TiE New Jersey Chapter Honors Cognizant Co-founder and Former CEO Frank D’Souza
- Indian American entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals from the Tri-state area and beyond attended the annual gala held at a picturesque location.
Indian immigrants in the IT and tech sector are “among the brightest and the best,” and make the most of “the limited opportunity” available to them to jump up in the ranks, according to Frank D’Souza, co-founder and former CEO of Cognizant Technology Solution. “Indians learn to be resilient, battle endless obstacles, and make the most of what they have,” he said, adding that their commitment to education, learning and handwork is what sets them apart the most.
The Indian American entrepreneur was speaking at the annual gala of the New Jersey chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs or TiE at The Mansion at Natirar in Peapack and Gladstone, on Feb. 25. Currently, D’Souza is the co-founder and managing partner of Recognize, a U.S.-based private equity firm that will focus on a new generation of deep intellectual property-led tech services ventures.
TiE New Jersey honored D’Souza with its inaugural Excelsior Award for Lifetime Achievement and Contribution to Entrepreneurship. Before the award presentation, Suresh Kumar, professor and director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology, engaged in a conversation with D’Souza about his life, leadership and his vision for the future of tech in India.
Before the conversation and award presentation, Indian American entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals from the Tri-state area and beyond networked over cocktails and appetizers at the picturesque venue. D’Souza was seen mingling with the attendees as well as with members of TiE NJ Women, a recently established special interest group.
He told the gathering that his new venture capital firm Recognize focuses on areas that are tech-sensitive, including healthcare, tech-commerce and retail. He also discussed new tech innovations, including ChatGPT, as well as changes in work culture and the increase in remote working. He expressed optimism in India’s tech industry and predicted a tech revolution in India.
D’Souza co-founded Cognizant Technology Solutions, a global multinational corporation that provides IT services, including digital, technology, consulting, and operations services in 1994. He took over as CEO at the age of 38 in 2006 and was its longest-serving CEO. He stepped back from the CEO role in March 2019, when Brian Humphries took over but he stayed on the board as vice-chairman.
In addition to his tenure as CEO, he served as president from 2007 to 2012 and held a variety of senior management positions, including the chief operating officer. He was elected to Cognizant’s Board of Directors in January 2007 and served as vice chairman of the board from 2018 until 2020.
D’Souza told the gathering that he was responsible for promoting Cognizant’s values and client-first culture, ensuring the company’s sustainable growth and driving long-term shareholder value. During his 12 years as CEO, he oversaw a period of sustained growth, transformation, innovation and success.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, to an India Foreign Services diplomat in Kenya, he has traveled widely and lived in countries ranging from Panama to Hong Kong where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Macau. He also received an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University.
He is a director of General Electric, where he is a member of the Audit Committee and Management Development & Compensation Committees. He also serves on the Board of MongoDB, a software company that offers a modern general-purpose database platform where he’s a member of the Compensation and Nominating & Governance Committees.
In addition to corporate boards, he serves on the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Mellon University and as Co-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the New York Hall of Science. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum and served as the 2019 Chairman of the IT and Electronics Governors community at the Forum. Fortune magazine named Francisco a “Fortune Businessperson of the Year” for 2015 and 2017, highlighting his mission to prioritize services that help clients adapt and keep pace with the digital revolution.
The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), was founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley by a group of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals with roots in the Indus region. With a global reach and a local focus, the heart of TiE efforts lies in its five foundational programs, – Mentoring, Networking, Education, Funding, and Incubation. TiE’s ultimate goal is to foster entrepreneurship, creating wealth for both the entrepreneur and the local communities.