With a wide range of job opportunities on offer at the Cummins plant in Darlington, PETER BARRON talks to four employees to find out why the company has a reputation as a great place to work More than a century has passed since Cummins was founded – and the company continues to look to a bright future as a global power leader.

Since lockdown, the workforce at its Darlington site has increased from 1,000 to 1,500 employees, and that growth is set to be maintained as the American-owned company continues to invest in technology, talent and diversity.

“People drive past the Darlington site every day and probably don’t fully appreciate what’s going on here and how the staff are making an impact worldwide,” says Steve Nendick, marketing communications director.

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“With the investment we are making in the site facilities, in products, and in research and development, there are great opportunities to join Cummins in a wide range of roles.

“Diesel will continue in commercial use for many years yet, and we are continuing to invest to make it cleaner and more sustainable. We are also looking to the power options for the next 100 years, such as electric and hydrogen. Cummins are a power provider of the future and an employer of the future.”

So, what’s it like to work at Cummins? Four employees give their answers:


After taking a six-year career break to have her two children, Emma Laidler was uncertain whether there would be a route back to the world of engineering – but she found it with Cummins.

Emma’s previous experience had been in the food industry, working in a range of engineering management roles for Nestlé.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Emma LaidlerEmma Laidler

Living in the North East, she was looking for opportunities to revive her career.

She applied to Cummins through the company’s Repower scheme, aimed at engineers who have had a career break for at least two years.

“After a six-year break, I was wondering ‘Who’s going to want me?’ but I wanted to find a way back,” explains Emma.

“My background was in process engineering, in the food industry, so when I applied to Cummins, I really thought it would just be useful interview experience. But, to my delight, the focus was on how my skills and experience could be applied in a different industry.”

Emma joined on a six-month temporary contract in November 2019 and, under the Repower initiative, she was given projects that were most suited to her skillset.

“I didn’t know much about engines, but the projects I worked on were stepping stones to a wider understanding of the business. It’s all about confidence building and it was a fantastic experience,” she says.

Emma, who lives at Yarm, was given a full-time contract in March 2020 and, today, she is Test Technology Leader, managing a project to build the Powertrain Test Facility.

And she has no hesitation in recommending Cummins as a progressive, caring and flexible employer.

“The Repower scheme is such a forward-thinking way of tapping into the talent of people who might not be able to see a way back. It gave me time to adjust and challenge myself,” she says.

With the needs of two children to juggle, Emma is also grateful to Cummins for allowing her to do her job while also being a mum.

“I started on a three-day week and now it’s four, but Cummins is so flexible, especially when I was home-schooling during the lockdown.

“I just feel really lucky to have joined a great company, working on major projects, so close to where I live.”


Cummins is a company that passionately believes in investing in talent, and Sean Lynas is a perfect example of that philosophy.

Sean describes himself as a working-class lad, who grew up in Newton Aycliffe, as the son of a forklift driver and a shop worker. But, having joined Cummins as an apprentice technician in 1988, he has travelled the world.

His first ambition while studying for his GCSEs at The Avenue school, in Aycliffe, was to be a draughtsman because he loved technical drawing.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Sean LynasSean Lynas

“I applied for lots of jobs with engineering companies, and got lots of rejections, but I was lucky that Cummins saw something in me,” he recalls.

“What I remember from being that age is that there were certain firms with a reputation, so that friends and family would say ‘Oh that’s a good company’ when you mentioned their name – and Cummins was one of them.”

The investment in Sean’s future began when he was sent to Darlington College to study for his Ordinary National Certificate (ONC), and at 18 he progressed to Leeds Metropolitan University to start a four-year engineering degree programme.

That was followed by a master’s degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering, which was mainly based at Durham University, but also a collaboration with other North East universities.

Throughout his studies, he also returned regularly to Darlington to gain experience in a range of departments at Cummins, and ended up spending three years in product engineering.

After that, he was lured into sales marketing, spending seven years as an account manager until, in 2003, he was made an executive, interacting with distributors around the world.

Five years later, he was asked by the Distribution Unit to move to Prague to take responsibility for engine sales in Eastern and Central Europe.

The next big move came in 2012 when an opportunity arose to go to Singapore to manage the engine sales hub for South East Asia and some elements of North East Asia, mainly focusing on the marine business.

Sean returned to Darlington in 2016 to take up his current role as Global Sales Director for Mining Original Equipment Manufacturers. He now lives in Darlington with his wife Jacqueline, a mental health nurse, and their two children Eleanor, 18, and Luke, 14, but still travels round the world.

