This interview with Francisco D’Souza, chief executive of the information technology company Cognizant, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.
Q. What were some early lessons for you?
A. I was very fortunate in my upbringing. My father was a diplomat, and so, until I was 18, we traveled to a new country every three years. After finishing high school in the Caribbean, I wound up in Hong Kong when I was 18. We realized that there were few universities that taught in English, and so I went to one in Macau that focused on working professionals. I went to school at night and on weekends.
My days were free, and I got a job as a bank teller. It was a small bank, and they still used a punch-card system. I had taught myself as a teenager how to program. I went to the branch manager and told him he ought to consider new technology. He said: “Fine. Help me figure it out.” We bought a computer. We wrote the software, and I wound up supervising a couple of people when I was 19.
Q. I can imagine that some kids would resent moving to a new country every three years.
A. I was somewhat indifferent to it because I expected it, and I knew nothing else. In hindsight, I wouldn’t do it any other way. It really did shape who I am today.
Q. In what sense?
A. We learned how to love the world. There’s this great richness of diversity, yet people are far more similar than they are different. You’re not as likely to learn that when you grow up in one town, in one environment, in one culture or in one country.
The second thing is that it was an environment of scarcity in many ways, because my parents weren’t particularly affluent. You learn how to find opportunities where they don’t exist and capitalize on them. You have to find ways to make the most of everything, from the littlest things to the biggest.
Continue reading via Francisco D’Souza of Cognizant, on Finding Company Heroes – NYTimes.com.