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Avenues in the manufacturing sector – the Cummins perspective

Jai Kumar
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Cummins India Limited is India’s leading manufacturer of diesel and natural gas engines. It is one of the eight legal entities of the Cummins Group in India. The eight entities conduct businesses that are complimentary in nature, which is into design, manufacture, distribution and service of engines, generators and related technologies.

The Group’s operations are spread across 200 locations in the country employing about 14,000 individuals. The Group’s vice president of HR, Mr. Nagarajan Balanaga spoke to The Hindu Opportunities about HR initiatives at Cummins India. Excerpts:

What are the avenues for a college fresher in the manufacturing sector with reference to firms such as Cummins?

At Cummins, depending upon qualification and interest one can explore opportunities in functions varying from engineering and manufacturing to finance, IT, service, quality, HR, marketing and sales, purchase and supply chain management.

What are the personal traits and skill sets that you look for in a new hire?

Cummins seeks candidates who demonstrate the six core values of the company, namely, integrity, diversity, innovation, global involvement, corporate responsibility and delivering superior results. The candidate should be agile, decisive, driven to win, passionate and caring. At the time of recruitment, between values and skills, the organisation places greater emphasis on values as it believes that values unlike skills cannot be acquired.

What are the learning and training initiatives at Cummins India for employees aspiring for higher positions?

Aligned with the ‘hire to develop’ philosophy towards providing a long-term career with Cummins, the organisation offers numerous opportunities. They include assignments across functions and geographies and fully sponsored management and technical education programmes in partnership with leading institutions such as IIM-A, SP Jain and ARAI-VIT in India, and Kelley School of Business in the US.

How is exceptional work recognised and rewarded at Cummins?

Cummins believes in performance ethics focussing on best results versus efforts while determining rewards and recognition. Achievers at Cummins are personally recognised by the Group Managing Director in the presence of the leadership team at the all-employee communication forum held quarterly. In addition, once a year, star performers are also recognised at the CMD (Chairman and Managing Director) Awards for demonstrating the six core values of the company. The company invests in employees who are aligned to its core values, demonstrate great potential and deliver consistently.

What are Cummins India initiatives to promote gender equality and diversity?

Cummins believes that organisations that embrace diversity and inclusiveness will have a competitive advantage. In keeping with this philosophy, the company endeavours to increase representation of women in its overall employee strength. It has catapulted the percentage of women employees in the professional category across its product businesses from 4% in 2004 to 24% in 2011. Cummins aims to further grow this number to 35% in the coming years.

Diversity as a core value is deeply embedded in the DNA of the organisation. The company has a Women’s Affinity Group that is devoted to recruitment, retention and development of women employees at Cummins. Also, there are policies that are more women-oriented such as flexi work hour policy, maternity and new mothers’ policy and part time work policy. As for new mothers there are crèche facilities on campus.

How do you feel after winning the ‘Best Employer for Women’ by WILL forum India?

It is indeed a matter of pride to be recognised as the best employer for women in corporate India. This recognition comes at a time when Cummins in India has been working consciously towards embracing diversity as a core value and also as an initiative of strategic importance. With strong commitment from all levels within the organisation, not only has the company achieved a significant increase in women representation at the entry and middle levels, but also at leadership positions that are critical to the organisation’s present and future growth. The recognition testifies Cummins’ strong commitment towards embracing diversity and inclusiveness.

What is the role of Women’s Affinity Group at Cummins India?

The Women’s Affinity Group (WAG) is an employee-led group launched in 2005. Devoted to recruiting, retaining and developing women at Cummins in India, the mission of this group is to:

Drive the ‘Step Up’ message amongst both men and women

Provide an inclusive environment for diverse work teams to come together cohesively in order to achieve business objectives

Ensure a safe and equal workplace for women, thus fostering their retention and growth

How is the future outlook for women employees in the manufacturing sector in India?

The manufacturing industry in India is growing at a rapid pace. In the recent years, companies have realised that attracting and retaining women in the workforce maximises innovation, creativity and competitiveness. Organisations are now making a conscious effort to increase the number of women employees in their workforce. The diversity management team across each of the group companies of Cummins in India is constantly consolidating and benchmarking practices to ensure that Cummins is at the forefront in the industry.

Working at the grass root level, Cummins had partnered with Maharshi Karve Stree Shikshan Samstha (MKSSS) to establish the first engineering college in the country exclusively for women way back in 1991. Cummins College of Engineering for Women (CCEW) was the first in India to establish the Mechanical Engineering branch (for women only) which ensures a continuous pipeline of qualified women engineers for the industry. Working closely with the labour ministry, Cummins has been at the forefront in seeking exemption to employing women for the second shift at its manufacturing plants, thus facilitating equal opportunities for both genders.

What are the social responsibility programmes at Cummins India?

In line with one of the six core values of corporate responsibility, the Cummins India Foundation works actively on projects both in the local community and in other parts of India where Cummins has a presence. Each project falls under one of the three identified focus areas, namely, energy and environment, higher education and local infrastructure development. Besides extending financial support through the foundation, Cummins encourages active involvement and participation of its employees in its corporate responsibility initiatives. Cummins works closely with civic bodies, government, NGOs and social welfare communities towards this end.

Jai Kumar

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