Cummins, Inc., a global giant in the manufacturing of engine technology, welcomed three dozen LCLD Fellows to its Indianapolis headquarters for the final Learning Experience of 2019.
Hosted by LCLD Member Sharon Barner (below), Vice President and General Counsel, the Learning Experience gave Fellows a rare inside look at an iconic, values-driven company whose support for civil rights, social justice, and the principles of diversity and inclusion dates from the early 20th century.
In their welcoming remarks, 2019 Fellow Chris Tucker and Dinesh Castellino, Deputy General Counsel of International & AGC Engine Business, shared the professional backgrounds and personal journeys that brought them to Cummins.
That spirit of warmth and openness continued in the next session, a fireside chat between LCLD President Robert Grey and Sharon Barner.
Prompted by Grey, Ms. Barner went beyond the outline of her career path to describe experiences in her youth that formed her approach to life and leadership. She recounted her childhood in Ohio, her work in a car factory that enabled her to attend college and law school, her early days as an attorney at a law firm where she became the firm's first African American on the Management Committee and the first African American Department Chair, and her work as a Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the Obama administration.
Barner’s stories included observations on sexism, racism, work evaluations, sponsors and mentors, and a host of other topics that the Fellows related to. She stressed the importance of being vulnerable as a leader, and how important it is for people to know who you are to build trust. Fellows had the opportunity to ask questions about handling stress, transitioning from law firms to in-house, and raising a family while succeeding in a high-pressure career. Ms. Barner advised Fellows that resilience is key and that mistakes are not defining. She spent most of the day with the Fellows, and got to know many of them one-on-one.
“Sharon Barner embodies all that LCLD is trying to accomplish,” observed 2018 Fellow Jerome McCluskey, a partner at Milbank. “She and Cummins are leading in both word and deed when it comes to building a more diverse legal profession. To not only hear Sharon share her personal story but also to see and interact with her diverse leadership team was powerful. She’s the real deal.”
The next session focused on how the Cummins Legal Department works with Ethics and Compliance to support the company’s business goals.
Fernanda Beraldi, Senior Director, Ethics & Compliance, discussed the importance of Cummins’ values and mission statement (based on “making people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world”) to its day-to-day operations. She credited early President J. Irwin Miller for his legacy of ethical conduct, as well as his modern ideas with respect to diversity & inclusion. (The company’s founder, Clessie Cummins, was a diesel engine pioneer who worked as driver for the Miller family.)
Kirsten Keefe, Senior Counsel for Regulatory & Compliance and a 2019 LCLD Fellow, discussed the company’s philosophy on these matters and its practical, ten-step approach to compliance. Fellows again had questions for these speakers on topics such as training for employees, empowering the front line, and the values of lawyers in non-traditional roles in the company.
Fellows heard next from Dr. Adeola Deborah Olubamji, Senior Additive Manufacturing Engineer, who works with innovative technologies such as 3D printing and rapid prototyping. She is the first additive engineer in the history of Cummins and often referred to as “Additive Addy.” She discussed the benefits of such manufacturing processes, the business case to support their use, and future plans. Following the session Fellows got to see and handle samples of items produced by additive manufacturing.
Next Vinoo Thomas, a 20-year Cummins veteran who serves as Director of Product Planning for Electrified Power, walked the Fellows though Cummins’ approach to the making of engines for electric vehicles, including automobiles, trucks, buses, boats, and huge, specialized vehicles for mining and other industries.
While Cummins is recognized as a world leader in this emerging technology, having invested hundreds of millions in R&D every year since 2011, electrified power only became an individual business segment for Cummins in 2018, a reflection of alternative energy’s growing importance and potential for the world. Fellows had many questions on this topic and Mr. Thomas discussed profitability, growing markets, and operating in a volatile regulatory market.
After a morning filled with substantive presentations, Fellows toured Cummins headquarters and learned about some of its unique architectural elements from Valerie Werner, Director of HSE Global Technical Operations. Despite the rainy weather, Fellows got outside to look at the some of the building’s unique architectural elements such as its shape and shifting floor plates.
The afternoon began with a lively panel discussion with Cummins Legal Leadership Team led by Marya Rose, Chief Administrative Officer and Former General Counsel, who recruited Sharon Barner as her successor. Dinesh Castellino joined the discussion that also included Toni Hickey, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel and Deputy General Counsel; Karen Weber, Senior Counsel for Global Litigation; Terry Magid, Deputy General Counsel Administration and Assistant General Counsel, Components Segment; and John Gaidoo, Assistant General Counsel.
Each attorney fielded questions about their personal backgrounds and roles in the company. The group also addressed topics such as supporting the Board of Directors, working with the CEO, connecting with business units, and opportunities for attorneys outside the Legal Department. They also answered Fellows’ questions on operations and assembling diverse teams.
Next up was Mary Chandler, Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Community Relations. She discussed the company’s strategies for employee engagement, leadership engagement, and global initiatives. She explained that support for corporate responsibility begins at the very top, with CEO Tom Linebarger. The Fellows watched a video describing an initiative Cummins launched two years ago, Cummins Powers Women, which partners with the best non-profits in the world for education and advancing women and girls. Asked about grants and measuring success, Chandler responded with thorough and thoughtful answers.
The day ended with an interactive session on Covering. Mark Osowick, Vice President for HR Operations, and Carolyn Butler Lee, Executive Director for Global Diversity & Inclusion Strategy, presented on the value of being yourself and creating an authentic work environment. They both told their own stories of covering during their career journeys, and how they’ve approached issues of authenticity and identity. Afterwards they engaged the Fellows in an interactive exercise that encouraged them to work with each other and share experiences.
The night before the Learning Experience, the Fellows gathered at the Taft Center in downtown Indianapolis for a welcome event hosted by Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, an LCLD Member law firm. Robert Hicks, Taft’s Chairman and Managing Partner, welcomed the Fellows to the city. Fellows also heard from Carole Casto, Cummins Vice President – Marketing & Communications who gave an overview of Cummins and its rich history of leadership and innovation.
LCLD would like to thank 2015 Fellow Kiamesha Colom of Taft Stettinius & Hollister and the team from Cummins, including Dinesh Castellino and 2019 Fellows Kirsten Keefe and Christopher Tucker, for the time and dedication that went into planning this Learning Experience.