Country of origin: India
Year came to U.S.: 1990
Education: BA, University of East Asia;
MBA, Carnegie Mellon University
Business: Cognizant Technology Solutions (1994)
Headquarters: Teaneck, New Jersey
2020 revenue: $16.7 billion
Worldwide employment: 289,500
Ranked 185 in the 2021 Fortune 500
Francisco D’Souza studied in seven schools around the world in Panama, Zaire, New Delhi, New York, Trinidad, Hong Kong and Pittsburgh.
In just 20 years, he grew Cognizant from fewer than 200 employees and one client to nearly 1,200 active clients and more than $12 billion in revenues.
The son of an Indian Foreign Service Officer, D’Souza has traveled across the world. Early in his life, he spent a lot of time in Africa where his father served several stints in places like Kenya, Ethiopia and Zaire. He then followed his father to New York City, Trinidad, Hong Kong and Panama.
“My parents took a couple of key decisions early on in their lives. One was to take their kids (me and my three sisters) to wherever they traveled and to not leave us in a boarding school in India,” says D’Souza. “Second was to put us in the local schools wherever we traveled and not in international schools that diplomats normally prefer. It was imperative for us to pick up the local language and culture there, which was a big challenge.“
At age 18, D’Souza moved to Hong Kong to pursue undergraduate studies while gaining work experience. “I needed work and educational grounding before I applied to the American B-schools,” he adds. “So I taught myself programming, accepted contract work and later joined Indian Overseas Bank’s Hong Kong branch in the clerical grade.”
D’Souza came to the United States to earn an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University in 1990. There, he was recruited by Dun & Bradstreet. He spent two years with the company in the U.S. and Germany before heading to India to create a technology arm for Dun & Bradstreet from scratch. This division provided information technology services to clients around the globe.
Cognizant was spun out of Dun & Bradstreet in 1996 as an independent company and went public in 1998. D’Souza has been a core member of the Cognizant management team since its founding and has held the position of CEO since 2006.
Today, Cognizant provides information technology, consulting and business process outsourcing services to the world’s leading companies. With more than 75 delivery centers worldwide, Cognizant is ranked among the top performing and fastest growing companies in the world. In 2017, Cognizant added more than 6,000 U.S. workers and plans to grow its U.S. workforce by at least an additional 25,000 over the next five years. In 2019, D’Souza stepped down as CEO of Cognizant and became the executive vice chairman, intending to explore new opportunities in tech.
Beyond his own success, D’Souza is concerned about the future of the tech industry. In 2018, he invested $100 million in the Cognizant U.S. Foundation. “We want to create a digital workforce that can seek out employment opportunities across the many sectors of the economy that are being changed by digital technology today,” said D’Souza. “And some of those opportunities will be with Cognizant but many of them will be outside of Cognizant.”
Updated June 2021