Cummins taps into talented interns with disability

Cummins general manager (now executive director) Andrew Penca had worked with people with disability before. When he lived in the US, working with people with autism had opened his eyes to the value of inclusion in the workplace. So, when the opportunity arose for Andrew to tap into talented young people with disability through the Australian Network on Disability (AND)’s Stepping Into internships program, he took it!

Andrew was conscious of how easy it is for companies to talk about inclusive practices, but it’s putting it into play that’s most important. Or as Andrew puts it, “everybody has a game plan until they get hit”.

In the summer of 2016/2017 Andrew supervised two interns – Farha, who had worked before, and Sabastian (Sab), who hadn’t.

“When I met both Sab and Farha, I knew they were the kinds of people I needed to bring into Cummins to really challenge people’s thought processes,” he said.

The team learned a lot, and very quickly.

As for the interns, they had the chance to really impress their colleagues with their work, and they didn’t disappoint.

Farha got busy with engine data, algorithm technology, data analysis and advanced statistics. Meanwhile, Sab designed a new vehicle installation, creating two parts from scratch, and learned engineering processes. At the end of the internship, they each presented their work to an impressed team.

Both interns developed important workplace communication skills during their time with Cummins. For Farha, building her teamwork skills meant she left with a strong understanding of how to effectively collaborate and work with people.

Sab learned professional behaviours, to be more adaptable and to expect unpredictability. While Cummins made adjustments to help him deal with changes to routine, Sab also developed coping mechanisms for times when things don’t go to plan.

People from all across Cummins gained from the program, and Andrew is delighted at the impact Stepping Into has had on them all.