Wipro, Mindtree hire senior HR executives from Cognizant

Wipro and Mindtree are hiring senior-most executives tasked with hiring and managing employees from the Nasdaq-listed IT company Cognizant .The report reveals that Cognizant’s Indian competitors Wipro and Mindtree have snapped up five Cognizant executives who were in charge of key functions such as HR in India, talent transformation, global talent acquisition, and entry-level workforce planning strategy.

Most IT companies, including Cognizant, have outlined plans to hire freshers and experienced professionals on a war footing, to keep up with the surging demand and soaring attrition. Rajiv Menon (Director-HR) and Anand Kabra (VP-Talent transformation) are soon expected to join Wipro to head its global recruitment and global workforce management, respectively. Suresh Bethavandu, who worked as the global head of talent transformation, joined Mindtree a few days ago to lead the HR department.

Sources reveal that Venkat Ramaseshan (AVP-Human Resources) and Ashok Ranjit Rajasekaran (early career hiring leader) have also joined Mindtree in senior roles in the talent and recruitment function. In Mindtree’s case, apart from its CEO Debashis Chatterjee, President Venu Lambu, and the 3 HR executives, its Talent acquisition head for Americas (Anitha Asrani) and its Talent acquisition head for Europe (Equbeer Bedi) are from Cognizant. A Wipro spokesperson said: “These individuals are not employees of Wipro. We have no further comments.”

Cognizant, in response to queries from media houses, shared a statement on how it continues to be a magnet for highly skilled talent. “We are investing more in the growth of our people than at any other time through upskilling, training, robust career growth, and promotions programs, with internal mobility being a critical part of our talent strategy. We have a strong internal talent acquisition ecosystem strengthened by the addition of hundreds of recruiters. We have deep collaboration with 150 campuses and added more than 200 campuses to give new graduates an opportunity to build a career with us.”

The statement further added: “In 2021, we launched a hiring blitz and as a result, have a record number of new hires. We are on track to onboard nearly 30,000 new associates this year and an additional 45,000 offers for next year. Additionally, we are hiring 100,000 experienced talent who are trained in all the key digital skills. We have strong leadership in place, including our 11 centers across India, and continue to ensure seamless delivery for our customers around the globe.”

Industry sources stated that many of the executives that are leaving Cognizant are old-timers. Source says,” When they all joined Cognizant, it was a $1 billion entity. They were the size of Mindtree and L&T Infotech. Now the organization has grown to reach $16.5 billion. The excitement of working in a smaller company and growing it to that size is different. This is why the majority of the accomplished leaders who have taken the company from $1 billion to $16 billion now essentially want to try that out again ”

Former Cognizant senior executives have now become the preferred choice of private equity firms and global IT/BPM services companies. In the past two years alone, eight companies, namely Mindtree, Firstsource, Hitachi Vantara, Zensar, Bristlecone, Collabera, Qualitest, and Virtusa – have handpicked ex-Cognizant leaders as their CEO’s.

While Cognizant said it has strong leadership for its 11 centers across India, a source told media houses that several center heads in India have quit in the last couple of years. “In Cognizant, some of the business unit leaders also double up as centre heads. These cities have tens of thousands of employees each, and the center head plays an important role in retaining talent locally. The center heads of, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, and Kerala have left,” the source said.

Cognizant is witnessing record attrition and Analysts said the elevated levels of attrition across levels will limit the firm’s ability to fulfill existing deals and go after new ones, especially in a market where the demand for outsourcing services is rising, as there exists an accelerated shift to digital post-Covid-19. A recent report by Kotak Institutional Equities published indicated that the company had lost market share to peers due to insourcing, with a ransomware attack also further impacting service delivery.

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