“When I started as an apprentice, I never imagined I would be where I am today. In the 34 years I’ve been with Cummins I’ve been to every continent and been given so many opportunities to develop personally and professionally,” he says.

And, despite all he has already achieved, Sean’s development is continuing, with him taking part in a number of leadership development modules in recent months.

“Cummins is having great success today and has great prospects for the future. It’s a company that rewards you well and it’s a real family environment. People are encouraged to collaborate, there’s broad diversity, and everyone has a voice,” he adds.

“I’d encourage anyone to come and embrace the opportunities at Cummins, not just in engineering but all kinds of disciplines, including human resources, finance, and quality control. With apprenticeships and graduate schemes, it’s a huge runway for personal development that will take you as far as you want to go.”


As a recent recruit to Cummins, Jess Highfield is proof that you don’t have to leave the North East to have a fulfilling career with a world-class company.

Jess, who was raised in the Stockton area, is thrilled to have joined Cummins as Communications Co-ordinator, based at the company’s Darlington site.

“Cummins is such an iconic North East company that is making an impact globally, so I was really buzzing to get the job,” says 25- year- old Jess.

“I’ve driven past the site so many times without fully appreciating how much goes on there.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Jessica HighfieldJessica Highfield

“I was blown away to find out the range of products that come out of Darlington, and how they help power all kinds of vehicles all over the world.”

Jess was a secondary and sixth form student at Conyers School, at Yarm, before studying for a degree in Broadcast Media Production at Teesside University.

After graduating in 2018, she then completed a masters in Multi-Media and Public Relations.

While studying for her masters, she undertook a graduate role with the communications team at North Yorkshire County Council and was promoted to become Communications Special Projects Officer, mainly supporting the authority through the Covid-19 pandemic and devolution.

“It was a challenging time, mainly working from home for two years, but it was invaluable experience to be involved in such important areas,” she says.

After that, she was looking for a new challenge and friends who worked for Cummins always spoke highly of the company as a great employer.

“The Communications Co-ordinator role came up and I was thrilled to get the job. In the short space of time I’ve been here, it’s proved to be a fantastic place to work.

“Everyone’s so friendly and supportive and I just feel privileged to work for such a major company so close to home,” she says.

Jess reports directly to Plant Manager Craig Thomas, with a remit to raise the company’s profile in the community and to enhance internal communications across the whole site.

Her experience in dealing with so many stakeholders at a large county council is proving invaluable in co-ordinating communications over the various departments of such a large manufacturing complex.

“With Cummins continuing to grow, and such a vast range of roles involved at the site, it’s a really exciting time to be here,” she adds.

“I’m proud to have grown up in this area, and it shows that you don’t have to go away to work for an employer that’s truly world-class.”


Vince Harrod was born and raised in Darlington, so he takes understandable pride in having a strong voice in the way such an important local employer looks after its employees and invests in the future.

As assistant full-time convenor for Unite, he takes part in weekly meetings with higher and middle management, and has no doubt that the union has played a vital role in Cummins’ success.

“I see myself as a custodian who wants to look back and say I played a part in leaving Cummins in a better position than when I arrived,” he says.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Vince HarrodVince Harrod

After leaving Branksome School, Vince got a job as a diesel fitter, then worked in various trades, before getting a temporary contract with Cummins as an assembly operator in 1997. When the contract ended, he spent a year working as a carer in a nursing home, but then returned to Cummins.

“The attractions were that the terms and conditions were good, along with the cleanliness of the plant compared to other places I’d worked. It’s just on a higher level,” he adds.

Vince became a union representative in 2007 and has worked with the company to maintain good terms and conditions for employees.

“It’s a place where the management and the union work together for the greater good. Of course, there are challenges, but we try to work through them together as we did in the pandemic, and Unite has had a big influence on investment at the plant.

“The unionisation of the company is part of its strength because, if you are going to attract and retain the best people, you have to have good terms and conditions, and we will do our utmost to improve them.”

Vince’s son Rik also works for Cummins as an assembly operator in the marine division and, as a result, is now buying his first house.

Vince says: “It’s a really important employer for Darlington and the money earned here goes back into the local economy. It’s on our doorstep, and the people of the town should be proud of the role Cummins plays around the world.”

• To find out about vacancies at Cummins, go to www. cummins-uk.jobs/darlington/none/gbr/jobs/

• Cummins is a partner in The Northern Echo’s ‘Level Up North East’ campaign. Any businesses interested in becoming a partner in the campaign should contact Ryan Fenwick at ryan.fenwick@localiq.co.uk

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