Top 25 Consultants 2015: Steven Skinner

Steven Skinner
Excellence in Retail 


Steven Skinner’s resume is impressive, to say the least. He is Senior Vice President of Cognizant’s Products & Resources Consulting Practice with 24 years of industry experience in professional services and retail operations.

Prior to joining Cognizant, Skinner was a Strategy Partner in Accenture’s Consumer Industries practice, Vice President at Home Depot and served as General Manager for Microsoft’s Global Industry Strategy and Solutions Practice. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy reaching the rank of Commander, U.S. Navy. He also received his MBA from the University of Chicago.

But it’s the achievements that are attached to the resume that bring it to life, including being selected for Cognizant’s CEO Leadership award and IBM’s Golden Circle; achieving the rank of Commander in the US Navy. “Cognizant’s CEO award was a great signal to our team of the importance of consulting in our business,” Skinner says. “But achieving Commander in the U.S. Navy is probably my greatest thrill.”

In his time at Cognizant, Skinner has made his presence felt, for sure. Under his leadership, the Products & Resources practice has experienced exponential growth. In five-and-a half years, the practice has grown 1,000 percent. “We are very proud of that record,” Skinner says. “Our clients are choosing our team because of the value we bring to them.”

At Cognizant, that value includes empowering individuals to do what they think is right. “The entrepreneurial decision-making environment is key,” Skinner says. “Decision-making is delegated in our company, which makes it easy for our team to respond to rapidly changing client dynamics.”

As far as winning the Top 25 Consultants award, Skinner says the award is for Cognizant. “It means our firm is arriving in the marketplace as a provider of shareholder value for our clients,” he says.

On a more personal note, Skinner says the award is a validation of his core leadership concepts, as well as providing visibility and affirmation to other African-Americans working in the consulting space. “You only have to look around you to understand the African-American community is underrepresented in the consulting space,” he says. “I hope I can inspire a few young African-Americans that you can enter this profession and have great success in the consulting industry.”

What’s the biggest factor to your success?

“Finding people who are smarter than I am and convincing them to work with me. Jim Collins was right when he said you have to ‘get the right people on the bus’. If you couple that with what General Patton said, ‘Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity,’ it is amazing what the team can accomplish. Being transparent with my team on all elements of our business, their personal performance, and the challenges in front of our business. Being transparent and honest with my clients, regardless of the implications. Being open to new ideas based on facts that demonstrate my thoughts are incorrect.”

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