4 APRIL 2016 Consulting®
ShortTakes Trends, Views and Analysis
Mark Livingston on the firm’s unique and integrated approach to client delivery
Mark Livingston is ExecutiveVice President
and Global Head of Cognizant Business
Consulting (CBC). In this role, Livingston
is responsible for the overall strategy and
running of Cognizant’s Consulting practice
which consists of some 5,500 consultants
worldwide. Livingston joined Cognizant
in 2008, and has since been instrumental
in leading the firm’s success, and taking
CBC to the next level. Consulting caught
up with Livingston recently to discuss the
business and its integrated approach.
Consulting: I know you’ve been very busy
since you came to Cognizant in 2008.
Where is the CBC business is right now?
Livingston: When I came here from A.T.
Kearney in November 2008, I remember
I did a meet and greet with a bunch of in-
dustry analysts, and I happened to mention
the word ‘strategy’ and one of those indus-
try analysts jumped all over me and said:
‘If you try to build a McKinsey style con-
sultancy at Cognizant, you’re going to fail
miserably…’ Well, I was a little shocked,
but he knew my background and asked
me about my biggest challenges. I talked
about bill rates and talent acquisition and
he said to me: ‘Those aren’t your challeng-
es because those things are solvable. Your
biggest challenge is this: If you can’t figure
out how to team and collaborate with those
client partners and jointly go to market
with them, you’re not going to be success-
ful. You’re going to be stuck on the out-
side looking in…’ At that moment, I had
a light go off in my head. He was right. I
came from A. T. Kearney and it was owned
by EDS, but we never fully integrated the
businesses. At that moment I began to
understand that the key to my success at
Cognizant was integration, alignment and
collaboration with the client partners.
Consulting: That’s no easy task...
Livingston: No, it isn’t, but I think what
we’re doing here is unique and different,
and I think most of the IT firms that have
tried to build consulting businesses have
failed, quite frankly. When I came here I
was conscious of how other IT companies
also try to sell consulting but often don’t
let their best people do their jobs. They pull
them off consulting over to bigger revenue
opportunities. They never fully integrated
the business. What they end up doing stops
them from selling a $10 million consulting
engagement because they need them to start
selling a $50 million BPO deal.
Consulting: So, how do you ensure that
doesn’t happen at Cognizant?
Livingston: Well, I was very careful to say
that we’re focusing only on consulting.
I was very conscious not to let me or my
people get pulled over to the dark side, if
you will. I would say ‘no’ way more than I
would say ‘yes’ to the rest of the company.
Then I realized that the market’s changing,
the world is changing and the clients are
changing. A few years ago, we reorganized
to recognize that reality. I integrated the
business, but still separately run consulting.
Our key to success was that integration into
the rest of the company. Clients don’t want
just advice, they also want us to implement
solutions and create change. That’s our