From shaping future leaders to recognizing military employees, Summers is rewriting the HR standard at the Iowa convenience chain.
By Erin Del Conte, Senior Editor
As senior vice president of Human Resources (HR) at Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey’s General Stores, Cindi Summers oversees strategy for HR, payroll and training/development departments, driving results and innovation that strengthen the company while aligning with its goals.
Convenience Store Decisions is recognizing Summers with our HR award for her 28 years of experience in HR including 13 of those years at Casey’s, which operates more than 2,000 c-stores in the Midwest, and helping Casey’s meet its goals in creating efficiencies. These include building employee self-service capabilities and using workforce analytics to gain engagement and productivity insights.
Summers said she’s fortunate to oversee a number of strong teams of competent employees who come together to create amazing results while supporting each other.
Most recently Summers spearheaded the transition from an outdated payroll system to a human capital management system that also integrates employment eligibility, recruitment, onboarding, scheduling, etc. Casey’s eliminated paper use by 90%, converting a completely paper system for pay adjustment, employee action and recruiting to an electronic system.
“The project took about three years from selection to implementation and we are actually finalizing rollout now,” Summers said.
PATH TO HR
Summers originally set out to become a paralegal and eventually a lawyer. After college she joined an insurance firm aiming to work in the legal department, but migrated to training instead. “I loved learning new things, and then training and developing others,” she said.
Her love of training led Summers onto the HR path when she was asked to create and facilitate HR-related training topics such as sexual harassment and code of conduct.
“From there, I was hooked,” said Summers.
She worked as an HR generalist, became PHR (Professional in Human Resources) and SHRM-CP (Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional)
certified, and then turned her focus to compensation and employee relations.
In 2005, she joined Casey’s HR department, and five years later became the head of HR.
Today, Summers said she is grateful to interact with people in all facets of the business and hear incredible stories about employees.
When Summers was in high school, her grandmother worked at the local Casey’s and Summers remembers the way she would laugh and converse with customers, remembering them by their first names.
That atmosphere of employee and customer connection still exists today in every store Summers visits. “It stirs up a sense of pride for me to be a part of something she was part of,” she said.
Summers is most proud of Casey’s military recruitment efforts. Former CEO Robert Myers was instrumental in Home Base Iowa, an initiative that connects veterans to careers and resources. Summers served on a related committee and traveled on an Honor Flight with hundreds of WWII and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C. Moved by those experiences, “I worked to become creative in our environment with military hiring and recognition,” Summers said.
She learned of military challenge coin practices and implemented the program at Casey’s. Every new Casey’s hire with a military background receives a specially-designed coin with a letter from current CEO Terry Handley, presented by supervisors during a ceremony.
Summers noted the biggest challenges she sees facing HR are talent acquisition and retention.
“The qualified applicant pool isn’t as a deep as it was in the past and employees are easily lured to other companies for minor reasons,” said Summers.
In 2018, Summers is looking to become more involved in philanthropy and sharpen her ability to strategically lead while developing others to be future leaders and helping build a company that thrives far into the future.