Emerging Global Leadership Award

Neema Nair

Cummins Inc.

For leadership that unites large teams over great distances; for trailblazing efforts in LGBTQ+ inclusion; and for helping the next generation of engineering leaders become their most authentic selves.

Neema Nair is the technical director for the design and analysis organization in the Engine Business of Cummins India. The primary function of her organization is to design and develop engine hardware for the Engine Business globally, which includes work from concept through validation, verification, and production for new and existing products. She co-leads the efforts of simulation-based product development (SBPD) for the Engine Business globally, creating the strategy and facilitating the development and usage of simulation in the product development process for medium- and heavy-duty engines.

Nair completed a B.S. in mechanical engineering at Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute at the University of Mumbai in India in 2004. She went on to earn an M.S. in mechanical engineering with a specialty in advanced fluids at the University of Louisville. She joined Cummins Inc. in Columbus, Indiana, as a combustion performance engineer in 2006. She has also completed executive education programs at Smith College — From Specialist to Strategist and Directing Innovation, designed for emerging leaders in STEM fields.

From 2011 to 2013, Nair worked on her first global assignment in global customer engineering. She was instrumental in implementing a new customer engineering organization structure globally, working with regional leaders to assess and design the organization and its processes for Cummins engines. She moved to India in 2014 to serve as the customer engineering regional leader for the entire engine business, which spanned from 3.3- to 60-liter engines. In 2017, she took on the role she holds today as the technical director for design and analysis.

Nair is a certified Six Sigma green belt, a certified safe leader for the LGBTQ+ diversity spectrum, and a team-based work systems champion. She formally leads Cummins’ India Pride employee resource group and is a strong voice challenging norms and pushing inclusion strategies forward globally.

Nair has been a member of the Society of Women Engineers since 2011, and took a major role in the start-up of SWE in India. As part of this effort, she sponsored the Cummins College of Engineering for Women’s SWE program start-up, India’s first all-woman university SWE affiliate and second university affiliate overall. She currently co-chairs the India Corporate Council, of which she has been a member since 2019. She received the WE Local ELiTE Award in 2021.

Nair has two children, an 8-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. Her spouse also works for Cummins. She loves reading, playing board games, and spending time and sharing food with the diverse people in her life.