Advocate for equality
“I’m able to do things within
this role that I’m passionate
about personally as well as
As a field marketer, I see awareness of diversity issues as an important part of my work. We’ve created a lot of programming for Diversity & Inclusion summits with our Women Empowered team, and we’ve worked hard to reach out and include decision-makers at our clients. The energy we get from clients at these events has been great. It’s an immediate connect.
From a personal point of view, I was raised by a single mom who instilled in our family that life changes, that girls should have their own careers and money, and that they should own their own identities. My mom taught us that you can have a career and raise a family. That was a game-changer for me.
Now, with four kids of my own—including three girls—I’ve been involved in the Title 9 effort in our school district. Facility management for girls and boys is totally different. I’ve become passionate about equal opportunity in sports, and that’s really empowered my kids. While in college, my son and one of my daughters have become strong advocates for diversity and inclusion among student athletes.
Awareness is a huge component of D&I. I’m proud that within Cognizant I’ve been able to influence our business unit’s support of D&I and elevate awareness of issues that are important to us and our clients.
In June 2019, Cathy completed Propel, Cognizant’s new leadership development program for women.
She received the 2019 North Star Advocate Award from the Greater Texas chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications.
Putting people at the center
“I’ve taken an
unconventional path to get
here, and my background
helps me connect the dots
in our work.”
Believe it or not, my undergraduate degree is in physical therapy. My clinical rotation included administration, and the area of health records and claims caught my interest, so I switched out of PT and went for a master’s degree in healthcare administration.
I’m a program manager leading digital transformation initiatives for a pharmaceutical client. I’ve taken an unconventional path to get here, and my background helps me connect the dots in our work: The more we know about the people using our systems, the better we can create solutions that drive value. The best part of my job? I feel good about the level of responsibility that’s been given to me and about our team’s contributions to making patients’ lives better.
Women’s workplace issues have always mattered to me. As women, we sometimes hold ourselves back. It’s important for us to come out and break free and be able to perform our best. I do a lot of work with the Women Empowered initiative. Here in Chicago, we surveyed our colleagues and have hosted different events based on the results, including yoga and spirituality sessions, happy hours and annual events with women leaders.
Giving back outside the workspace also matters. Getting to know each other makes such a big difference. Cognizant Outreach lets us get together to volunteer in different ways: making meals for the homeless, painting schools. We encourage employees to make volunteering a family affair by bringing their spouses and kids. It’s so positive. I see a lot of smiling faces. It’s one Cognizant.
Supriya received the 2018 Outstanding Global Volunteer award from Cognizant’s Global Outreach program.
Connecting people, building community
“Bottom line, what I feel most proud of
at Cognizant is my ability to influence
the organization and drive results.”
I was active duty Air Force for four years, and it was a significant experience for me. It helped me better understand how teams work, and I found a level of acceptance I had never experienced before. Now, a big part of my job is bringing that same feeling of community to Cognizant.
I have multiple roles within HR: I’m the HR Lead for the Regional Digital Hubs and oversee how the company engages with talent. For the U.S., I also lead Onboarding and Campus Recruiting.
Each role has the same takeaway. It’s about building community by connecting people and helping them understand their role in the company. It’s about helping employees discover how they can make an impact.
I also lead our Affirmative Action program and am actively engaged with our Business Resource Groups. I’ve been with Cognizant for 10 years and can see these groups are having a positive impact.
What’s most meaningful for me is to engage with employees. New talent and current talent—that’s what drives me. My goal is to empower people, helping facilitate their communication with each other and ultimately enabling their growth within the company.
Bottom line, what I feel most proud of at Cognizant is my ability to influence the organization and drive results. What I love about this company is the commitment and passion of the employees, and the fact that people are mutually supportive of each other.
What do I do for fun? I love working on my cars, and I spend as much time as I can outdoors. I live in San Marcos, Texas, but I was born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico. I have a house in upstate New York with two acres of land, a beehive and a vegetable garden. For me, that’s therapy.
Cool technologies, new horizons
“Curiosity drives my work.”
I jumped at the chance to join the blockchain team. A colleague had told me about the work that the team was doing, and the idea of being at the forefront of this new technology sounded fascinating. When the opportunity came up, I went for it.
It’s an exciting time for blockchain. The technology is maturing quickly, as is our clients understanding of what it can do for them.
The biggest change I’ve seen since I joined the team two years ago: The industry is moving from education and experimentation to real-world production solutions. It’s exciting to find likeminded collaborators in our clients, who are as passionate about this technology as we are. Together, we can envision the art of the possible, cutting through the hype and bringing cutting-edge ideas to life.
