when someone tells us we can get there.”
The best part of my job is sitting with clients and my team, listening and talking and working through problems. Creating solutions with clients is always exciting to me. A lot of our sessions are about brainstorming ideas and diversification of opinion. How can we push our thinking to get clients where they want to be?
I wear two hats at Cognizant. On the technology side, I focus on communications and media, working with clients across their enterprises and on digital transformation. I also work on digital infrastructure like software-defined networks and virtualization. How do you take a network environment and add software capabilities to create cool experiences for customers and the enterprise? And what does it mean for those affected in terms of reskilling?
A client once told me that she liked that I was straight with her even in uncomfortable situations. She said she could trust me to solve problems in a fair way. I always make a point of passing that along to my team. Always be straight with clients, even when the information can be uncomfortable. Nothing ever goes perfectly. It’s how you deal with it that makes a difference.
When I began my career at Cognizant, my boss made sure I got a lot of engagement and exposure and the ability to jump into things and make decisions. Now I work for Chell Smith, and she’s a good, strong advocate.
Likewise, I make sure I take time to advocate for others. It’s amazing what we can do when someone tells us we can get there. Everyone has a different path. There isn’t just one way.
Outside of work I’m a family person. I have the neighborhood house that all the kids feel comfortable coming over to. My family and I are always out walking or biking through the neighborhood.
It was standing-room-only at our Women Empowered Client Dinner in Boston held in May 2018. Local professionals interacted with the Cognizant team, led by Meera Ramachandran, SVP and Managing Partner in Cognizant’s Insurance Practice. The event featured consultant and author Kate Sweetman, a former Harvard Business Review editor, who discussed how leaders can see and seize opportunities and make a difference to help their organizations thrive in the midst of disruption.
Our San Francisco team hosted a Women Empowered Afternoon Forum in June 2018 where local business leaders were encouraged to meet and network. The keynote was given by Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder, chairwoman and CEO of Care.com, who spoke on finding your passion. We also heard from Susan Mernit, who told her story of founding Hack the Hood, and panelists from Twitter and BlueOwl on supporting women in their careers.
Cognizant’s United Kingdom & Ireland region hosted Olympic Gold medalist Kate Richardson-Walsh as the featured speaker at the February 2018 Women Empowered Executive Client Dinner in London. Kate inspired us all through her stories of leadership, teamwork and what it took to win gold in field hockey in the 2016 Olympics.
Our Toronto team hosted a Women Empowered Executive Client Dinner in Toronto in November 2018. Leading female professionals and clients from the Toronto area connected with the Cognizant team, led by our CFO Karen McLoughlin. Dr. Wendy Cukier, Professor of Information Technology Management & Founder of the Diversity Institute at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, presented findings on how innovation drives inclusion.
Women Empowered recently hosted an Executive Client Dinner in Los Angeles. The evening began with a cocktail reception, then our host, Chell Smith, SVP Consulting, welcomed the group. Author Kate Sweetman shared strategies for reinvention that are relevant during times of disruption. Chell’s blog post on Digitally Cognizant highlights key takeaways from Kate's presentation. From Left: Carol Pasmore (Cognizant), Kate Sweetman (speaker), Chell Smith (Cognizant), Jennifer Green Godette (Cognizant), Michael Chavez (Duke Corporate Education), Christine Robers (Duke Corporate Education).
The WE Book Club recently read Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women by W. Brad Johnson, Ph.D., and David Smith, Ph.D. Strong mentoring relationships have the capacity to transform individuals and entire organizations. But evidence consistently shows that women face more barriers in securing mentorships than men and reap a narrower range of benefits. Male colleagues were encouraged to join women as we discussed this straightforward, no-nonsense manual that explains how men can mentor women deliberately and effectively.
The Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency has recognized Cognizant as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality for 2018. The government citation is designed to promote companies that have actively committed to achieving gender equality in Australian workplaces. Criteria for selection include setting targets for improving gender equality and other outcomes, such as leadership support, learning and development, gender remuneration gaps and flexible work arrangements to support family responsibilities.
WE Dallas recently welcomed Chell Smith, SVP Consulting, to Dallas’s new Regional Delivery Center for a luncheon. Shameka Young, Dallas WE Advisor and VP Communications & Media Consulting, interviewed Chell about the consulting practice, leadership and her career progression. Chell shared great stories and insights on managing your career and the different environments she experienced starting out as a women in the technology industry years ago versus today.
Cognizant is continuing its sponsorship of MAKERS, an organization dedicated to telling the stories of today's trailblazing women to inspire the changeMAKERS of tomorrow. At the 2019 MAKERS conference, Cognizant pledged to employ at least 100,000 women around the world by 2020.
Cognizant attendees at the MAKERS conference included Donna Tuths, member of the MAKERS board of directors and SVP and Global Lead, Cognizant Interactive, and MAKERS’ awardees Meera Krishnamurthy, SVP, Insurance; Paul Roehrig, VP, Cognizant Digital Business; Vibha Rustagi, CEO, itaas, a Cognizant Company; and Chell Smith, SVP, Cognizant Consulting.READ MORE
At Cognizant, we believe that our differences should be celebrated and that an inclusive culture inspires creativity and innovation. Embrace attracts, supports, respects and retains talented lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender professionals. Embrace is committed to creating an environment where all people can develop and grow to their full potential.
Driven by Cognizant’s strong support of and commitment to veterans, the Cognizant Veterans Network (CVN) supports, develops and promotes the unmatched skills and experiences that veterans bring to Cognizant. The CVN members are ambassadors to Cognizant’s recruiting process, assisting in attracting and retaining key talent, and creating a community of peers who understand the transition to the private sector and support veterans joining Cognizant.
This group is dedicated to the interests of Cognizant employees who identify as Black, African, African-American, Latino or Hispanic. The group fosters the success of its members through programming and initiatives that promote career development, mentoring, recruitment and retention, and community building.