Jul 11, 2022

Indiana’s Best and Brightest: A conversation with Cummins’ Nicole Lamb-Hale

Nicole Lamb-Hale became Vice President and General Counsel at Cummins late last year after extensive experience as a business consultant, business attorney and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services at the U.S. Department of Commerce, a role for which she was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In her role at Commerce, she worked with U.S. industry to promote their competitiveness in global markets.

Immediately before joining Cummins, Lamb-Hale was Managing Director at Kroll, a global governance, risk and transparency consultancy; the head of its Washington, D.C. office and a fellow of the Kroll Institute, a think tank associated with the firm.

Now a Hoosier, the Michigan native talks about what drew her to Indiana, the state’s strengths and why she’s excited about the future of Cummins and Indiana.

Q: What was it about the opportunity at Cummins that appealed to you?

Lamb-Hale: I have held roles over the years working with companies like Cummins. I was a partner in two law firms where my clients were global manufacturers, and when I was in government as an Assistant Secretary of Commerce, I worked extensively with U.S. manufacturing companies that were looking to expand overseas or to generate more opportunities overseas and mitigate risk.

When my predecessor at Cummins, who I’ve known for many years, called me to tell me that she was taking on a new role at Cummins and asked me if I’d be interested in the general counsel position, it was an opportunity I couldn't refuse. The job knits together all my different experiences, so it was a unique opportunity.

As a provider of professional services, you offer advice and participate in matters with your clients, but you really don't know how the story ends. Here, I have a longer runway. It’s exciting to be able to see how your advice plays out.

I’m really excited to see how the company's strategy is advancing as it relates to our New Power technologies and our journey to zero emissions through battery technologies and green hydrogen. The opportunity we have, both from a product standpoint and an infrastructure standpoint, is really exciting. Cummins is adding value along that whole chain, and we have the opportunity to have an impact on the future by the work we are doing to address climate change.

Q: What sets Cummins apart from a culture standpoint?

Lamb-Hale: One of the things I really love about Cummins is its progressive history. It’s a 102-year-old manufacturing company that has always been ahead of the curve in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion and its involvement in the community.

Q: And what are your first impressions of living in Indiana?

Lamb-Hale: It’s been very refreshing. I’d always heard about ‘Hoosier nice’ and that has really been a reality for me. I feel like people will give you their last dime if you need it. It’s been a very welcoming environment.

And I do enjoy the diversity of the economy here. You have Cummins, you have Lilly, and there are some newcomers to the region. I think that’s refreshing and bodes well for quality of life here given the employment opportunities.

There’s a lot going on in Indiana from a technology standpoint. One of the things that we're very proud of at Cummins is our work in combating climate change. There are things we’re developing here that can be useful and really help the world in terms of the existential threats, like climate change, that are out there.

Q: Workforce issues are big in the U.S. right now. What’s your assessment of the workforce situation in Indiana?

Lamb-Hale: Technologies are rapidly evolving and impacting how we work, and it’s essential that companies like ours are working with our public and private institutions and universities to ensure that we are equipping people with the skills needed to be successful now but also for the jobs and careers of tomorrow. We have a great manufacturing workforce here. It's highly educated, and great universities educating engineers and others who are essential to advanced manufacturing. It’s a real plus to have these people who can benefit our country and the world because of the global nature of business.

Q: How can Indiana best capitalize on its various economic strengths?

Lamb-Hale: Indiana needs to continue to work to capitalize beyond just the strong business climate and also focus on strengthening our educational opportunities and continuing to welcome people from outside the state. We must show cultural openness and develop a reputation of being open. That will help to attract the kinds of businesses that will be important for the future, businesses that have a global reach.

Indiana is definitely fertile ground for investment. I think there are a lot of exciting opportunities here.

Q: You recently joined the Dean's Advisory Council at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. How is the school an asset to Indiana?

Lamb-Hale: I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m impressed with the quality of the student body and the faculty. One of the things I enjoy about my involvement with the school is its focus on the global competitiveness issues for U.S. companies and America’s role in the world.

I’m a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and I love the global affairs space, so I appreciate the opportunity to assist the Hamilton Lugar School. IU is renowned for its foreign language studies, for instance. It’s very exciting for the state to have such an asset and to have students of that caliber available to companies like Cummins.

This article was featured in the July 2022 edition of the IEDC’s newsletter. Subscribe today.