The best part of my job is that as the technology evolves, there is constantly more for me to learn and appreciate. And I get to pass that knowledge along to our clients, helping them navigate the complexities of their blockchain journey.
The same curiosity that drives my work applies to my personal life. I like to travel and explore new places. I love to learn about new cultures, especially through local food. Japan is amazing and delicious. Croatia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Next, I’m going on a road trip through Portugal.
An ally for diversity
“Work is about what an employer
brings to our personal lives, and affinity
groups help bring people together.
They build a sense of community.”
My main role at Cognizant is partnering with clients to better understand their needs and then relating that to the technology folks. I’m a translator, so to speak. But I’m also active in recruiting. In the fall and spring, I often fly once or twice a week to attend campus hiring events, and diversity and inclusion is something students want to hear about.
I actively promote our African American and Latinx Group activities, because our jobs aren’t just about technologies and clients. Work is also about what an employer brings to our personal lives, and affinity groups help bring people together. They build a sense of community.
That community is what drew me to Cognizant. When I was in graduate school at Louisiana State University, my campus interview with Cognizant ran over by half an hour. I was sold on the mixing of high levels of technology and applying them to real-world solutions.
Advisory consulting can be hard work. When I talk to university students on the edge of starting their careers and they ask what I do, it helps me appreciate what I have. In those moments you’re brought back to where you were in college and you think, “I really want that job!”
Shaping the future of work
“There’s inherent tension at the intersection of
technology and humanity. I’ve found that
tension to be where the opportunity lies.”
There are few instances in which one has a chance to shape the future. Fewer still are the companies that give their employees space and resources for such endeavors. At the Center for the Future of Work, my role is similar to that of an analyst—examining industry trends, generating thought leadership and helping clients implement new ideas and strategies.
Through my work I get to inspire and inform business leaders, policy writers and any other citizens with the desire to actively shape our future at the intersection of technology and humanity. There is inherent tension at that intersection, and the tension is where opportunity for innovation lies.
I started my career in digital strategy, while moonlighting as a radio DJ in Atlanta. Given that the city is such a major media market and hotbed for hip hop, I had a significant platform at a young age. Having such a prominent platform taught me the importance of rigorous preparation and fully engaging my audience. That experience shaped how I approach the work I do now as a consultant and how I present ideas to my new audience in boardrooms and on conference calls.
Shortly after joining Cognizant, I cofounded our African American & Latinx Business Resource Group (AALG) with an eye on the future. This group helps cultivate the relationships that make us all better consultants. Our clients are increasingly diverse and it’s critical that we have people who look like them and have lived lives like them. AALG is also an opportunity for me to give back, to make sure under-represented minorities in tech find their own voices.
Forging a different path
“It’s been a long and winding road to
where I am now. My work today in
diversity and inclusion is the payoff.”
Two years ago, I took the lead marketing role for our Women Empowered initiative. Now, as part of the marketing team for diversity and inclusion, I love the fact that my role has broadened. Being a woman, being African American, I now have the opportunity to help raise the profiles of other groups within Cognizant.
I’ve taken a nontraditional route to get here. When my career in architecture turned out to be more about construction than design, I took inspiration from my mom: A year after she went back to school to get her MBA, I did the same. But while my B-school classmates focused on finance and economics, I studied marketing. I started with software marketing, completed a special project with the Dallas Museum of Art, and then ended up at Cognizant, where I marketed IT and consulting services to the retail, consumer goods, and travel and hospitality industries before transitioning to Women Empowered and then to D&I.
My love of travel has also helped to shape me. When I was an undergrad at the University of Virginia, I did a semester abroad in Ghana. Experiencing Ghana definitely changed me. It’s a totally different, non-Western culture that opened my eyes to different people, foods, experiences and ideas. It also gave me the travel bug. I spent a semester in Paris during graduate school, and last year I traveled to Peru with family—hopefully passing the travel bug onto my son as he experienced new cultures.
In many ways, it’s been a long and winding road to where I am now, but my work today in diversity and inclusion is the payoff.
Builder of bridges
“We all need to be vigilant and care
about each other. There are always
others we should put our hand out to.”
It’s probably no surprise that after attending a conservative, 500-year-old high school (think Downton Abbey), I blossomed when I was let loose at university. I spent a lot of time in politics and drama. Exploring different ideas. Oxford was a very supportive environment. It gave me a chance to find my moral compass and explore what was important to me. Queer theory. The role of LBGT in society. It helped me understand who I am.
I started my law career at a traditional firm. I made a lot of sacrifices in terms of hiding who I was and my sexuality. A big white-shoe law firm wasn’t the place to talk about that. I had gone from being a campus activist to putting myself into a suit, literally and metaphorically.
