From budding careers to lasting impact: Recognizing vast opportunities for women in Mining
A 2021 study by McKinsey & Company explores the reality many companies in the mining industry are working to address: underrepresentation of women in the industry. Cummins has long prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and aspired to a workforce that is representative at every level of the communities in which it operates around the world. The mining industry is a powerful example of Cummins’ commitment to empowering women and providing opportunities for development and advancement.
At Cummins, women excel in a variety of careers serving the mining industry globally: service technicians, engineers, sales and marketing experts and executive leaders are among the many women from various backgrounds who are critical to the success of the mining business. Cummins has many initiatives to bring greater gender balance and equity into our workforce and communities, including:
- Cummins Women in Technology Initiative and Conference
- Focusing on gender balance during recruitment
- Reducing the gender pay gap
- Inspiring the next generations of engineers with a suite of STEM programs designed for girls
- Empowering women through the through the Cummins Women's Empowerment Network, an employee resource group (ERG)
- Providing a variety of flexible working arrangements, and enhanced parental benefits including an extended paternity policy
- Award-winning breastfeeding-friendly facilities/workplaces
Let’s take a look at some of the unique programs and perspectives from Cummins’ mining team.
View the gallery: Why should more women pursue careers in mining?
Training Opportunities are Critical for Career Transition and Advancement
A recent success comes from a Cummins-owned distributor in Chile, where a pilot program in 2022 recruited women with no prior technical experience to undergo specialized training for engine maintenance. The program resulted in the first group of women who are certified maintenance technicians serving mining customers and will continue in 2023. "This program is here to stay. This experience tells us that the plan is feasible in the mining sector, as well as in all areas of the company,” said Darío Ñancupil, Mining Director of Cummins Chile.
Mining Newcomers from All Types of Backgrounds are Finding Success in Sales and Service Roles
The mining industry also has opportunities for women who have worked in other industries and want a change. Transferable skills such as nimble learning, effective communication, project management, and strategic thinking are among the many competencies that are valued and in high demand within the mining industry.
Cummins Service Support Manager, Amanda Welsh, in Kamloops, BC, left her career as a bank teller to become a service advisor at an OEM dealership. While she initially faced challenges from not having a technical background, her perseverance delivered. “A pivotal moment for me was when I received a comment from a customer who said, ‘Amanda, when you say you will do something, you will, I don’t have to keep checking that it will get done. I can trust what you say and move on with my day.’ This gave me the confidence, drive and determination to keep forging ahead even on the days when I was asked, ‘can I talk to a guy please?’.”
Employed with Cummins since 1995, Sarah Bilston spent much of her career in finance before becoming a Six Sigma Black Belt in 2007 and gaining exposure to complex projects within the Mining industry. Fast forward to four years ago when the Director of Mining, Asia Pacific, encouraged Sarah to consider applying for a role in the mining team, and she jumped at the opportunity. “Any female thinking about a career shift shouldn’t focus on the aspects of the mining industry they don’t have experience with and instead focus on the skills they can bring that will benefit the role,” she says.
STEM Roles Offer Robust Opportunity for Women in Mining
As Market Support Service Engineer Virginia A Veruette-maya says: “Helmets are made for boys and girls. More little girls should be playing with haul trucks and excavators!” When she was an intern with Cummins’ Master Rebuild Center in Denver, Colorado, Veruette-maya saw a high horsepower engine for the first time. “Ever since then, I just fell in love with the big engines, and I wanted to be on the front line. I wanted to bring the customer’s voice to my engineering team and help develop a better product.”
Leigha Chadwell, Six Sigma Black Belt – PSBU, Mining & Aftermarket, had a similar introduction to mining. “The first time that I went to a mine site, I was just amazed with the scale of the equipment and the operations at hand. I just loved it right away.” Chadwell has worked in application engineering for Cummins for 10 years. “I have had so much opportunity to travel to unique places, to test equipment and troubleshoot in the field, and interact directly with customers and OEMs.”
Why can STEM careers be a woman’s world? Hear from other female colleagues.
Opening Doors for Women Leaders in Mining
Whether building industry experience from years spent in the field or bringing new perspectives into the industry, women in leadership positions are critical for the industry’s continued growth and success.
“It’s incredibly important that women see and have access to other women in positions of leadership, including in the Mining industry,” says Jenny Bush, President, Cummins Power Systems. “Women need others they can relate to and the support and encouragement to dream big when considering their career aspirations. Mentoring is extremely valuable. I am passionate about opening doors for women by providing visibility, giving candid feedback and making connections so more women have pathways and time to develop and move into leadership roles. We are fortunate at Cummins to have robust leadership development programs and resources which help prepare women to ascend to and thrive in leadership roles across the company.”
One such leader at Cummins is Erica Baird, DBU Executive Director—Global Sales and Service, promoted in March 2023 from President of the Industrial Segment for Cummins Sales & Service North America (CSSNA). A mining engineer by trade and one of the first few African American women to graduate with a B.S. in mining engineering in the U.S., Erica joined Cummins in 2022 after a long history in the industry: “I paid my way through college working in the mines. I drove trucks. I worked as a surveyor. I scheduled maintenance. That’s how I learned about mining and fell in love with the industry.”
Hear more from Erica and other women in mining roles at Cummins:
Cummins remains committed to accelerating diversity and inclusion within the mining sector. “Our mining team benefits daily from the substantial contributions made by our female colleagues. As an industry, we must continue finding new ways to recruit and support women,” says Beau Lintereur, Executive Director – Power Systems Aftermarket and Global Mining Market. “As both the mining industry and global workforce continue to evolve, having diverse perspectives in all functions will be paramount to a sustainable and successful future.”
Learn more about Cummins’ groundbreaking mining solutions.