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Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



February/March 2010

Diversity/Careers February/March 2010 Issue

D/C and Web 2.0
Hispanic engineers
Healthcare IT
Military vets
ONR supports STEM

Tech MBEs
NMSDC in New Orleans
News & Views
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

PHD Project Walgreens
Bonneville Power CNA
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Pratt & Whitney

Diversity In Action

Navistar, Inc: mostly key hiring
this year

The company is making a special effort to appeal to women. “Like the men, they think it’s cool to see their work and product driving down the road.”

Frankie Jones, senior HR generalist:   “It’s starting to shift; now we have many women in sales and manufacturing.” The trucking industry has traditionally been seen as a "man’s world" and hasn’t attracted its full share of women. But Navistar, Inc has created a robust diversity awareness program. It not only helps women get the support they need, but also brings in applicants from an array of cultures and backgrounds.

"It’s starting to shift," says Frankie Jones, senior HR generalist. “Now we have many women in our sales organization and manufacturing areas,” she adds. “Of course there has never been anything that prevented them from applying, but until now it probably wasn’t the first thing that came to mind for them.”

Karl Knecht, director of diversity, inclusion and community affairs, notes that women as well as men are now joining the company because “It’s cool seeing their Karl Knecht, director of diversity, inclusion and community affairs: “There’s a great sense of pride.”work and product driving down the road.

“You’re not designing a cartridge for a computer printer. You know you played a role in the design of a vehicle, a school bus, ambulance, over-the-road truck or a military vehicle protecting our troops, and there’s a great sense of pride,” Knecht says.

Navistar produces International brand commercial and military vehicles; mid-range diesel engines; IC brand school buses; Monaco RV brand motor homes and Workhorse brand chassis for motor homes and step vans. It’s also a private-label designer and manufacturer of diesel engines for the pickup truck, van and SUV markets, and provides truck and diesel engine parts and service.

Jones notes that “While the economy has affected our hiring volume, we continue to hire for key roles to support the company’s growth.”

The company is hiring MEs and EEs. New engineers right out of college can enter a two-year management development program, in which participants move around the business before taking a permanent position.

The company also has a new strategy for 2010 emissions, which has opened up jobs in vehicle or truck engineering.

IT work mostly supports the businesses: structures, facilities and databases for customer relationship management, and system support using CAD and other platforms, Jones says. Professionals should have applications experience like Oracle or Hyperion Financial Management.

“As a manufacturing company, we hire manufacturing engineers who are well-experienced in automotive, engine and truck manufacturing,” Knecht says. “People in the design engineering development process are often MEs, but they could be highly specialized in combustion development or engine calibration. It depends on the specific opening.”

Skills change with the times, Knecht points out. As an example, fuel systems that used to be mechanical or hydraulic are now electronic. “The skills today are completely different. It’s a much higher-tech field than people would think.”

Navistar has informal mentoring programs for new employees, run by various business units. It also has a formal partnership with Menttium Corp for mentoring female employees.

To recruit diverse candidates, Navistar works with many diversity-focused organizations, but has recently shifted from national to local chapters of NSBE, SHPE and SWE. There’s also a company-led diesel and truck maintenance program at Chicago and Indianapolis high schools. Navistar is developing relationships with historically black colleges and universities.

The company is a strong supporter of the local Quad County Urban League and has a lot of volunteers with Junior Achievement.

New hires go through an “on-boarding” process that includes an EEO course. Navistar will augment the diversity training with an online course this year, Knecht says.

He adds that the company has revitalized its ten-year-old corporate diversity council. Last year Navistar launched an executive diversity advisory board, where business leaders from outside the company meet quarterly with Navistar’s CEO to discuss ways to move the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts forward.

“The diversity board talks about not only how to work on the talent pipeline, but how to create an inclusive culture to move people up through the organization. We want to find strong individuals that are diverse in a variety of ways,” Knecht says.

Most Navistar locations have employee affinity groups: African American, Latino and women’s. The African American group has started a series of courses to help its members develop key competencies to move up in the organization, Knecht says.

Employees also get involved in their own communities. An employee-driven program called “Promise” promotes volunteerism. Navistar has a $10,000 pool devoted to nonprofits, and by participating in Promise, employees earn votes for how they want that pot divided.

One of the company’s most significant community outreach efforts is its diesel and truck technician program, which runs in Indianapolis, Chicago and Harvey, IL. “These are economically depressed areas, and the public schools truly appreciate the support,” Knecht says. “This program provides tools that give young people the opportunity to be hired as truck and diesel engine technicians. Or they can go to college; we support promising students with scholarships.”

Employees qualify for tuition reimbursement after working six months, if their studies are focused on their current work at the company.


Navistar, Inc
Navistar, Inc

Headquarters: Warrenville, IL
Employees: 17,000 worldwide
Revenues: $11.6 billion
Business: Bus, truck, RV, military vehicle diesel engine and chassis manufacturer

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