John Deere Mary Bergstrom

Engineer Mary Bergstrom, a John Deere Factory Manager, forges advancement

Women have long been the backbone of communities.

Mary Bergstrom can be considered a positive advocate for a demographic empowered more than ever. She’s pushing the narrative of strong, independent women even further. The John Deere factory manager in Paton USA reached a historic milestone in 2020, becoming just the fourth woman in the local factory’s history to reach her level. It’s a win for women everywhere. It’s a tribute to a strong support system, making the correct career decisions and extending connections with co-workers.

In an article for The Jefferson Herald, Mary discusses her career at John Deere, showcasing how she's pushing the narrative of strong, independent women even further into the new age.


A successful career in the agriculture industry 

Mary set her initial goals high when she first began working for John Deere.

Agricultural has been in Mary's blood since the day she was born. She graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in mechanical engineering, encouraged by her formative years on a farm outside of Boxholm. The evolution of technology and the importance of agricultural certainly wasn’t lost on her.

John Deere’s impact on the Paton community continues to play a vital role, employing 150 persons. Bergstrom hopes to expand the company’s reach even further as she settles deeper into her new role, which she began in 2020. She started as a full-time manufacturing engineer in the Des Moines facility. She then transitioned into a quality engineer role, which led to further project management and a supervisor role in the John Deere engineering department.

“I’ve spent most of my career supporting the factory on the shop floor,” says Mary who has been with the John Deere Paton facility since 2015. She started as the manufacturing engineering manager, responsible for processing and the factory engineers. After a while, she took on a role as operations manager. Then, she was promoted to factory manager, leading the charge for millions of women like herself.

“It’s a little overwhelming, a little bit,” says Mary. “If you think about this role specifically, we’ve had three women factory managers prior to me. There’s a little bit of pressure that comes with knowing that I have all of the terrific work that they’ve done before me.”

Mary is married to a farmer, and together they have three boys. The oldest is a freshman in high school. She feels her career sets an example for her children as they continue to mature and establish relationships with women.

“I hope my boys know that and recognize that with what I’ve done with my career, and what I’m doing, that any girl, any woman they meet has the ability to do all of that as well,” says Mary. “My role is very much supported by what I have at home. My husband’s very supportive, and I want my boys to recognize that they can have a career and hopefully, their spouse can feel just as supportive as I do in their career as well.”

Mary has witnessed a culture shift during her career, with women empowering each other while simultaneously securing some of the more high profile positions available. It’s been a long-time coming, and John Deere has embraced the movement.

“When I started my career, there definitely were women in supervisor roles, but maybe just not as visible,” reflects Jane. “It’s pretty amazing to see the change. Additionally, there we have employee resource groups that have really expanded the network. Any women that are interested in engineering, there’s a national organization Society of Women Engineers, and John Deere has its own group internally that is also affiliated with the Society of Women Engineers. We have a women's reach group, so they can reach out and network with one another and learn things around the company.”

While Mary doesn’t necessarily possess a large swath of lofty goals, she is attentive to the opportunity at hand. She’s poised to lead the Paton factory into the next stage. “This is my tenure, it’s my time to make sure that this factory, we’re heading the right direction,” says Jane. “There was a lot of pride coming in and knowing that this is a responsibility that I was allowed to have the opportunity to take on.”

Jane's role as factory manager requires her to make sure operations are running smoothly. She’s connecting the workers with the products and the customers, helping everyone reach a specific level of satisfaction.  “I’m making sure that the products are built to the highest quality standard,” she says. “Making sure our folks that are working here are doing so safely, and they feel supported and are efficient.”

Jane can be considered a pillar of success for those growing up in small communities, or children who once struggled to make ends meet. Her achievement demonstrates that, at times, hard work may be well rewarded.

“All in all, it comes down to, and I’m speaking to anyone, boys and girls alike, if you have a desire with big ambitions, they’ll get you there,” says Mary. “Absolutely have those dreams and ambitions, be that in the role that you’re in, or in the job that you’re in, give 110 percent to what you’re doing. Put in the effort to knock it out of the park. It will be noticed. If you’re supporting all of the groups that you need to, you’re going to gain that knowledge that you’re going to be able to carry with you into those future roles.”

PARTNER CONTENT: Developed in collaboration to support IWD's Women Forging Change Mission.

Join the IWD Community