Premier Profile

Mary Simmons, Program Manager

Finding the Perfect Fit at Cummins

Mary A. Simmons is a members of NSBE’s Indianapolis Professionals chapter.

Engineering has always been a perfect fit for Mary A. Simmons, allowing her to use her organizational and problem-solving skills to arrive at innovative solutions to complex problems.

“I am truly thrilled that I made the decision to pursue engineering,” says Simmons, who works for Cummins Inc., a global power leader that makes diesel engines, power generation systems and related parts and accessories. “My job is exciting, because it constantly provides me with the opportunity to help make people’s lives better.”

Simmons grew up in Jacksonville, N.C., where she graduated in the top 10 of her high school class. Her interest in civil rights led her to North Carolina A&T State University, an historically black university in Greensboro, N.C.

She initially thought she would pursue a marketing degree at the school. But Simmons had cousins who were mechanical engineers, and they helped convince her that a career in engineering would be a better match for her problem-solving and organizational skills.

Simmons joined Cummins, a Fortune 160 company based in Columbus, Ind., in 2004. She was attracted to the company in part because of its history of innovation in areas such as emissions control, as well as its strong corporate values, which include corporate responsibility, global involvement and diversity.

“The company is truly committed to improving the communities where its employees live and work and where it does business,” says Simmons, who is a program manager in the Power Generation business unit. “Cummins helps its employees feel like they are making a difference not just at work but in their communities, too.”

Simmons was also attracted to Cummins because the company, which had $17.3 billion in sales in 2012, allows employees to move into different roles over their careers, depending on their interests and backgrounds.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve experienced that to some degree,” she says. “You can map your own course, if you put forth the work and the effort.”

She also appreciates the work environment at Cummins and the company’s receptivity to new and different ideas.

“At all levels across the organization, ideas are welcomed,” Simmons says. “If you have a great idea, no matter what your title or your role, people will listen and take action. That is unusual in large companies.”

Simmons enjoys the challenges of engineering and is pleased she chose a career that allows her to capitalize on her strengths.

She would like to see more minority students pursue engineering, and she advises interested students to consider interning with companies or shadowing friends or family members who are in engineering-related fields.

“I think anyone can be a successful engineer if they want to be challenged and if they are willing to be hands-on in their work,” Simmons says. “You also have to be willing to make mistakes and learn from them. This is how product improvements and new techniques and approaches are developed. These qualities are critical to a successful engineer.”

My job is exciting, because it constantly provides me with the opportunity to help make people’s lives better.