Monday, June 11, 2018

Member Profile Beau Cummins: A Career of True Value

  Xan-Rhea Bilal
 Written by: Xan-Rhea Bilal
Program Intern, World Affairs Council of Atlanta
Student, Georgia State University
Published: 6/11/2018
 Beau Cummins is the co-chief operating officer of SunTrust Banks, Inc where he leads the Wholesale division and loves it. He has had an eventful career in banking and the past year and a half is no exception. In February 2017, he was named Wholesale division Executive, bringing to bear his years of experience as head of both SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and  head of Commercial & Business Banking also at SunTrust. When asked about his numerous positions at SunTrust and other financial institutions, he makes sure to always emphasize the importance of clients and, their relationship to the financial team. Understanding the needs of clients with business models of various sizes and pairing them with SunTrust team members best equipped to meet these needs, are how Mr. Cummins says Wholesale delivers on SunTrust’s purpose of “Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being”. 
When asked about how clients are looking to grow their businesses here in Atlanta, Mr. Cummins stressed the human aspect of company development, saying that the “ease of business is more than taxes or regulations – it’s can I hire or attract smart workers? Can I ship my goods easily? Can my workers and clients get to the office easily?" He went on to also mention the fact that Atlanta is indeed a pro-business, international city with a lot of opportunities and room for growth. This is thanks to our community leaders—lawmakers included-- that have incentivized companies from both the U.S. and abroad, to have their headquarters in Atlanta. There is still room for improvement however, Mr. Cummins points out that improving investment in education, transportation and, infrastructure is central to Atlanta’s growth and competitiveness. SunTrust has supported this through its involvement in the revitalization of the Westside and Ponce City Market.   

Given that global finance is so interconnected, Mr. Cummins strives to always be ahead of the curve in ensuring SunTrust clients have the tools to succeed in the global market. “I wake up every day making sure we have a competitive advantage”, he says. SunTrust does this by looking at innovations not only in the financial sector but, in all industries. One great way that Mr. Cummins has found to drive innovation is through dialogue; that is where the World Affairs Council comes in. Beau Cummins is a board member for the World Affairs Council he says because, the council challenges how many think about global issues along with driving professional development and enrichment. He personally enjoyed programing on the role central banks play in the integrated North American economy and, hearing from the Central Bank of Mexico about how they stimulated economic growth. The Council provides a rare environment for people from various industries and walks of life, from students to CEO’s, to converge in one place and share perspectives on current and relevant issues. He finds that this is a significant way to not only strengthen SunTrust's Wholesale division, but also to enhance the Atlanta community through positive and informative conversations. 
As one of these lucky students that get the opportunity to participate in the Council, I asked Mr. Cummins what advice he had found most meaningful when starting a career, the answer I received was simple but quite profound. “Whatever you’re doing you need to know why." This purpose, he says is “a key element of a successful career, finding something you are passionate about, which will allow you to be authentic." Mr. Cummins believes this is what SunTrust does by Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being; enabling people to find the true value of their endeavors, whether it is buying a house or getting a degree. It is apparent that Beau Cummins loves what he does, but when he is not working towards realizing the SunTrust purpose, he also enjoys nature and is an avid snowboarder.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Intern Interview featuring Michelle Nunn

Michelle Nunn Interview Article
Written by KaRa Lyn Thompson, Spring 2018 Program Intern
Pictures of women and children from around the world accompanied me as we waited for the interview. We saw a baby boy being pushed around and hugged by people in the office. The orange walls filled me with joy. It was a normal day at CARE USA.

Except it wasn’t a normal day for me. That Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to have an incredibly insightful conversation with CARE President and CEO, Michelle Nunn. Our conversation touched on her inspirations, CARE, change movements, and of course, Atlanta. She has spent over a decade being a leader in the nonprofit arena. Her impact on the world and the community have shown through her dedication to organizations with great purposes. I was curious about how she got to the seat in front of me.

“I had the opportunity to volunteer when I was in high school and found great meaning and purpose and excitement from that experience,” said Nunn. “I always thought I would do something public service-oriented.”

It didn’t hurt that she had parents with civic and political backgrounds. She felt that it was her natural path. At 23 years old, Nunn helped start Hands on Atlanta which focused on matching volunteers to community projects. From her position titled “Glorified Executive Director” to CEO of another nonprofit, Points of Light, she found herself loving leading organizations.

“I have just been really fortunate to be a part of organizations and what I think of as change movements that have been incredibly rewarding and gratifying and energizing,” Nunn reflected.

Change movements are happening all over the world and CARE is playing a crucial role in spreading the messages. For example, the #MeToo movement has reached the red carpets as celebrities stand in solidarity to fight against sexual harassment. As mentioned in her Time Magazine article, Nunn wants to help create a broader platform for those who may not have as loud of a voice.

“There are many places in the world that people still believe that it is okay to demand sex from people who work for them,” stated Nunn. “Many people still don’t necessarily understand the issue around gender-based violence in the workplace and full equality.”

To fight this inequality, CARE conducted a survey in eight different countries to gather information and opinions about sexual harassment at work. The majority of respondents said that they were hopeful that the #MeToo movement would actually change things. At the beginning of May, CARE began the #ThisIsNotWorking campaign to take the energy of the movement and create a lasting impact.

“Our job is to work in partnership with them so that they can lift up their voices,” said Nunn when asked about how CARE deals with the differing cultural norms that women face all over the world. “I think change is most powerful when it is coming within communities.”

The power of local communities in creating lasting change is imperative. CARE understands this dynamic and uses it to strengthen local communities in where it works. In 2017, CARE began an initiative called Scale X Design which supplies the resources and abilities to turn innovative ideas into reality. By inviting teams from all over the world to participate in the cohort, the idea must be able to help at least one million people. Nunn mentioned that although you can’t quantify everything, CARE uses intermediate benchmarks and standards to help move toward their goals.

While focusing on local change, I wondered how mutually beneficial the relationship was between CARE and Atlanta. After moving its headquarters from Manhattan to Atlanta in the 1990s, CARE has been around through years of changes in the community. However, being an Atlantan herself, Nunn felt there is a unique aspect that Atlanta has to offer.

“The vibrancy and dynamism of Atlanta’s civic leadership has been a really rich place for CARE to locate,” said Nunn.

This civic community paired with the boosts in economic opportunity help shape the future for Atlanta. CARE has recently received funding that will aid in the development of a Global Innovation Hub in which the organization will provide a space for social entrepreneurs to collocate. As CARE continues to be a leader worldwide, they also do their part in the local community.

Nunn recalls the uniqueness of Atlanta’s position as a leader in global public health and development and enjoys participating in the Council’s Annual Global Health Summit in which major players in the community get together to discuss the topic. CARE was represented in 2017 by Michelle Nunn.

“I think that we have underutilized that ecosystem and those set of assets as a city,” said Nunn. “I hope that we can increasingly find ways of challenging ourselves and our institutions to both recognize, build upon and extend our reputation as the Global Public Health capital of the world.”

The World Affairs Council of Atlanta will be hosting the 2018 Global Health Summit on September 17, 2018. We look forward to everyone joining in discussion of one of Atlanta’s many assets and continue to #MakeATLGlobal. We want to extend our gratitude for Michelle Nunn and CARE for this opportunity to interview her and hope to see you all at the Annual Summit.