From innovative tech to top-tier clients: what it’s like working for Cognizant in Hong Kong
Will Pau, a senior consultant at Cognizant in Hong Kong, says he has barely had an uninteresting or uneventful day on the job since he joined the global IT services firm more than five years ago.
“That’s because of the top-tier clients I work with, and the satisfaction that comes from helping them improve the efficiency of their IT systems and their businesses,” says Will, who operates both as a business analyst (BA) and a project manager (PM). He spends most of his time in the offices of Cognizant’s financial services clients in Hong Kong. “I like being able to clearly see how my efforts each day are making a tangible difference to our clients,” he adds.
Working on innovative technology projects also keeps Will inspired. He has recently been advising an up and coming virtual bank. “Because virtual banking is entirely new in Hong Kong, neither the client nor myself have experienced anything like this before. We’re working together to build a startup end-to-end and from scratch, which is incredibly exciting,” says Will. “We have to work out what differentiates us from other banks.”
As a project manager, Will is responsible for the health of the project. From tracking status updates to pointing out any potential bottlenecks within the project’s development, he makes sense of what needs to be done in the next steps in a project, based on the progress and pace of the project development. This allows him to advise and guide the team to taking the appropriate actions for optimal progress. In his business analyst role, he “acts as a bridge” between Cognizant and its clients. “I work closely with clients, who tell me what they need from a project, and we talk in the language of business,” he explains. “Then I translate these business requirements into technical language for our design team at Cognizant.”
About 80% of Will’s time is focused on clients and the rest on working with his Cognizant teammates. “You have to really like dealing with clients to work as a BA or PM here – communication is key,” adds Will. “Your success ultimately depends on how you interact with people, including the senior management of your clients.”
This sentiment is shared by Mohamed Sirajudeen, a colleague of Will’s at Cognizant in Hong Kong. Mohamed works as an onsite technology lead, responsible for the design of enterprise applications. “For you to grow at Cognizant as a developer, you must thrive on customer interaction and be externally focused. Our developers work at clients’ offices and cooperate closely with them,” says Mohamed, adding that during the Covid-19 outbreak, Cognizant managed to quickly adapt its working practices in line with new government guidance because of how well the company knew what clients needed. Teams saw minimal disruptions in project workflows and were able to keep up with timelines and project milestones.
Mohamed, who joined Cognizant about nine years ago as a fresh graduate, works on enhancing existing solutions and also on building new solutions, in which Cognizant leads the overall design and development of enterprise applications. Cognizant works with an array of strategic partners, the biggest names in the industry. “That’s a great part of the job – being onsite means I learn a lot more about the client’s business, and I also understand how different products from various industry leaders are integrated into our client’s systems,” he says.
Another advantage of working with Cognizant is that the company has gained the trust of many clients from a variety of industries, which gives Cognizant employees an opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge to a broad range of client requirements. Every project is “unique” and comes with its own challenges, says Mohamed, who initially worked on a project with a multinational consumer goods company before moving to work with a large bank about five years ago. “It was interesting to switch as I had the opportunity to start learning about banking systems. A small change to an application in banking can make a big impact, so all progress needs to be actively validated and tracked,” he adds.
No matter the industry, Cognizant’s overall goal in any project is to support its customers. “That’s why I like to be onsite as a developer,” says Mohamed. “If technical issues arise or clients have any queries, I’m right there to resolve them immediately.”
At the heart of Cognizant’s work, Will explains, is the dedication to enabling clients to achieve their business goals. “To fulfil client demands, it’s important to get up to speed quickly and have good time management skills,” he says. “You need to understand exactly what a client wants from the outset of a project, and only then can you consider what solution is best.”
If you’re interested in working for Cognizant, Will says you also need “a flexible mindset to succeed in working with different types of clients and projects”. “Cognizant has a great network of clients across domains, including financial services. You might work with a luxury goods company and then want to move to a project at a bank, for example, similar to what Mohamed here has done,” says Will.
Career mobility at Cognizant is not limited to industries – the firm also has opportunities for its employees to relocate internationally. Mohamed is a case in point: he started his career in India, before moving to Shenzhen in China in 2014, and then to Hong Kong in 2018. “We are a global company and my career growth has been accelerated by living and working in different markets. A dedicated team within HR helped me get up to speed quickly in my new locations,” adds Mohamed.
Cognizant encourages its employees to think long-term about their careers. When Mohamed speaks with new joiners in his team, he advises them to set goals for the next 5 or even 10 years. “If you come on board as a developer, do you want to stay on that career path, or do you ultimately see yourself as an architect or a business analyst? If you want to change, what certificates and training do you need? Cognizant’s culture encourages people to take control of their careers and talk to their managers about their objectives, because there is no ‘set path’ other than the one you choose for yourself,” says Mohamed.
Both Mohamed and Will encourage new teammates to take advantage of Cognizant Academy, the firm’s in-house learning and development organization, which helps equip staff with the hard and soft skills required to take careers to the next level. Mohamed says Cognizant has always been “very supportive” of his own learning, and he recently upskilled in Angular, an open-source web application framework, via Cognizant Academy. Will says alongside technical courses, he has also taken a helpful ‘first time manager’ program focused on networking and communication skills.
As well as skills training, Cognizant runs various wellness and teambuilding events – including yoga classes and hiking for all employees. “These are great as you get to know people in your practice and in other departments, even if you’re currently working on different client projects. You can also share work experiences and gain new insights from them,” adds Will.
Will also says he enjoys a good work-life balance at Cognizant. “Our managers are supportive and favor quality over quantity,” says Will, adding that Cognizant provides excellent medical benefits in Hong Kong.
One of the best aspects of Mohamed’s job at Cognizant is the great recognition that his work receives from both his employer and his clients. “This degree of recognition is a great motivator,” he says. “It inspires me, even after several years of working here, to learn new technologies and soft skills that will advance my career and ensure I can deliver great service to clients.” It is clear that Cognizant places significant focus on growing digital businesses, and on the people behind them.