Stereotypes can’t stand in the way of Crystal’s passion for mechanical engineering

Crystal Gwinn

Crystal Gwynn spent countless hours in her childhood watching over her dad’s shoulder as he worked on cars. Even a standard oil change was fascinating to her. As a high achiever, she was committed to performing highly in academics, sports and extracurricular activities. But all the while, Crystal held a passion and curiosity for mechanics.

“When I was about 15, a family friend was working as a mechanic, and I asked to work in his shop during the summer,” she said. “He said that no man would let a woman work on his car and that I might get hurt.”

That challenge was all it took for Crystal to set her sights on something bigger — something that others said she couldn't do. From that summer on, Crystal attended engineering camp and explored the different types of engineering she would one day claim as a career.

I thought, if guys won’t let me work on their cars, I’m gonna go ahead and design, develop and test the engine. I’ve always been stubborn. If you tell me I can’t do something, I will do it even better.

And that’s exactly what she did. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and her master’s at the University of Illinois, Crystal completed a rotational engineering program at Ford Motor Company. In 2005, she returned to her roots in North Carolina to work at Cummins.

Meeting critical transport needs

Now, as a team manager for the Cummins Rocky Mount Tech Center, Crystal manages the implementation of new programs and products, offering end-to-end product support. On each project she oversees, her goal is to have a zero-defect launch with no issues in quality or assembly.

I empower my team to make decisions in rolling out new programs. Our engines are going out to Europe, South America, North America and all around the world. It’s our job to make sure no issues reach the customer.

Crystal’s impact goes beyond the technicalities of testing. As a mother of two, she knows how important it is that communities have reliable transportation to depend on — whether it’s a city bus, delivery van, semi-truck or school bus, Crystal’s work keeps vehicles moving safely.

“I don’t want to think about my daughters not being able to get to school if their school bus breaks down,” Crystal said. “Several people in my family are truck drivers, too. If I can help people get from point A to point B without breaking down, then I’m doing my part.”

With family working in transportation, Crystal knows firsthand the impact of Cummins’ reliability and innovation in the field. It goes beyond spec sheets — drivers on the road know they can depend on Cummins products.

“People come to me and they say they love Cummins,” Crystal said. “Even if there is an issue, they know they will get a swift response and good service. People have pride in the brand because not only does Cummins have better quality engines, but we really care about our customers and end-users.”

Committed to powering a more prosperous (and inclusive) world

Cummins may be a power technology company, but we’re focused on people first. We’re committed to creating a culture of inclusion where all people are empowered to be their best selves, no matter your gender, race, orientation or culture.

“Being a woman in engineering, there can be a lot of ignorant stereotypes you have to deal with,” Crystal said.

At Cummins, I haven’t had a lot of obstacles because the company is so driven by diversity and inclusion. The leadership team is incredibly diverse, and that representation at the next level makes me feel represented and empowered.

At Cummins, diversity isn’t about fulfilling quotas and checking boxes — it’s about hiring people committed to excellence and informed by unique perspectives. We want our company to look like our communities, so we’re always searching for new ways to enrich our workforce.

“Cummins is taking inclusion to the next level with new hiring initiatives to recruit and accommodate neurodiverse and differently-abled individuals,” Crystal said. “Inclusion goes beyond hiring, too. No matter who we hire, we ensure we can retain them by creating a successful, inclusive, happy environment. No matter who you are, what you look like or where you come from, you can be successful here.

Interested in learning more about a Career at Cummins? Check out our Careers site.

Want to hear more from our team? Read more stories here.

Lauren Cole

Lauren is the Senior Digital Communications Specialist for Cummins Inc, where she focuses on social media, employee storytelling, and employer branding. Lauren joined the company in early 2017 and has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University. 

Chitra is always looking forward to the future while enjoying the present and appreciating the past

Chitra Bhagat

What’s next? For most people, it’s simply a question. For Chitra Bhagat, however, it’s her passion and her job description. Chitra currently serves as Solutions and Technology Leader for the analytics organization. “I sit under the analytics and artificial intelligence group. It’s kind of a niche area in data. These days everyone is talking about artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart data, making the data work for us, insights, things like that. I work with and lead a small team which is responsible for implementing the analytics solutions for the company.”

Chitra goes on to explain her role even further. “I have many responsibilities. One is helping the organization find those strategic areas of work in the analytics space. I'm continually researching externally where the market is headed and looking to bring those capabilities internally to Cummins.”

A large part of my job is thinking ahead a few quarters or years and influencing stakeholders on where Cummins should be investing our dollars to be most successful.”

While Chitra says she thoroughly enjoys immersing herself in the data to see where that will lead, that’s not the most fulfilling part of her job. “I’ve had about 15-member team and as you can imagine, a large part of my day-to-day is keeping everybody motivated. I interact with almost everyone on a one-on-one basis to help them see the big picture, because it's very easy for every individual to just get lost down their own data-infused rabbit hole. So coaching is a large part of my job.”

That’s the part Chitra enjoys most. It’s not just about the work. It’s about the people, their lives and where they are headed in the future. “I love helping my team think through their careers. Guiding and advising them about where they should be headed next. And I’m not unique in that aspect.”

