Cognizant ATG opens innovation hub in old Sawmill District

Cognizant executive vice president Allen Shaheen talks about the Cognizant and ATG partnership at ATG’s new location in the Old Sawmill District on Wednesday. (Mari Hall/Missoula Current)

Cognizant’s Advanced Technology Group officially opened its new headquarters in Missoula’s Old Sawmill District on Wednesday, announcing plans to recruit local talent and train them for the technology needs of today and tomorrow.

The Cognizant ATG Missoula Solution Center houses about 90 employees in its 15,700-square-foot space on Wyoming Street, with plans to expand the Cambium Place workforce to 125. About 175 employees work for ATG across Montana.

“This center is going to be our innovation hub as we continue to expand our portfolio both here in Missoula, in Montana and in the United States,” said Allen Shaheen, Cognizant’s executive vice president for North American digital hubs.

Cognizant, one of the largest professional services companies in the world, acquired ATG in 2018, seeking ways to find talent to fill IT positions in Montana and provide their employees a enjoyable quality of life.

“Technology is changing at ever-increasing paces and technology companies that are going to win are going to keep and retain their employees,” said Tom Stergios, ATG senior vice president of strategy and corporate development. “Missoula is a great place to live, which makes it a great place to work. We have proven that our retention of our employees is significantly better than the industry average, and that’ll be key to our future growth as well.”

ATG and Cognizant will partner with Missoula College to implement a new training program, All In Missoula, or AIM. Currently, the 12-week training course is preparing 27 students to work for companies like ATG and Cognizant.

AIM graduates will have an opportunity to land jobs with the two companies.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock attended Wednesday’s grand opening ceremony, praising ATG and Cognizant’s role in Missoula and the AIM program.

With the development of over 34,000 private sector jobs in the last six years statewide and an increase in real-wage jobs, investment in companies like Cognizant and ATG makes sense for Montana, Bullock said.

“It’s my great honor to extend my congratulations and my thanks to Cognizant for investing in ATG, and your continued commitment to not only what we have here in Montana, but to keep building on that – creating more jobs in our community, ensuring students have access to education and training to keep our home-grown talent right here in Montana,” Bullock said.

Having just celebrated its 25th anniversary, Cognizant knows that the ability to adapt, change and focus on workforce development is critical.

“As we stand here today, there are over 500,000 open IT positions in the United States,” Shaheen said. “So this country, this economy of innovation is on the cusp of not being able to fuel itself because of a lack of resources. We cannot hire our way out of it, we’ve got to develop talent.”

Cognizant ATG Missoula Solution Center Ribbon Cutting on Wednesday. Pictured from left to right are Debashis Chatterjee, executive vice president and president of global delivery with Cognizant; Missoula Mayor John Engen; Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; Allen Shaheen, executive vice president, of North American digital hubs with Cognizant; Tom Stergios, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development with ATG; and Holly Colbert, vice president of solution delivery with ATG. (Mari Hall/Missoula Current)

With that in mind, Cognizant donated $25,000 to UM’s SpectrUM museum through the company’s foundation to fund STEM education across the United States. The goal is to introduce kids to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

University of Montana President Seth Bodnar said he’s excited to continue a decade-long partnership with ATG and now with Cognizant, pointing out that about 100 UM graduates work at ATG.

“Today’s also an exciting start of a new chapter because we see a company like Cognizant with operations all over the world also making a bet not just on ATG, not just on Missoula, not just on Montana, but on the University of Montana,” Bodnar said. “We’re very excited about the emerging partnerships.”

The company also invests in programs that train mid-career professionals who may not have a background in STEM and IT.

“Again, trying to find the quantity of talent is really difficult, so we’re looking at alternative sources than we were even two years ago,” Shaheen said in an interview with Missoula Current. “And going after these mid-career professionals who’ve seen the value of IT is really one of the major initiatives that we have across the company.”

Montana’s not the only state that faces challenges, but with strong business partnerships, economic and community development is possible, Bullock said.

“We ultimately need to get on the bus and figure out how to go forward or we’re going to get run over by that bus,” Bullock said. “It’s our university system, our communities, our states, and companies like ATG and Cognizant that are saying, ‘Let’s actually start figuring out the path forward.’ ”

Mari Hall is a reporter for the Missoula Current and can be contacted via email at mari.hall@missoulacurrent.com.

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