Erika Williams
Manager Cotton Manufacturing
John Deere Des Moines Works

“Manufacturing is the place where our customer needs, supply chain, product design and process engineering come together to make awesome products. I love being able to work together with a diverse group of individuals to figure out how to be successful together.”

Erika Williams leads an organization of 200 individuals in machining, welding, assembly and shipping. In 2018, Erika delivered new levels of productivity. For example, the factory had goals to achieve a 3 percent core productivity improvement in FY 2018, yet Laura’s team delivered a 9.7 percent improvement. In the large assembly line, Erika took a low-performing team to a team that delivered 6 percent productivity. When machining reached capacity due to growing customer demand, Erika and her team worked to staff their areas for three shifts. Erika’s focus on onboarding new individuals and her close work with maintenance to improve uptime have allowed her to deliver at-capacity production with improved productivity.

A seasoned mentor, Erika enjoys mentoring salaried employees on navigating difficult conversations, career planning and communication skills. She also works with production employees to identify potential career paths, hold mock interviews, and review and refine their resumes in preparation for both internships and moving from production to salaried employment. 

Erika works extensively with John Deere Des Moines Area WomenREACH, where she has served as lead, steering committee member and vice chair. There, she has organized professional development and outreach events to enrich and develop the personal and professional skills of over 400 employee members in the Des Moines area. With her co-leads, she has developed a monthly professional development topic rotation, bringing in individuals with different backgrounds and business diversity to share their experiences and develop the business acumen of others.

As a member of John Deere’s Women in Operations, Erika has worked with others across Iowa and Illinois to attract middle school and high school girls to careers in the STEM fields. She also serves as a leader for her church’s 4-H Club, helping K-3 children develop their skills in STEM, citizenship, communication and healthy living. 

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