Cummins’ culture is all about helping, teaching, and mentoring others. I had great mentors early on, so this is my way of paying it forward.” 

When Chitra remembers back even further, ironically enough, that too, is all about forward looking and forward thinking. “I have been with Cummins for six years, but I have known and interacted with Cummins since 2009 when I was working in consulting. I was always impressed with how far along Cummins was in the data space. I had worked with many organizations all over the world – in the U.S., United Kingdom, and throughout Asia – and Cummins was by far the most progressive.”

That trailblazing aspect really interested me and was something I wanted to be a part of.”

Chitra also cites Cummins’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as another reason she wanted to work here and another area where she says Cummins was, and still is, ahead of the times and the curve. 

I have never known diversity like I have known at Cummins.”

“Cummins doesn’t just talk about it, they back it up. We truly believe in the power of people and embrace everyone’s different background, view, and perspective. I saw that was evident at Cummins when I was in consulting, and I’ve seen that commitment get stronger here every year.”

When asked to look forward into her own future, Chitra can’t help but look to her past. “All my experiences at Cummins have been very positive. I have received formal and informal mentorship from a lot of senior leaders. I was a part of a leadership program and I was mentored by the vice president of the New Power business. I've been privileged to go through those experiences and learn a lot. So, I see myself taking all I’ve learned and experienced and to continue to grow, enjoy what I do, and do all I can to see my team and the organization succeed.” 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Darryl turned an impactful internship into a full-time career at Cummins

As a summer intern at Cummins in 2019, diversity and inclusion really impacted Darryl and made him “more than ecstatic” to accept a full time offer. “Just during that summer internship, I learned a lot about the company: what the culture is like, how things work, how people interact with each other in the work environment. All of them were very positive experiences and I really enjoyed it and I love the company. That’s why I came back.” Over that summer, Darryl would hear “sometimes five, six different languages around the office” and found that fascinating. “Getting to work with people from different backgrounds, coming from various countries, it was a really great experience.” Darryl has been with Cummins for more than a year as an Engineering Development Program Engineer as part of the rotation program. 

Cummins really abides by their core values.”

Darryl was first introduced to Cummins at the SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) Conference where he “saw what they do and it caught my eye that they were diversified, very inclusive. I thought that they really focused on that a lot more than a lot of other companies. Cummins really stands by that. It attracted me and I thought, ‘It’s a great company, great culture, let me give it a shot.’”

Darryl recently completed a program used to capture and record data from one of Cummins’ measurement devices that previously had limited functionality and turned it into a well-rounded program. “Now it’s a very functional, user-friendly, comprehensive all-in-one tool. I worked with technicians and our key stakeholders to determine what they wanted out of the program and was able to create a program that exceeds their expectations, and they are really happy with it, and it makes their lives easier. Before, there was a lot of manual interaction and now everything is automated, and people love it.”

Cummins provides a wide variety of opportunities to allow employees to hone their interests and skill sets and is a company that is constantly growing by exploring new technology.”

Darryl sees bountiful opportunity at Cummins as a result of continual growth and exploring new technology, “when people voice interest in joining a new business unit, opportunities are available, and they can go there.” At Cummins, Darryl enjoys “being part of a company with a very long history yet still striving for continuous improvement and betterment of the world. I’m really proud to be part of this global impact.”

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

For Jessica, Cummins has always been synonymous with community

Jessica Hopkins

Cummins Inc. has been part of Jessica Hopkins’ life for as long as she can remember. “I was born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, and I had family members who worked there, so I’ve always known about Cummins. Cummins has its international headquarters here, but I never thought I would end up working there.”

When asked why, Jessica reveals, “I never had technical interests or a technical background, so I never saw myself working for an engine manufacturing company. But that gradually changed over time. The older that I got, the more I realized how many ways Cummins touches our lives every day.”

When you see all the different things that our engines can do and see what our solutions do for people – to me, that is special.”

For college, Jessica stayed in-state and attended the Indiana University in Bloomington. Then, when the opportunity presented itself, Jessica accepted an internship offer from her “hometown company” and started here as a Program Management Intern in 2015.

Liking her internship and all she experienced getting to know Cummins up-close and personal, Jessica began her full-time career shortly after as a Project Coordinator. Two years later, she was promoted to Project Manager – the position she holds today. 

Jessica manages projects for a team that is helping to create analytic solutions for any product quality issues. “A lot of my job entails creating project schedules and understanding what we need to get done in this next week while also understanding how our solutions are going to impact our internal customers and how, in turn, that will impact our external customers, as well.” When asked more about her team, Jessica lights up and smiles. 

There’s the joke people say that project management is a lot like herding cats. But for me, I don't feel like cats do my team justice. I truly feel like they're tigers. Each and every one of them is a rock star.”

And a diverse group of tigers and rock stars they are. “My team is made up of people from many different backgrounds and ethnicities, which is great. They all bring such unique things to the table, and I really enjoy getting to know and work with people from all different walks of life and learning about their cultures.”

