Cognizant Expands its Learning and Development Programs to Upskill Future-Ready Digital Capabilities and Sharpen Leadership Pipeline. Felix Weitzman, SVP and Chief HR Operations Officer, Cognizant provided an in-depth insight into Cognizant’s work.
1. How is Cognizant expanding its Learning and Development program?
At Cognizant, we put people first in everything we do, and we’re proud to offer more game-changing learning and development (L&D) opportunities to help our people stay the best , ready future talent and drive innovation for our clients.
We are expanding our L&D programs to grow talent in future digital capabilities and hone our leadership pipeline. We now have a robust catalog with thousands of learning resources. This year, we’ve added over 8000 new learning resources and 550 learning pathways in digital skills and supporting professional development. We have included 30 new hands-on virtual labs for our associates to practice hands-on assignments.
2. Can you name some key programs Cognizant is running as part of the company’s L&D and upskill agenda and share details about it?
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 a variety of training opportunities, digital leadership programs, custom leadership development initiatives and leadership transition programs to equip our associates for leadership roles.
To name a few: to help new associates successfully transition into their roles, our onboarding experience helps our talent engage effectively in a new environment, new roles and new relationships. For high-potential middle managers, we offer our [email protected] program designed exclusively in collaboration with Harvard Business Publishing. We also have a signature women in leadership initiative, Propel, to accelerate a diverse leadership pipeline.
3. Do you have an industry partner to develop these training programs and their curriculum?
Learning partnerships with world-leading technology organizations and educational institutions have always been part of our portfolio, and we deepen these relationships to provide associates with further development, growth, 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 a digital badge that they are encouraged to share with their networks and clients.
4. What has been the impact of these initiatives?
From on-campus hiring training for entry-level workers to providing competency assurance programs for professional practitioners, our skilling ecosystem offers growth for associates across all level. Developing new digital skills and leadership capabilities supports career growth, internal talent movement, and bringing seasoned Cognizant associates into new projects. In the past year alone, we’ve tripled job promotions (2021 vs 2020) and facilitated thousands of job transitions to higher roles for our associates in 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 increase 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 used for these training programs?
Along with our autonomous learning resources, we take a human-centered design approach to learning and blend the right proportions of technology and human interaction to help our associates unlock their full potential. We have invested heavily in the technology ecosystem to deliver immersive learning experiences.
These include improvements to learning content (type, access, curation and delivery), assessments, teaching and learning, collaboration, resources, management platforms, and the overall learning experience. . It also includes cloud labs and simulations, AI/ML to personalize learning recommendations and at scale. We are increasingly focusing on gamified learning, especially among 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 provide associates with on-demand, hands-on learning, and MyLearningStudio, an in-house learning experience platform. We’ve reached 5.8 million views across 190,000+ learning resources on 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 who work to analyze client needs and technology trends, and use aspirational, innovative design to customize and curate high-demand which is an L&D offering.
All training programs have fixed learning objectives and expected performance outcomes. However, there are different learning methods that we use to meet different preferences or needs.
For example, some fellows may prefer self-paced learning structured as micro-modules that can be used on the go, while others may prefer to complete the program through an instructor-led class. within the allotted eight hours. Such flexibility is baked into the design of the program, while still ensuring the skills are acquired.
If necessary, we also fit the module into an existing training program based on the student’s characteristics. Examples are bridge or refresher programs for associates returning after a long vacation or for lateral hires.
7. Can you share details and impact of the company’s [email protected] program?
At Cognizant, we fast-track high-performing, high-potential leaders through personalized assessments, executive coaching, and executive education. Our [email protected] program for high-potential middle managers is 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 [email protected]
8. Is the hybrid work environment a challenge to train employees? If yes, how do you counter it?
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 effective and engaging learning regardless of work location, we have evolved elements of our talent development programs, such as enabling remote proctoring of assessments, establishing a cloud-based lab 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, solicit feedback, engage of interaction, quick knowledge review, and so on.