Sustainable Leadership in Action
Cummins' Rocky Mount, N.C. Plant Manager Ken Anderson takes an active role both inside the plant and working with educational institutions to develop the next generation of plant employees.
Ken Anderson, plant manager of Cummins’ Rocky Mount Engine Plant, recognizes the interdependence between the Company’s operations and the North Carolina region where his 2,100 employees and contractors live and work.
Believing that a strong community is conducive to a thriving business, Anderson has developed a deep commitment to community-building. He is playing a key role in an initiative to improve education in the region as the chairman of the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce’s Business and Industry Division.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without Ken’s leadership,” said Jeffrey Batts, past chairman of the chamber’s board of directors.
“We talk about public-private partnerships as a way to get things done. Ken has made himself a role model for how that works on the private side. His commitment -- and Cummins' commitment -- to the community is inspirational.”
Key stakeholders, including representatives from industry, local government, three community colleges, a four-year university and two public school systems are working together to improve education in the Rocky Mount area and, in turn, the quality of the regional workforce.
Keeping such a large coalition moving forward is never easy but the situation is even more challenging because Rocky Mount straddles two counties with tremendous socio-economic differences.
However, the area’s two public school systems have for the first time passed a joint resolution to work together on a common vision and strategic plan toward the goal of educational excellence. Batts called the unprecedented show of cooperation “a remarkable step for this community.”
Rocky Mount’s education improvement team plans to make a benchmarking trip to communities with successful community education coalitions. The team is also hiring a consultant to guide the joint planning sessions and collaborative efforts of the two school systems.
In January 2012, Anderson was named the co-recipient of the Chamber of Commerce's Woody Brown Award given to a person who "has given of his or her time and resources to the community, and has done so in an exemplary way, setting an example of how to make a positive difference through leadership, devotion, and innovation."
In addition to his work with the chamber of commerce, Anderson has served as a member of the East Carolina University School of Engineering Advisory Board and the Carolinas Gateway Partnership Board of Directors.
Anderson was also instrumental in providing Cummins engines and other training resources to local community colleges to enhance their technical education initiatives.
“Standing on the sidelines is not an option,” Anderson says when asked about why he became so involved in the educational efforts in the region. “Everyone in the community should support education for it is education that changes lives and improves communities.”
A culture of commitment
Commitment to community is part of the culture at the Rocky Mount Engine Plant operations.
Through the efforts of the employee-led Community Involvement Team, plant employees had the highest United Way campaign participation within Cummins, with 91 percent of its employees committing to give in 2012.
Those gifts, combined with the company's matching gift, provide one third of the local United Way organization's annual budget.
Cummins Rocky Mount employees also spent more than 1,000 hours working with community partners on community improvement projects as part of the Company’s Every Employee Every Community initiative last year.