Jessica says she also enjoys exploring things a little closer to home, as well. “What I really like about Cummins is all the opportunities it offers. And not just from a career standpoint.”

I'm also able to learn more about different community partners. I'm able to get involved with different local events and young professional groups within the Indianapolis area.” 

One such group Jessica enjoys contributing to is the Cummins Downtown Indianapolis Resource Group. “I’m involved in helping create a monthly newsletter for employees, so they are aware of things that are going on in our community and ways to mingle and network, whether it's with professionals within the Cummins community or outside of Cummins.”

Jessica previously served as a liaison to Westminster Neighborhood Services, one of our community partners. “I was able to put my project management skills to work for them, supporting their needs, whether it was helping with the grant process, writing funds for an upcoming project or recruiting volunteers.” She now leads the Equality of Opportunity sub-committee which is a part of the Cummins Indianapolis Community Involvement Team. 

As for what the future holds for Jessica, she says she doesn’t know, and that’s a good thing. “I never saw myself in analytics before, but I love what I do. Maybe moving forward, I can try something else. Cummins is very good at letting you explore your interests and supporting moves to other areas of the business or even other locations around the world.”

But for right now, Jessica is happy right here at home. 



One on One with Ian Norton

Ian Norton

Today, Ian Norton is the Cummins Arabia Director of Aftermarket and Engine Business, working from the United Arab Emirates, but his Cummins Inc. journey began over 20 years ago in Durban, South Africa, as a Field Service Engineer. 

We sat down with Norton to find out why he continues his career at Cummins, and his advice for anyone seeking a career at the company.

Today working 20 years at one company is not very common. Why Cummins?

I can answer that directly with one word, values. Cummins is a company that lives its values, not just writes them in a document for people to learn about during new hire orientation. I have a background in service, operations, engineering and manufacturing, which made Cummins a perfect fit for my skill set. My skills are applicable in marine, power generation, mining defense, construction, and all automotive markets. The global presence of Cummins has afforded me the opportunity to work in South Africa, New Zealand, the U.K., and now the UAE for the last 14 years. The company is great.

A little about me; I grew up on a farm where we had a fair bit of machinery and a workshop. I loved riding and racing motor bikes and I was always interested in big machines and how they work, so that certainly shaped me, and guided me in the direction of getting in an engineering field where we work on and look after machines.

Thinking of your current role, is there anything about it that has a ‘cool factor’ or makes you feel good about what you do? 

For me it is about being able to see the machines we sell or service working in operation, seeing them physically at work and what they can do, whether its offshore supply vessels, mining equipment, locomotives or even large power stations working at full power. I confess I am somewhat of a 'petrol head' so to see the power, hear the noise and the size of them - I do enjoy that and think it's pretty cool.

It’s clear you like to be hands on, so what does a typical day on the job look like, especially during this pandemic. 

I look after a number of functions, namely Service, Aftermarket Sales, Engine Sales, Supply Chain and Quality. I also look after a high horsepower engine remanufacturing facility. No day is really typical, it's more about prioritizing my time between customers and my team; the various leaders of each function and ensuring they get the support and guidance from me in order to be successful in each of their roles. It’s often them asking for help on a decision or us planning the coming weeks and months of work. As my role has a lot of operational responsibilities I very seldom work from home, maybe two days a month, I far prefer being involved in the action and seeing my colleagues as often as is safe and responsible.

Your day to day sounds interesting, although no days are the same, can you elaborate more on some of the tasks you do on a regular basis and what makes that work meaningful? 

I really enjoy the sense of accomplishment my team feels in fulfilling their roles. I am responsible for a large diverse team of talented employees. The challenges they need to overcome each day in order to serve our customers varies greatly. Years ago, I would find it was often myself trying to come up with solutions to these problems and passing that down to my reports. That gradually transitioned to explaining to them the logic and the basis of how I came to those decisions more so than providing the answer. The satisfying part now is to see them grow in their roles, take ownership, and succeed in what they are doing, coming up with and executing upon their ideas themselves. It is not lost on me at all that my success is completely dependent on the talent, motivation, and sense of a common goals of the people who work for us.

What does the future of your career look like? What are you excited about? 

When I started out in Cummins many years ago, we were known more as an engine engineering company which really did appeal to me as my bias lay mostly there at that time. Probably around 10 years ago we were more known being an engineering technology company, but still very industrial focused and not many outside of our industry knew a lot about what we did or had a very tangible connection to our company or my job. In more recent years with the energy transition gaining more traction and getting a lot of attention in the media, there is a lot more awareness in these new power technologies such as hydrogen power, fuel cells, hybrids etc., and I'm pleased about the way that so many more people see the relevance of what we are doing at Cummins in powering a more sustainable future.

For other people considering a career at Cummins, what would you tell them? 

Cummins is over a century old and has a very well-established global footprint. Having the opportunity to interact with such a diverse global work force and potentially visit or live in such a variety of countries is an exciting prospect; more importantly working for Cummins you really feel how seriously the company considers its employees’ wellbeing at work and at home, the impact we have on our customers businesses, our role in our communities and our responsibility to our environment and a more sustainable future. I think most people could identify strongly with any of those attributes and see the appeal.

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