Meet John Deeres Beth Takemoto who works in manufacturing

Meet John Deere's Beth Takemoto who works in manufacturing

 July 19, 2022

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Meet John Deere Business Unit Manager Beth Takemoto. Beth is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, and also a great problem solver. For Beth, one of the most satisfying parts of her role is seeing someone from her team, or someone she has mentored in the past, get the job they want or receive the recognition they deserve.

Beth says her career path has always been based on trying to do the best job she possibly could - in every single role - while she has always made sure she stayed true to the leadership style that works for her. "There is something that always drives me back to the factory in a manufacturing or operations role and, thanks to a lot of great mentors, I was able to understand what key roles were essential to getting the hard experiences that helped prepare me for the next role," explains Beth.

"I have a slight obsession with productivity, although it can bite me," explains Beth. "I like to multitask as much as possible, so the area I’ve been the most focused on this year is to be present in the meeting or place I am. This means I’m absolutely not on top of emails or things like that, but I am trying to make the most of the time where I am."

Humility and collaboration are key

Beth leads the Front End Equipment manufacturing business within John Deere, and enables safe production of high-quality products for the company - and there are a number of key qualities she draws upon in her role, such as humility. "You will never be the expert in everything required to lead in a business where there are folks (thankfully) who have 30+ years of experience. You need to be able to rely on them and empower the entire team to make decisions. In 2022, there are so many obstacles and if you were worried about trying to be perfect and doing it all, we would be at a standstill," says Beth. 

Collaboration is a further key quality Beth possesses. "There are so many key operators, engineers, other factory leaders that I have had to ask for help on. Not everything can be done just by sheer brute strength and those that have burnt too many bridges or don’t have people that want to follow them will be left behind.  Earlier in the year and even now, we have had to ask some folks from Davenport to help us out on key parts that our suppliers couldn’t deliver on time. They were also very busy, and could have said no, but they were able to chat with all of our team members and saved us from stopping our entire line for multiple shifts," explains Beth.

Working with a diverse group of people

Looking at projects that stick out as memorable, Beth flags the time she started out at Hagie Manufacturing which, when she started, was a joint venture and grew into a fully owned John Deere company.  

"I started out in a Quality/Manufacturing Manager role feeling very uncomfortable because I didn't have 10 years of Quality under my belt, but I was still able to utilize all the talented people around me to reduce our warranty claims by over half," recalls Beth.

"Also, it was such an interesting environment working with a diverse group of people with different skills, and working out how we could combine the best of both worlds - fast-paced and innovative integrated with process driven. Finally, it taught me to get out of my comfort zone and the importance of having confidence even if you are not the expert in an area, you can still take other strengths and utilize them to lead."

An innovative and proactive company 

John Deere is an innovative and proactive company, says Beth. "From a technology side, I have no doubt we're putting together the best plan for our equipment to best fit not only what the customer is saying they need, but also what they don’t even realize they will need. How crazy is it that we have an autonomous tractor and implements coming out? The other key factor is that leadership is very focused on every aspect of diversity, equity, and inclusion and have been for years. I truly think that if we don’t actively promote this and engage from a leadership perspective at the highest level, we will not have any traction. There is no way you could leave here without feeling connected to the community in some sense. We are building products that are helping feed the world and everyone should feel very proud to be a part of that."

Educating women to apply for manufacturing roles

Beth is a member of Women In Manufacturing global employee resource group (ERG) and knows that it is critical to continue advocating for women. "We should push and educate women to come and apply for manufacturing/operations roles, and, most importantly, support them when times get tough. It is not easy to come into a factory when its 100 degrees, work long hours during the week and weekends, and do it all while trying to be a good wife, mother, sister, daughter, etc. For me, I’m trying to balance having a 9-month-old and a 3-year-old with a dual John Deere working husband who travels for work. It is not easy no matter how you cut it and the critical factors of why it remains fun is having a great support system such as co-workers, factory leadership, and friends. Also, it’s the little things – how do you make access to the new mom’s room easy? Is there a female bathroom everywhere you need it - I’ve been on more than one factory visit where there were no female restrooms in certain buildings. How do you ensure there is representation at decision-making levels to have an inclusive environment?" says Beth.

Looking for smart and capable women 

John Deere has been around for 175 years for a reason, says Beth. "We have leaders making the right decisions and continue to hire very smart individuals. We need many more smart and capable women at Deere because we need to start shaping the world to match what our demographics are now. More women are farming, more women are managing the farming business, more women are working in the factory making the machines. We need insight into how to improve things for this critical demographic, and you can be a decision maker rather than waiting for a decision to be made for you or your daughters."

Quality family time 

When not at work, Beth enjoys time with her  family. "Free time doesn’t quite exist right now but when I take vacation – I like to spend it with my family exploring a new travel spot. I personally like running, playing volleyball, hiking, and playing tennis when I get a free moment," she concludes. 

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