Maryann has never been one to compromise who she is. Her self-awareness and self-confidence are what brought her, unexpectedly, to Cummins in 2015.
In college, Maryann worked on campus with an environmental regulation compliance team that managed the school's health, safety, and environment (HSE) as she worked toward her master’s degree in chemical engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology.
“I worked with them for four years while completing my undergrad and master's degrees,” she said, “from the bottom up to the top as a supervisor - I designed safety & environmental policies and procedures for all the university’s science labs.” She ensured they met OSHA, RCRA, and industry standards for handling chemical spills, radioactive material handling, hazardous waste, and more.
As she neared graduation in 2015, Maryann attended a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) convention in the hopes of finding a job in chemical engineering. Known for her fashionable, sometimes attention-getting nail color and designs, friends warned her before the conference to “be proper” and “dress neutral to look professional” to ensure potential employers considered her. Ever faithful to herself, Maryann ignored their advice and attended the conference with her signature style wearing long, green nails.
“When I was going to the conference, my friend made fun of my nails, and I was like, ‘what is wrong with the color? I'm going this way,” Maryann said. She was confident that her experience, extracurricular societies and activities on her resume would put her at the top of any candidate list regardless of her nails. And she was right.
When she saw the Cummins booth at the convention, she stopped. She was somewhat familiar with the company because her father, a civil engineer back in Nigeria, had worked with Cummins generators. Maryann started a conversation with the recruiter who, after talking to her for a few minutes said, “And by the way, I like your nails!”
Disarmed and charmed, Maryann shared with the recruiter what her friend had said. The recruiter replied, “We don’t worry about those things at Cummins.” From then on, the conversation was easy, and at the end of it, the recruiter asked for Maryann’s resume, impressed with her experience in the environmental space. She let Maryann know Cummins was looking for a Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) position internally.
The Cummins HSE team is responsible for identifying sustainability opportunities as well as potential hazards. They develop processes and procedures to reduce or remove any risks, and train team members on accident prevention and response so that everyone arrives home safely every day. The goal is for employees to take ownership of their spaces and speak up when things don’t look right; addressing everything from a trip hazard to ways to conserve water.
In the four years, Maryann worked on the compliance team at her university, she unknowingly developed the exact skillset she would need to work on a Cummins HSE team.
“The following week I got called for an interview,” she says, “and the rest is history.”
Maryann began as an intern at the Cummins Technical Center where she worked on a risk assessment tool that improved safety controls by 80%. After graduation, she returned to the Cummins Mid-range Engine Plant (CMEP) to work as an HSE analyst, after which she got the opportunity to be the Global Environmental FE Specialist for PSBU. She continued working in safety and environmental roles at Cummins, where she found a love for management systems.
Today, Maryann is the North American Regional Audit Lead for Cummins, where she manages a team of six. She provides leadership and strategic support for North America ISO management systems and maintains audit consistency across NA. She conducts on-site, weeklong audit visits to assess risk and policy adherence. She also checks shop floors for risk reduction opportunities. When not on-site, she manages, coaches and trains other auditors, conducts gap analyses, and works on budgets for new site acquisitions.
Her priority is ensuring Cummins employees are surpassing industry safety standards, while reducing company costs and environmental footprint, with a target of zero waste. She takes pride in connecting her work with the company’s Planet 2050 sustainability goals.
“It’s the ripple effect - that’s how I contribute. We leverage the management systems to reduce the risk at every site, which improves site process, which makes sure Cummins meets set out goals at the end of the day,” she says.
Aside from her passion for the work, Maryann fell in love with Cummins because of the way everyone’s included. “You know, that warmness that you feel working with Cummins? It cannot be compared to any other companies out there. [My friends] envy how I’m heard and included at my job. At meetings, they ask, ‘Maryann what do you think?’ They want to hear your voice.”
Maryann appreciates that Cummins isn’t a company that just talks about being diverse and inclusive - they actually practice what they preach. She points to the different avenues they offer, such as employee resource groups, women’s resource groups and the Cummins Black Network.
“Those groups have taught me how to be inclusive at work,” she says. “It’s one thing to be diverse, but another to make sure everyone is included and heard. Cummins provides different avenues to celebrate your diversity and to include you within your workspace. They make sure everyone feels welcome.”
They always give me projects that challenge me, teach me, and increase my knowledge and skillsets so I’m more marketable. They invest in me. Cummins understands that when employees are happy, they do more and better work.”
Recently, Maryann felt that inclusivity when she sat on a conference panel with Erica Baird, President of Industrial Business at Cummins Sales & Service North America. She said, “They paid no mind to the difference in our career levels. Me being in the same room, on the same panel and answering the same questions as these women that I look up to, made me realize ‘I could be that person one day.’ Cummins gives you that.”
Though she’s not sure exactly what’s next for her professionally, Maryann knows she’ll one day hold a position that will inspire women of color and of her background to dream big “because I was able to do it,” she says. “I see it happening at Cummins. I see women being President. I see women being CEOs, and I feel like it’s possible.” That possibility - to be seen and heard as your authentic self, from the shop floor to the c-suite - makes a real difference to employees. Take it from Maryann, staying true to yourself can lead to great opportunities - green nails, and all.