In Part I of our interview with Francisco D’Souza, President and CEO of Cognizant, we discussed the rampant growth Cognizant has experienced, the global economic environment as we emerge from the Recession, and Frank’s point of view on the Cloud and the sourcing industry.
Now, in Part II, we get a bit more personal about what makes Frank tick…
HfS Research: Frank – tell us a bit about yourself and your upbringing and how you ended up leading a $4.6 billion global corporation? Did you imagine you’d wind up doing something like this?
Francisco D’Souza: After finishing my graduate work at Carnegie Mellon University, I took a job as a management associate with Dun & Bradstreet. Early on, I was presented with an opportunity to work with a team to build D&B’s first IT captive in India. I jumped at the opportunity. In 1994, that captive was spun off in to Cognizant and the rest, as they say, is history. I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that I never imagined running a $4.6 billion business! On the contrary, I just focused on doing things along the way that I enjoyed and which provided me opportunities to grow and learn. The rest just happened… I also have to say that we have the best team in the industry at Cognizant and my achievements are a reflection of their work; it was by no means an individual effort.
HfS Research: If you had your time again, would you choose the same path? If you weren’t a techno-preneur what would you choose to be doing?
Francisco D’Souza: I am incredibly happy with where I am today and Cognizant’s trajectory for the future; it is impossible to look back and wish I had taken a different path.
But, if I had to do anything else in life I would have wanted to be an inventor. I am overwhelmed by the power new technologies have on people’s lives – the power to dramatically change people’s levels of productivity or their standard of living. To contribute to that would be incredible. Plus, I love to work with my hands. In my basement, I have a room that’s just for me. Even my wife and kids aren’t allowed in because it’s a mess. I have all sorts of things in there, like a whole collection of old brass telegraph keys that are anywhere from 50 to 150 years old. I love this period; the days of Morse, Marconi and Edison and the beginning of electronic communication.
HfS Research: And finally, being one of the youngest CEOs on the Nasdaq today, what advice do you have to many of us forging our careers in today’s services industry? Are the core traits of success today different than they were 5 years’ ago?
Francisco D’Souza: In my mind, the key to success is the same for anything you do – dedicate yourself to something you love and don’t be afraid to take risks. If it feels like work, or if you are not passionate about what you’re doing, you won’t have the energy to put in the time and effort needed to be successful.
HfS Research: Frank, thanks for your time today – we look forward to sharing this discussion with our readers.