Hear about Sofia Fernandezs career path within John Deere

Hear about Sofia Fernandez's career path within John Deere

 September 06, 2022

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John Deere has many talented women working within its ranks.

Sofia Fernandez is an impressive female employee who thrives in her role, draws on a wide range of competencies, and supports and inspires further women to achieve at John Deere.

Below we learn more about Sofia and her responsibilities and motivations, and we hear about her career path to date.

Motivated by opportunities that lie ahead

Sofia Fernandez is Safety Competency Lead for John Deere and works from the company's world headquarters in Moline, Illinois.

She describes herself as being quite a perseverant, approachable, and adaptable person. She's motivated by the opportunities that lie ahead within John Deere's changing environment, and is always open to change, improvement, learning, sharing, and being a better employee, manager and person overall.

An engineering background within John Deere

Sofia started out her career as an individual contributor, working as a Materials Engineer in one of John Deere's units in Mexico. In less than two years, there was an opening in the environmental group, and Sofia was invited to participate and at the time was studying her master’s degree in environmental engineering. That was the beginning of her career in Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS).

Focusing on the environment, and health and safety

After around eight years in the same position, Sofia had the opportunity of embarking on an international assignment in the United States with the corporate EHS team. Then when returning to Mexico, Sofia was offered the EHS regional manager position for Mexico. "That was a huge jump in my career. After working in the environmental team at one unit, with no direct reports, I moved to a regional role, with environmental, health and safety responsibility for over nine sites, with direct reports from each site," comments Sofia.

Sofia's next opportunity was moving to a corporate role where she was responsible for EHS shared services. That role evolved through the years, with increasing areas of responsibility. 

Managing safety within the company

After several organizational changes in the function, Sofia is now currently working in corporate safety as a manager of the safety competency group.

"As manager of the safety competency group, my team provides technical support at the corporate, regional and unit level in Industrial Hygiene, Ergonomics, Systems, Metrics, and any other strategic and tactical initiatives and processes related to safety management systems and safety standards," explains Sofia. "Some of the main skills I need to use regularly in my role are decision-making, strategic thinking, collaboration, effective communication, using a global perspective, and talent development."

Leading strategic planning

One of Sofia's favorite projects that she has worked on to date is from several years ago. Sofia had the opportunity to lead the strategic planning process one of John Deere's functions. "The project represented an outstanding opportunity for networking, learning, and my professional growth," attests Sofia. "I met people on the corporate strategy and corporate communications groups who helped me understand the John Deere Strategy that had been launched recently, and to ensure our strategic plan was aligned with the company strategy. I interacted with leaders within the function who I had never met before, and I didn't have an understanding of their roles and responsibilities. I led the effort of deploying the strategic plan, and sharing it with stakeholders."

A varied and rewarding role 

For over two decades, Sofia has been able to learn, grow and meet many people as part of her work at John Deere.

"My current role provides a great balance of different activities, and it is this that makes it very enjoyable and inspiring," suggests Sofia.

In her current role, Sofia covers areas like strategic and tactical activities, development and continuous improvement of corporate processes, supporting business units in specific topics, managing ten direct reports, and being part of the corporate safety leadership team. 

Encouraging more women into roles like Sofia's

"Continuing the effort of having diversity in candidates and interviewers is a step in the right direction," explains Sofia. "Additionally, we all enjoy seeing people like ourselves as role models, and we're inspired seeing them in leadership positions - so having diverse role models to reflect all groups is key. Having a Latino woman in a corporate safety position is encouraging, not only for women but also for men from regions outside the United States. This reinforces the message that leadership opportunities are open to anybody."

Advice for women looking to join John Deere

Sofia's advice for women looking to work for John Deere is that "John Deere is a great company to work for."

"From its higher purpose to feed, clothe, and shelter people around the world, to the organizational culture and increased emphasis in diversity, equity and inclusion, John Deere’s stability and competitive jobs and salaries is a true testimony that the company is here to stay and is stronger than ever," says Sofia.

Enjoying her well-earned downtime

And finally, when Sofia is not working, she has a number of favorite ways to spend her free time.

"I try spending my free time with my husband and two kids as much as possible, playing games (I love the board game Ticket to Ride!), watching movies, and doing activities outdoors. I also love doing puzzles like jigsaws, crosswords and Sudoku, and watching cooking shows. My husband makes fun of me saying that it would be great if I would put in practice just a very small portion of what I see in those programs!" laughs Sofia.

Work for John Deere and enjoy a varied career

Looking for a career that matters? Looking for an opportunity that leads you in new and exciting directions?

Consider applying for one of the many exciting jobs with John Deere.


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