Cognizant on Friday announced the retirement of its Chief People Officer (CPO) James Lennox and appointment of Becky Schmitt, currently senior vice president and CPO at Sam’s Club, a $59 billion division of Walmart, as its executive vice president (EVP) and CPO. Schmitt will join Cognizant on February 1, 2020.
In a message to the employees, Cognizant CEO Brian Humphries said that Lennox, who has been the CPO, EVP, and member of the Executive Committee, had informed him four months ago that he planned to retire from Cognizant at the end of this year, after 16 years with the company. Lennox also helped lead the search for his successor, he added.
"To succeed Jim, I am pleased to announce that we have hired Becky Schmitt as our new EVP and Chief People Officer. Becky joins the Executive Committee, reporting to me, and will be based in New York City. She brings 24 years of experience in developing talent and designing and delivering modern, market-leading HR strategies globally," he said.
This experience includes more than 20 years with Accenture, during which she held an HR role in North America, in near-shore and offshore technology delivery centres, and in India delivery centers. While in Bengaluru, her work ranged from developing technology talent, globalising the SAP practice, and building the global technology architecture capability. Prior to her time in India, she managed HR functions for Accenture’s Asia Pacific Communications and High Tech business.
Currently at Sam's Club, she oversees the employee experience and career development of 100,000 associates across nearly 600 locations. Prior to that, she was the CPO for Walmart’s US e-commerce and corporate functions. Lennox will continue in the position until she arrives. He will continue to serve as an advisor to her for a brief period to ensure a smooth transition.
The number of associates in Cognizant has grown 19-fold to 290,000 now, from 15,000 associates in 2004 when Lennox joined the company.
"In our people-intensive business, all the value we create for our clients comes from having the most skilled and engaged talent. As our CPO, Jim’s been deeply involved in leading all aspects of people management on a vast scale, whether building our recruitment engine to attract world-class, diverse talent, developing a future-ready workforce through continual reskilling and multi-skilling, or strengthening and expanding our leadership talent pool," said Humphries.