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How tech advances inspire one company to upskill entire communities

(BPT) - How can you assess the impact of a technological advancement like AI, which has raced at lightning speed across every sector of the globe? While the opportunity of AI is still evolving, some companies see its importance as going beyond the business impact - focusing on how it affects people as well.

Leading global IT services provider Cognizant is one such company. To showcase how Cognizant aims to train and upskill employees and communities around the world during the era of AI, Tobi Young, Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Cognizant, answers questions about how her company strives to make a difference in today's fast-moving tech landscape.

What does Cognizant do?

Cognizant modernizes and manages the IT systems that keep the world running. As a Fortune 250 company employing approximately 350,000 people worldwide, we help enterprises across industries digitally transform their businesses to stay on the cutting edge. We work shoulder to shoulder with our clients to ensure the infrastructure supporting their mission critical enterprise systems is future-ready.

How does Cognizant's global reach affect its relationship with employees?

While Cognizant is a global company, we aim to serve people locally. It feels like a hometown company because of the way we treat the people who work with us. You can't be a company today that consumes the knowledge and energy of 350,000 people without investing in their hopes for the future of their communities. It's vital to be involved in those communities.

What impact is AI having on your clients, your employees and their communities?

Every client wants to know you can solve their problems, and they need to know you have the technology edge to use AI. For our employees, we focus on upskilling to grow their capabilities to use new technology. But we don't stop there. We're also going into communities and training people on how to join the technology workforce of the future. No matter where you live, you don't want to be left behind. You want to know what AI is, what it means, and how to use it. You want to know if you're going to have a job tomorrow, and that your kids will have a path forward.

How is AI affecting Cognizant's philanthropy?

Cognizant has awarded $70 million in philanthropic funds to our global communities since 2018. That investment will continue growing as we support community upskilling and training in the era of generative AI. It also reaffirms Cognizant's commitment through our recently launched Synapse initiative to drive economic mobility by preparing one million people for the future workforce. In support of this initiative, we're aiming to reach 300,000 people through grants, volunteerism, mentoring and education partnerships.

Through Synapse, we will continue partnering with nonprofits engaged in skilling and upskilling, from organizations teaching tech skills to girls and members of underserved communities to nonprofits helping veterans and military family members upskill for cutting-edge jobs and more. We look forward to continuing to improve lives through technology education and training.

How does Cognizant choose where to invest philanthropic dollars?

As generative AI takes off, upskilling is an increasingly crucial corporate investment - and it's not just something companies should invest in internally. Corporations are responsible for providing this opportunity to their communities.

That's why Cognizant focuses philanthropy on organizations that meet a few different parameters. One thing we look for is organizations that provide early access to learning and networking. Another important focus is those that create pathways for people entering or advancing careers in technology. Third, we look at organizations that inspire new ideas that push the technology industry forward in support of skilling. Through these focus areas, we work with these organizations to inspire, educate and prepare people to succeed in today's quickly evolving workforce.

Additionally, our associates offer their time and talents to further our reach and help our communities reap the full extent of potential productivity gains from the evolving Gen AI economy. Our associates, for example, lead tech bootcamps and hackathons, conduct 1:1 mentoring and career readiness workshops, and they build tech solutions for NGOs and train NGO staff.

What would you advise other companies evaluating their corporate giving plans?

During this time of transformative change, trust is central, especially in the communities you serve. Now is the time for companies to affirm their investment in the future by "walking the walk." We prioritize this at Cognizant. We help communities by not just investing in our own current employees, but by investing dollars in the communities of people who will make up the future workforce. Different needs must be met in different communities, so it's key to partner with groups already on the ground to help train and upskill so individuals can get better jobs and share in something we all want - a bright future.

Learn more about Cognizant's Synapse initiative to train one million people for the jobs of the future at

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