When a former client decided to apply to a leadership development program at his employer (John Deere) he asked for help developing an essay for the application. To write this essay I drew on my years of experience writing winning client essays to top MBA programs like Harvard Business School and Wharton. Essay and Statement of Purpose writing services are detailed on the services page.

Essay Prompts: What do you plan to gain both personally and professionally from the John Deere Leadership Development Program?

What are your long-term career objectives and how would the John Deere Leadership Development Program contribute to your attainment of these objectives?

Given your already demanding job and various important family/personal obligations, how do you plan to handle the additional demands on your time once you enroll in the John Deere Leadership Development Program?

As a Product Support Specialist in John Deere’s Mining division I bring my technical knowledge to bear on the development of new products and the refinement of existing ones. When I think about my work within the broader context of the Global Mining business, I see how my individual contribution maps on to our overarching goal to uphold the John Deere brand and reputation for excellence in the eyes of our customers.

Whether I’m participating in a quarterly meeting with a client like Smith Brothers, or responding to issues at sites in Australia, China or Mexico, I leverage my business acumen and interpersonal skills to exceed customer expectations. In doing so, relationships are built, goodwill is created and the ongoing profitability of the Global Mining division is ensured.

In the course of this project, I didn’t expect any improvements to come out of the tool servicing work stream, but in reality, that’s where we’ve seen the biggest value add.’ It felt great to learn that Larry McDougal, President of Dealer Services at Dilling Canada, was pleased with my contribution to our 588 Truck. During a quarterly meeting in 2017, dealers had lamented the fact that they were ‘losing technicians because we can’t keep up with training…John Deere machines are just too complex.

At first glance, the ratio of machine servicing hours to operating hours looks like just another metric, and a uniquely technical one at that. In fact, it’s as much a financial metric – influencing dealers’ costs and profit margins, as it is an operational one – affecting human resources and employee turnover. The question I asked myself was: Is this an engineering problem or a communication issue? In other words, did we need to simplify the mechanics of our trucks or did we need to change people’s perception of our trucks – helping them to perceive our products as more easily serviceable?

Compared to overhauling complex product specifications, altering perceptions was a quick and cost-efficient solution. Achieving that begged a second question: Should technicians receive more of the same training or should they be trained differently? I opted for the latter. Knowing that a lot of technicians are visual rather than verbal thinkers, I spearheaded an effort to supplement our text-based 588 maintenance manual with illustrations, color coding and ISO, SAE and John Deere symbols. With invaluable collaboration from our legal, marketing, engineering and graphic design teams and a modest budget of $15k, the 200-page 588 manual was transformed into a knowledge base spanning 650 pages. We’ve feedback we’ve received from dealers has been overwhelmingly positive. The consensus: Dealers want to make the knowledge base a John Deere staple.

A novice can easily hear the request a customer is able to articulate, but a global understanding of the mining business and a desire to really listen are key to deciphering and responding creatively to a request our customer hasn’t yet formulated. The 588 knowledge base project is just a small example of my desire to do just that.

John Deere’s Leadership Development Program is an exciting opportunity to deepen my understanding of the technological, safety, environmental, legal and business issues involved in mineral exploration, exploitation, and site reclamation. Beyond the academic topics covered, I believe that I’ll grow my professional network and derive a greater appreciation for issues seen through the lens of classmates from different functional areas including product, sales, marketing and engineering.

More specifically I think the Leadership Development Program will help me better understand:

  • How we can better identify customer expectations around resolution time, quality of repair, interim corrective or permanent corrective actions
  • How engineers and business people make purchasing decisions for their mining fleets
  • The intricacies of mine development and machine fleet requirements
  • How, as a company, we can make John Deere the preferred equipment supplier
  • How John Deere can deliver world-class service

I hope to leverage that knowledge in pursuing my short-term goal to lead a team of direct reports within the product division. In the longer-term, I would like to take on P&L responsibility and actively contribute to senior-level, strategic and operational decision making as part of John Deere’s global leadership team.

Any engineer will tell you that it’s the design restrictions that make their work interesting. In a similar vein, additional workload from the Leadership Development Program will require me to allocate some personal time to my studies, but, it will also allow me to overcome challenges and build character. I think that’s extremely important for both personal and professional growth.

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to review my application to the John Deere Leadership Program. I’d be honored to be one of just a handful of John Deere employees to participate in this opportunity.

About Leah Derus

Leah helps people craft stories that move their careers forward. A former Fulbright scholar with a Bachelor's in Psychology from La Sorbonne and an MBA from MIT Sloan, Leah spent the first part of her career in recruiting and marketing. Book a free consultation with Leah

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