John Deere sees women forging change through technology
Women are thriving within John Deere’s Global IT organization as manufacturing engineers and managers. While cultural norms differ in the United States, India, and Mexico, Rachel Green, Sneha Jalodia, and Michelle Monsivais [pictured above] are finding ways to succeed and lead in spaces that have long been majority-male.
Until her recent promotion, Rachel Green, who celebrated 21 years with John Deere in May 2022, led a team of 180 software engineering and supporting roles in USA, Mexico, India, and France as the Group Engineering Manager for Manufacturing Engineering. On a personal level, she is quite busy too, as a wife, mother to three active kids ages 15, 14, and 11, and as a competitive CrossFit athlete.
“My team has responsibilities for nearly all of the IT solutions that support the shop floor processes within the 60+ factories we have at John Deere,” she says.
Within the global IT organization, Rachel explains, “our customer is truly global, meaning that the same or similar solution needs exist in the factories around the world.”
If you were to tour one of these factories, you would notice television screens throughout the shop floor that guide operators through the assembly process and ensure quality. These IT solutions must get smarter as John Deere produces smarter and smarter machines. And because these IT applications are used globally, if any of these applications go down, Rachel’s team is on hand to ensure that its back up and running as quickly as possible.
Forging Change in India
As Assistant General Manager of Software Engineering, Sneha Jalodia is the first call if there is an unplanned IT outage at a factory in India. Sneha’s laptop is often glued to her hip, as she can hear from factory leadership at any hour of the day.
As one of the only female leaders from the IT Manufacturing team at the factory, she has spent years building rapport with her colleagues in the factory where she was initially considered an outsider. Some of her colleagues had never worked with a woman in her position before and openly expressed concerns over whether a “feminine figure” could manage the rigors of the jobs alongside the demands of motherhood and family life.
But Sneha took to the job like a fish would water, and now she is central to the factory operation and a key component of its success. Her husband and her kids are among her biggest cheerleaders.
Despite the flexibility that the job requires and the pressure to solve problems very quickly, Sneha loves her role. “I like, first, that you are a main point of contact for everyone. So, I am a bridge between the changes coming for the IT applications in India and I am communicating the same to our team members working in Mexico and the U.S., the product team, and beyond,” she says.
When asked what gives her purpose, Sneha says that the job is satisfying because she knows it helps keep the factory running. “It gives me a sense of pride and achievement when I see so many tractors being built year after year, and I know from within that I contributed my bit,” she says.
And when there are zero planned outages—which was the case for one of Sneha’s applications in 2021 despite numerous changes in production and a new factory set-up and engine line configurations—the accomplishment feels even sweeter.
Sneha was instrumental in implementing systems in a Pune-based facility that opened in 2020 and 2021—a process that global colleagues in United States and Mexico were not able to support in person due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. For her ingenuity and commitment to growth and learning, Sneha was recently recognized for an Apex Award, which honors Deere’s highest performers in India.
Forging Change in Mexico
Half a world away in Torreón, Mexico, Michelle Monsivais [header picture at top of article] manages a team of software engineers who are responsible for three Global IT platforms.
Michelle has had a fruitful, winding career involving different roles in IT. She even took a break for two years to raise a family, but returned because she felt John Deere was a positive and supportive place to work. Ultimately, she became one of the first female IT Team Leads and IT Engineering Managers at John Deere in Mexico.
“It is great to work in IT [at John Deere] as a woman because it's a global company, but to be honest, in Mexico, sometimes [being a female in engineering is] really complicated with the culture,” she says. As a manager, a leader, and a contributor to the Society of Women Engineers, she wants to set an example of what is possible.
“I want to inspire little ladies that are thinking about starting a career [and might be thinking], ‘Oh… engineering. Now I will never get married. I will never travel. I will never have kids,’ and I'm like, ‘Hey, I'm married. I have two kids, three dogs. I have a complete team and I travel so yeah; you can do it. If I can do it, you can do it.’”
As a leader, Michelle’s success stems from her commitment to networking, recognition, and personal relationships. While scheduling regular one-on-ones with her team is time-consuming, she insists that “if I want to empower them, if I want to recognize them, I need to know them.”
These relationships help her to trust people on her team and empower them to make the best decisions. She also wants to build a culture of listening and inclusivity that helps share best practices and learnings from team to team.
“I'm replicating the good things that are passing through the products,” she says. “I think that why I have been really successful at growing people and having [responsibility for] more products is because I'm listening. I'm actually learning, passing the knowledge, and empowering [her team members] to be honest.”
As a leader, she stays motivated because, “I'm really full of ideas about how to make things better.”
And it's eminently clear that women like Michelle, Sneha, and Rachel “make things better” and forge change in Torreón, Pune, Moline and beyond. While this mindset is critical to Deere’s success, the company's global communities no doubt reap the benefits as well.
PARTNER CONTENT: Developed in collaboration to support IWD's Women Forging Change Mission.