Steve Chapman wanted to make sure members of Cummins Chinese Affinity Group (CCAG) in Southern Indiana knew how special he considers the group.
So at a celebration of CCAG’s 10th anniversary in July 2012, the leader of Cummins’ operations in China addressed the affinity group in Chinese and asked that his remarks be translated into English for others in the audience.
“What you have brought to the Company and to the community is not only the unique Chinese culture,” said Chapman, the affinity group’s sponsor, through his translator Scarlett Wu, a member of CCAG. “Moreover, you have transformed CCAG into a mighty power that has helped drive the growth and development of our business and our community.”
It was a familiar refrain from the senior leaders who attended the event at the YES! Cinema in Columbus, Ind. Anant Talaulicar, Vice President and President – Components Group and Chairman of Cummins India, and Jill Cook – Vice President of Human Resources, also praised the group before an audience of about 200 people.
“This is one of the groups that whenever we need help – whether it’s with translations, customer visits or something else, someone always comes through,” said Jean Blackwell, Cummins’ Executive Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and CEO of the Cummins Foundation, who also spoke at the celebration.
To hear such praise was a little overwhelming for Jean Hou, Cummins’ Director of International Business Integration and the first leader of the Cummins Chinese Affinity Group.
“I never thought CCAG would become such an important group within Cummins,” Hou said, noting that the group started so members could “help each other fit into American corporate culture.”
That’s still a big part of CCAG’s mission. Employees moving from China to Columbus can face significant cultural challenges in addition to the normal upheaval in moving to another country.
The group helps build a community in Columbus for Chinese people by supporting the Columbus Chinese Association and events such as the annual Chinese New Year’s celebration.
However, the CCAG also works to enhance the Company’s business, hosting Chinese visitors to Columbus and teaching classes on the basics of Chinese language and culture to employees who either travel to China on business or frequently work with colleagues in China via the Internet, conference calls or video conferencing.
The CCAG has also developed a guide with cultural information and information about Cummins’ business in China called “Passport to China.”
The Cummins Chinese Affinity Group is one of more than 40 affinity groups at Cummins, most organized around specific demographic traits such as ethnicity and gender that are under-represented within the Company or at a specific location.
Edmund Yu, the CCAG’s current president, said over the years the group has gotten into other activities such as career development. A number of CCAG members have returned to China to play critical roles in Cummins’ operations there.
In addition, the affinity group has helped bridge any communications gaps between the Company’s headquarters and China, helping to connect employees in China with the people they need to reach in the United States and vice versa.
Yu says the group has been fortunate to have great leaders such as Hou and Steve Mei, who now serves as the Financial Controller for Cummins Power Generation.
Working from a solid foundation and with a track record of accomplishments, Yu says the future looks very bright for Cummins Chinese Affinity Group for the decade to come.
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