After working in the automotive industry for more than 20 years, Angelica Tasker took a career break. The RePower program at Cummins, Inc. helped her transition back into the workforce, and today, Angelica is Group Leader, Commercial Generator Engineering, at the global automotive technology leader. She recently shared with Fairygodboss how RePower helped her reacclimate to work, her career journey, and how COVID has affected her.
Tell us about your current role. What are your priorities, and what about the role excites you most?
My team supports the manufacturing plant for high-range and low-range commercial generators. As the engineering point of contact, my primary priorities are to 1) evaluate and execute product design changes and troubleshoot and drive resolution to engineering related issues that may impact the operations, and 2) assist my team with developing and meeting their career objectives.
What excites me about my role is my supportive team, as well as the opportunity to execute my problem-solving skills, exhibit and build my process-driven experience to influence efficiency and work with cross-functional team members to resolve issues. The operations environment can be very high paced, requiring the need to establish a flexible work plan and communicate thoroughly. It’s exciting to be back in a new role with space to grow professionally.
Tell us about your career path before you took a break from the workforce.
I developed my career within the automotive industry, beginning as an Industrial Engineering Intern at General Motors, Component Division. Over the following 20+ years, I gained experience with the OEM and a major tier 1 supplier. I held various roles in engineering and expanded my skill set within the supply chain management organization where I progressed prior to my break. I gained valuable experience in several roles, such as Purchasing Business Line Leader, Supplier Risk Management, Cost Planning Management, Supplier Corporate Responsibility, Quality Management System Auditing, and Business Process Leader.
Tell us about your experience in the RePower program. How do you think it prepared you to return to full-time work?
The RePower program afforded me the ability to re-enter the workforce with support from leaders of the program, Cummins Engineering Leadership and other RePower members in my cohort. The program is well organized, engaging and inclusive, making it a very positive experience.
RePower conducted a thorough onboarding process with frequent check-ins from the program Executive Sponsor and leaders, and our feedback was invited. The program’s engineering advocates are experienced team members who returned to full-time work after a break, and they shared their experiences. Returning to work with an established support system was invaluable. Because of this, I’ve been able to contribute to my organization confidently.
How has the worldwide pandemic affected you in your return to work? How has Cummins supported you during this time?
The pandemic caused the world to pivot in every aspect of our lives and created a paradigm shift on how we effectively conduct business and interact with our families.
The work-from-home directive came just five months after my start with the company. My initial concern was how I would be efficient in managing my responsibilities and building my network, as well the overall impact it would have on me as a member of the program. But ultimately, the adjustment was not a major challenge, and I actually appreciated being with my immediate family on a daily basis.
As the pandemic progressed, concern about my family remaining healthy coupled with the rise of social injustice became overwhelming. Cummins has supported us through ongoing communication from all levels of the company. Safety protocols were immediately put in place, and I have the tools necessary to conduct daily work and collaborate with team members in a virtual space. Weekly contact with management and team minimized the void of being physically present. While the volume of meetings and email increased significantly, I have received encouragement and understanding that a balance is necessary to maintain mental and physical wellness. I have embraced the practice of allocating focused-work time and meeting-free Friday afternoons.
How has Cummins supported you in your career and in your life as a woman in a traditionally male industry?
The RePower program was the first level of support Cummins offered to me, and at the conclusion of my time in the program, I was able to secure a leadership role. My team members have embraced my background and value my experience and contributions. I have observed that there are more women in technical leadership positions at Cummins than many peer companies. To ensure a feasible alignment with my position, I was guided through the process of evaluating my competencies and developing a plan to strengthen or build competencies.
As an African-American woman, I sought out an organization that is intentional about creating an inclusive environment. It has been extremely helpful to engage in forums featuring women with diverse backgrounds that are transparent and willing to share their personal career journeys. I also participate in the Women’s Empowerment Network Group, one of many employee resource groups at Cummins, and have been included in leadership development opportunities.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Take ownership of your career, and don’t be afraid to take risks or the tough assignments. Like what you do, and have fun doing it!
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