Meet the Chairman’s Circle: Patricia Covington

Patricia Covington is the youngest of 13 children. She was born in Brownsville, Tenn., and she followed her older sister to Memphis in 1992 to attend college. She started at Memphis State University and graduated from the University of Memphis. “Memphis State University transitioned to the University of Memphis while I was a student, so I was lucky to be part of the population that got to attend under both names,” she said. Patricia and her siblings now mostly live scattered across West Tennessee. Patricia’s and her sister’s shared love for Memphis extends to the rest of the family. “When the family travels and people ask where we’re from, the funny part is, the ones who still live in Brownsville are the first to scream ‘Memphis!’ That’s evidence that as Memphis goes, so goes West Tennessee,” she said.

Patricia Covington

Patricia is executive director of the global integrated aftermarket supply chain for Cummins Inc. During her 26-year career at Cummins, she has worked in multiple areas including planning, marketing and operations.

In her current role, she’s a key global leader for Cummins. She shares her career journey as an example for underrepresented employees to know they can flourish in the right environment. In all her roles, she’s focused on attracting and cultivating the best and most diverse talent. She’s the charter executive sponsor for the Memphis employee resource groups Cummins Black Network and Women Empowerment Network. She also focuses on encouraging diverse talent through her work on the Howard University engagement team.

Patricia earned her bachelor’s in accounting from the UofM. After graduation, she worked as a materials planner in the new Memphis Distribution Center Cummins had relocated from Indianapolis. “I developed a passion for planning and logistics that caused me to change my career trajectory,” she said. “I fell in love with supply chain because of the challenges and continuous learning opportunities. It’s turned out to be the perfect career path for me.” Patricia went on to earn a master’s in human resources management from Webster University and an Executive MBA in global supply chain from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Cummins is a global power technology leader with 73,000 employees in 190 countries and more than $28 billion in annual revenue. In Memphis, Cummins has three locations and more than 1,200 employees.

Caring is one of Cummins’ core values. “That focus extends beyond internal into the communities where we live. It’s what drive corporate responsibility at Cummins,” said Patricia. “Being a part of the Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle gives us greater insight into the needs of the community and how to help. It takes a collective effort, and we want to be part of what keeps Memphis a great place to live.”

Caring is part of Patricia’s personal and professional DNA. “My dad and mom worked diligently to ensure we turned out to be great human beings with principles,” she said. “They would often say, ‘You may not be the smartest, but you will be the kindest and treat people right, fair and with respect.’” She lives that lesson through her passion for volunteering. She chairs the board for LeMoyne-Owen College and serves on Howard University’s Supply Chain Centers of Excellence Advisory Board. She previously served on the Multi-Cultural Advisory Board for the University of Memphis and has volunteered with JIFF – the Juvenile Intervention and Faith-based Follow Up – and the One Step Initiative, a nonprofit focused on education for underserved high school students. She’s also a 25-year member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Shelby County alumnae chapter.

Patricia is an introvert who loves to cook and travel with family to Destin, Fla., where her 20+ family members stay in one house. Her favorite movie is The Lion King. “The essence of that story touched my soul. Confession: I bought the soundtrack when the movie came out in 1994, and I was probably the only college kid riding around listening to Hakuna Matata on repeat. I’ve never been embarrassed about it,” she said.

And she really loves Memphis. What exactly does she love about our city? “As cliché as this sounds, everything. I love the soul of this city. I love how cultured our city is. How accommodating and welcoming we are. We are the picture of diversity – not just in nationality, but in thought and other areas on the diversity spectrum. I love that you don’t have to be born in Memphis to be a Memphian. Being a Memphian is a state of mind. I love being a Tiger and I love our Grizzlies. I’m a big basketball fan and don’t want to leave out our LeMoyne-Owen Magicians. Sharing all these details about myself feels a little weird, but if it helps the City of Memphis in some way, count me in!”

About the Chairman’s Circle: The Greater Memphis Chamber Chairman’s Circle is a group of more than 160 C-suite business leaders working to spur economic growth, develop the workforce, and improve the business climate throughout the region. Learn more about the group and its task forces here and follow the Chairman’s Circle on LinkedIn.