Since 1837 John Deere has operated in the agricultural sector. Headquarters out of Boksburg oversees the entire Africa and Middle Eastern Region. Because of the company’s core values; integrity, innovation, quality, commitment and great culture, John Deere stands out in the industry.
They are extremely proud of the level of customer service and openness of their company and strive to maximise uptime and minimise downtime. John Deere has a warranty system that distinguishes them from others. With a global footprint and strong dealer network presence, customers can get parts around the clock and keep their businesses running without interruptions for any reason.
There are many unique qualities that John Deere can offer the industry, and women in John Deere can serve as role models for other women who want to succeed in the workplace and show that new traditions can be established. The retired Kerrie Keeler was the first female Managing Director of the Australian Branch, being a trailblazer for women in leadership roles for decades in John Deere, paving the way for many others to follow.
At John Deere’s Boksburg headquarters, Lerato Mashiloane serves as Parts Warehouse Operations Manager. She is the company’s first female warehouse manager. A total of 87 000 different parts are under her watchful eye. Lerato explains, “I am responsible for the daily shipping of 16 000 lines and ensuring that all of our dealerships are satisfied with the quality of their products across Africa and Middle East.”
Christa Burger is the first woman ever to hold the position of Territory Customer Support Manager for John Deere Africa Middle East. She maintains communication with manufacturing facilities regarding technical problems and potential solutions.
Janalize van Buuren is the first woman to hold the position of Director (Africa, Middle East, India, Asia Pacific) of Aftermarket and Customer Support; a position she holds with pride. She was also the first woman to hold the positions of Divisional Sales Manager based in Kenya, responsible for front-line equipment sales in sixteen East and Central African countries, and Territory Sales Manager in South Africa.
These women serve as shining examples of how it is possible to defy the gender norm and hold positions of leadership previously occupied by men. “We are the first of many women in our company, but certainly not the last, to break gender stereotypes. If you want to judge my performance, look at my output and results, not at my gender,” says Janalize.
Janalize asserts: “John Deere places a high priority on diversity, equity, and inclusion as a business strategy. It serves to improve and enhance their employees, as well as the industry and agricultural sector.”
Christa believes that women bring diversity that can be beneficial to the sector: “It is common for us to take greater responsibility for our work and strive to prove that we earned our positions through hard work.”
“When it comes to their work ethic and ability to care for others, women offer the best of both worlds,” says Janalize.
Lerato points out: “Being managed with empathy is a new concept for many of my co-workers in the parts warehouse I manage. I can help them to grow because of our mutual respect, our dedication to the organisation, and by bringing a nurturing aspect to the table.”
“The agricultural sector is still male dominated, but this should not deter women from pursuing a career in this field. Women will be treated equally in this industry if they are willing to put in the time and effort needed to succeed,” Christa pointed out.
Christa says that no one should get stuck in a sector, but that every woman who has the potential and drive can grow in the company, and they should keep pushing the boundaries. Both men and women are expected to contribute equally, even though those who work harder tend to rise to the top of their fields more quickly.
In December, John Deere launched an internal women’s mentoring programme, which allows female employees from different departments across the globe to network and share ideas. This programme was designed to create a woman-to-woman mentoring space where females in leadership positions guide those in other positions or simply teach each other about different divisions within the company.
According to Christa: “It is easier for women in agriculture to connect with each other now that there are more women in leadership roles, especially in technical support.” Because of this, John Deere’s support for its customers can be enhanced to a different level.
“You can do anything you set your mind to”, and “You are exactly where you are meant to be,” are phrases that have been coined by Christa and Lerato to serve as inspiration and motivation for other women. As Janalize puts it: “We belong.
Contact or visit your nearest dealer today to discuss the various options offered by John Deere. John Deere has a solution for every farmer. The full John Deere experience includes our product solution, financing, parts supply, and technical support, and do not be surprised to receive that service from a well-trained, trailblazing woman!