The pinnacle of success for many top-level business executives is to be named chief executive officer of a major corporation.
Not only did Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Francisco D'Souza (TPR'92) realize that dream, it happened for him before he turned 40 years old.
And he's not done yet.
For D'Souza, who came to CMU at the encouragement of CMU alumni while living in Hong Kong, success at the graduate level was not a guarantee.
"I learned a lot from my professors, but I also got a chance to interact with people for the first time in an academic environment where — I hate to say this — virtually everybody was smarter than I was," he said.
D'Souza added, "The Tepper School is a pressure cooker, and you start to see your own cracks. You find out about your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. But the good thing is, you also find out your strengths. They're all magnified."
D'Souza earned his graduate degree in 1992 and has thrived ever since. His accolades range from The Economic Times Entrepreneur Award to the Institutional Investor "America's Best CEOs" list.
But he doesn't like to boast of his accomplishments.
"I still don't feel like I've made it," he explained. "It's a constant journey for me and the company. We're only 18 years old. The world is so hyper-competitive these days that you have to be the absolute best at what you do. When you're competing against IBM and Accenture as we are, being 'good enough' is no longer enough."
As CEO of Cognizant Technology Solutions, a global technology and consulting services company, D'Souza is responsible for the well-being of more than 145,000 employees throughout the world. He was appointed CEO in 2007 at the age of 38.
Under D'Souza's leadership, the company has grown nearly fivefold in just five years. When he became CEO, Cognizant had 35,000 employees and revenue of $1.4 billion. In 2011, the company delivered $6.12 billion in revenue.
And at Cognizant, he believes he is doing more than leading a company; he is pushing an agenda to make sure his clients in the United States, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere can compete in global markets.
"We help our clients build stronger, more agile businesses," he says. "No question in my mind. Stronger and more vibrant."