When I interviewed with Cognizant associates 11 years ago, there was such a human side to the people I met. We do things by consensus here, and we believe in each other. It’s about doing the job well and doing it with integrity. That message continues to be present.
I’m grateful the world has moved on in many ways. But it’s important to not be complacent regarding social injustice. It’s important we remember things can change very quickly. We all need to be vigilant and care about each other. There are always others we should put our hand out to.
Leader and veteran
“I’m interested in coaching and
mentoring and fixing the obstacles
that create the problems we’re
trying to solve.”
I proudly served four years in the Air Force as an air traffic controller. It’s one of the most stressful jobs imaginable. In addition to being responsible for billion-dollar aircraft, you have the responsibility for a lot of lives in your hands. After I left the military and went to college, my first entry-level job in the communications industry was an outside plant technician for Pacific Bell. I installed a variety of communication services in customer’s homes and businesses.
Different experiences, but those early days in my career are invaluable to me as a leader: They help me to understand what all levels of an organization go through. They’ve given me the compassion to make sure we run effectively and that we all share the same aspirations.
Here at Cognizant, I work on some of the largest accounts for our Communications practice. My job is about partnering with clients to constantly drive innovative ideas, provide leadership and work with people on the internal side.
As part of my work, I’m interested in coaching, mentoring and fixing the obstacles that create the problems we’re trying to solve. I typically take on high-stress jobs. But I focus on balance. I’m a fundamental believer in getting the right processes in place and the right people to execute. When that works, you have harmony.
My work with our Veterans Program brings me full circle. It’s important to me to help Cognizant better understand the nuances of hiring veterans. We bring discipline and commitment to our work that’s as valuable as practical experience.
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. In particular, I’m drawn to the problem-solving aspect of product marketing. I love the thought and rigor involved in taking a product to market.
At Cognizant Accelerator, I help create new business models for the company as part of our corporate innovation efforts. That includes incubating new practices and internal startups, everything from product-market fit to positioning and messaging. We collaborate closely with our business units to identify good ideas and ensure they have the executive support and resources they need to grow.
New ideas are the heart of my work. I got an MBA from Harvard, then returned to the Silicon Valley startup scene, just as the market crashed. After Cisco acquired the startup I was working for, I led product marketing at various emerging technologies within Cisco, including its video content and IoT business units.
My focus at Cognizant draws from that experience: We're exploring ideas for new business models made possible by digital technologies such as blockchain, AI and IoT. My managers emphasize impact over activity and give me the autonomy I want to do the work and to make the changes needed to forward our agenda. I’ve also been able to take advantage of training, such as an executive speaker class, which has helped me develop some of the soft skills that are so necessary to be effective in a large company.
When I’m not working, my husband and our two young boys like to jam on instruments: I’m figuring out how to fiddle. I’m also learning ballet, which feels like a more painful form of yoga. I regularly hike the trails of an urban forest reserve behind my house. It’s one of the largest in the country—and yet another reason that advisor was right about going west.
Irene recently took on the new role of Vice President of Corporate Marketing focused on Mergers and Acquisitions.
— Brian Humphries, Chief Executive Officer
Organizations with a diverse workforce and an inclusive work environment are better prepared to meet the complex demands of today’s dynamically changing, digitally-driven business world. By challenging existing conventions and practices, your company can find innovative ways to enrich collaboration, heighten performance, and fuel profitable growth.READ MORE
As we look to tackle the thorny human issues ahead, we recognize that diversity and inclusion (D&I) remain chief among them. For our e-book we’ve assembled some of Cognizant’s keenest minds to share their thoughts on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the future of work from a variety of perspectives.READ MORE
Last fall, we launched a discussion on inclusion—beyond gender—at our first-ever inclusion event in New York. Co-hosted by Cognizant Women Empowered (WE) and the Center for the Future of Work (CFoW), the immensely successful event opened with Bonnie St. John, who spoke on cracking the code on inclusion. St. John is a Fortune 500 business consultant, Rhodes Scholar, former White House official, paralympic ski medalist and best-selling author.
Panels and TED-style talks covered topics such as the future of work, reskilling and human insights in tech and AI. The event concluded with an interview with Tiffany Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist for Salesforce and former Gartner analyst. All attendees received Making Room: Reflections on Diversity & Inclusion in the Future of Work, a book of essays on diversity and inclusion jointly published by the CFoW and WE.WATCH VIDEO
Pride season is underway, and Cognizant has been wearing its rainbow colors at celebrations here in the U.S. in Tampa, Dallas and Des Moines. We’ve also been in Dublin, Ireland. Come visit our booth at the annual NEPA Pride: March to the Park in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, July 13. We’ll be celebrating the LGBT+ community all day in Kirby Park. See you there.JOIN US
We’re continuing our 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 conference included 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