When Matthew Winings accepted a temporary transfer to the London office of global power solutions company Cummins, he knew that he was in for a challenge. But he also knew how much he stood to gain from the experience.
“It would have been easy not to take an opportunity like that and instead to continue doing what I knew best,” Winings says. “Now, I look back fondly on the time that I spent in London. There was certainly an adjustment period, but it forced me to think differently, get out of my comfort zone, and work on new and complex things.”
Once he left his comfort zone behind, Winings began to learn—about the laws, the cultures, and the businesses that he encountered abroad. His two years in the UK continue to influence his work at Cummins to this day. In his current role as senior litigation counsel back in the US, he brings a nuanced and global perspective to the matters that he oversees. Furthermore, he continues to grow his skills within the company, all while keeping a lookout for his next challenge.
Five years before he moved abroad, Winings was a new corporate counsel in the Cummins litigation group. The group’s size proved to be an advantage as Winings got his bearings. “At the time, it was a pretty small group,” he says. “That provided a lot of opportunities for people like me who were just coming on board. It was a really good introduction to the company, and it allowed me to work pretty closely with our general counsel and a lot of my colleagues internationally.”
Energized by the global projects to which he was contributing, Winings found himself getting more and more involved in litigation matters in Europe. “Our colleagues who were managing litigation around the globe had other primary responsibilities. Through discussions with my manager at the time and the general counsel, the idea came about of me working in London and taking over the litigation to free up my colleagues to handle other things,” he explains.
Before Winings knew it, that idea had become reality. He left the US for the UK in 2017. Over the next two years, he not only continued to oversee certain US litigation but also delved into new litigation, disputes, and product safety matters across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. In addition, he served as lead lawyer for the company’s generator technologies business and supported a subgroup of its power systems business.
Even as the scope of his role expanded, Winings made a point of connecting with local outside counsel as well as the leadership teams of the two businesses that he had started to advise. “Moving to a new country, there are cultural differences. And with London being a truly international city, you have people from all over the globe and from many different cultures in one place. That, and working with lawyers in different jurisdictions, gave me a greater appreciation for different ways of doing things, in both business and life in general,” he says.
“[Living in London], and working with lawyers in different jurisdictions, gave me a greater appreciation for different ways of doing things, in both business and life in general.”
Winings brought that newfound appreciation back with him upon returning to the US in 2019. Today, he seeks to remain conscious of cultural and business differences alike as he navigates international interactions and collaborations. “Cummins is obviously a global company, so we’re constantly working with people from all over the world,” he says. “The nice thing is that I still get to work with a lot of my colleagues in London. While I was there, I got to develop some really good relationships that have made my work now that much easier.”
“Matt is a unique talent,” says Joe Wendt, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg and cochair of the firm’s commercial litigation practice group. “He’s both a versatile lawyer, with deep knowledge and strategic insights in multiple areas of the law, and a great manager, consistently getting all members of his teams working in the same direction and making them feel meaningfully included.”
The COVID-19 pandemic led Winings to recognize another benefit of his experiences abroad. Whereas the majority of the company was going remote for the first time in 2020, he had previously been remote to the US-based litigation team while in London. “When I was the only one who wasn’t physically present in the US office, I had to be really deliberate about checking in,” he elaborates. “During COVID, I’ve been able to help some of my colleagues and direct reports when it comes to maintaining connections without being physically present in the same place.”
Although the pandemic has limited recent international travel, Winings has discovered plenty of ways to expand his horizons stateside. On top of his primary role in litigation, he now coordinates with the Cummins corporate quality group on manufacturing, product quality, and supplier quality issues. He also actively participates in pro bono work, including through the Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity initiative.
Between the varied nature of his role and the rapid pace of technological advancements in the industry, Winings sees it as a particularly exciting time to be at Cummins. And, just as he did with his assignment in London, he plans to make the most of whatever the future brings.
“I’ve always been someone who’s focused on education—learning, growing, developing, and improving—in all aspects of my life,” Winings says. “I want to continue being open to opportunities and taking on new challenges, just like the one that I had a couple of years ago.”