How Cognizant is Preparing The Next Generation Of Tech Professionals For Future-Ready Digital Capabilities?

Cognizant is expanding its Learning and Development Programs to Upskill Talent in Future-Ready Digital Capabilities and Hone Leadership Pipeline. Felix Weitzman, SVP and Chief HR Operations Officer, Cognizant gave a deep-insight into Cognizant’s working.

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1. How is Cognizant expanding its Learning and Development program?    

At Cognizant, we put people first in everything that we do, and we’re proud to offer even more game-changing learning and development (L&D) opportunities to help our people remain among the finest, future-ready talent and drive innovation for our clients. 

We are expanding our L&D programs to upskill talent in future-ready digital capabilities and hone our leadership pipeline. We already have a robust catalogue with tens of thousands of learning resources. This year, we have added over 8000 new learning resources and 550 learning paths across digital skills and supporting professional development. We have incorporated 30 new hands-on virtual labs for our associates to practice hands-on assignments.

2. Can you name a few key programs that Cognizant has been running as part of the company’s L&D and upskill agenda and share details on the same? 

The competitive advantage we bring to our clients has always been rooted in the high value we place on continuous learning. Our L&D programs include various training opportunities, digital leadership programs, custom leadership development initiatives and leadership transition programs to equip our associates take on leadership roles. 

To name a few: to help new associates transition successfully into their roles, our onboarding experience helps our talent engage effectively in a new environment, new role and new relationships. For high-potential middle managers, we offer our LEAD@Cognizant program which has been exclusively designed in partnership with Harvard Business Publishing. We also have our signature women in leadership initiative, Propel, to accelerate a diverse leadership pipeline.

3. Do you have any industry partner to develop these training programs and their curriculum?

Learning partnerships with world-leading technology organizations and educational institutions have always been a part of our portfolio, and we are deepening these relationships to provide associates with additional growth, development, and leadership opportunities. These include programs we offer in conjunction with Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP and ServiceNow, and leading global educational institutions such as Harvard Business Publishing, Duke University, INSEAD, Chicago Business School, Indian School of Business.

Upon completion of a partner training program, associates receive completion certifications and digital badges they are encouraged to share with their networks and clients.

4. What has been the impact of these initiatives?

From campus hire training for entry-level workforce to providing capability assurance programs for professional practitioners, our skilling ecosystem offers growth for associates at all levels. Building new digital skills and leadership capability supports career growth, internal talent movement, and brings seasoned Cognizant associates to new projects. Over the past year alone, we have tripled the job promotions (2021 vs 2020) and facilitated tens of thousands of job moves to more elevated roles for our associates across 40 countries.

In 2021 alone, Cognizant trained over 150,000 associates in digital skills such as Cloud, AI, ML, IoT, analytics and automation. We expect to up the number of associates upskilled this year through new learning opportunities — from leadership training and technical certifications to expertise in advanced digital technologies. 

Our approach to talent development is a key differentiator and has been recognized by leading L&D organizations (40 awards from Brandon Hall and four Excellence in Practice awards from ATD).

5. What are the tools leveraged for these training programs?

Alongside our autonomous learning resources, we take a human-centric design approach to learning and blend the right proportion of technology and human interaction to help our associates unlock their full potential. We have significantly invested in the technology ecosystem to deliver immersive learning experiences. 

This includes enhancements to learning content (type, access, curation and delivery), assessments, mentoring and coaching, collaboration, resources, governance platforms, and the overall learning experience. This also includes cloud labs and simulations, AI/ML to personalize learning recommendations and at scale. We are focusing increasingly on gamified learning, especially in our first line leaders. Of course, our learning experience is seamless and easily accessible anywhere, anytime for our associates. 

In 2021, for example, we launched a cloud lab to give associates on-demand, hands-on learning, and MyLearningStudio, an in-house learning experience platform. We reached 5.8 million views across 190,000+ learning resources across these platforms, and counting. 

6. Are these training programs tailored for different roles and geographies? If yes, how?

We have dedicated L&D professionals across geographies working to evaluate client needs and technology trends, and use forward-looking, innovative design to customize and curate high-demand L&D offerings.

All training programs have fixed learning objectives and expected performance outcomes. However, there are various learning methodologies we use to cater to different preferences or needs. 

For example, some associates may prefer self-paced learning structured as micro-modules which can be leveraged while traveling, while others may prefer complete the program via an instructor-led class over a dedicated eight hours. Such flexibility is baked into the program design, while still ensuring skills are acquired.

As needed, we also bolt module onto an existing training program based on learner characteristics. Examples are bridge or refresher programs for associates returning after a long leave or for lateral hires.

7. Can you share details and impact of the company’s LEAD@Cognizant program?

At Cognizant, we fast-track high-performing and high-potential leaders through personalized assessments, executive coaching, and executive education. Our LEAD@Cognizant program for high-potential middle managers has been exclusively designed in partnership with Harvard Business Publishing to enable leaders to lead and thrive in the digital economy. 

The 4.5-month, three-module curriculum aligns with our leadership themes: Lead Boldly, Partner Powerfully, and Inspire Performance. Our people participate in sessions with Harvard faculty and Cognizant business leaders, simulations, and a Leadership Capstone Challenge. Today, more than 600 leaders have participated in LEAD@Cognizant. 

8. Is hybrid work environment a challenge to train/upskill employees? If yes, how are you countering that?

At Cognizant, we believe the future of work is about providing the flexibility of working from wherever our associates work best. A hybrid model defines our approach to work.

To ensure we provide an effective and engaging learning no matter the work location, we have evolved elements of our talent development programs, such as enabling remote proctoring of assessments, establishing cloud-based labs for hands-on labs and case study submissions, using video platforms to conduct interviews, and increasing the use of social tools like Yammer and Microsoft Teams to form groups, seek feedback, drive engagement, quick knowledge checks, and so on.


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