Leading in Times of Challenge with Rosalind Fox
Operations Factory Manager Rosalind (Roz) Fox has worked for 15 years at Deere, five of which have been in her most recent position with John Deere Des Moines Works. Fox’s current role focuses on team dynamics and manufacturing operations, including worksite safety. Prior to becoming operations factory manager, Fox worked for three Fortune 100 companies and several other companies across the Midwest.
Growing up in St. Louis, Fox did not grow up on a farm. At Deere, growing up on a farm is like a badge of honor and where you earn credibility. Being Black and from St. Louis, Fox felt a need to excel right out of the gate. While she had spent time at Deere in other positions within the construction forestry, HR and turf departments, she didn’t have exposure to the ag industry. She said she had to learn about the production system, including spraying nutrients, tilling soil and harvesting after coming to work for the Ankeny facility. This included having to be vulnerable enough to ask for help and learn from those around her to understand how Deere’s machines are used out in the field.
Fox touched on how it can be draining having to justify why she holds her position. While her qualifications speak for themselves (she holds a BS in electrical engineering and mathematics, an MS in industrial engineering and an MBA from Northwestern University), having to explain herself has led to imposter syndrome, leaving her feeling at times like a fraud and doubting herself. She combats this by making sure her factory does well, and the results speak for themselves. Fox’s factory has surpassed and improved on safety, quality and delivery metrics across the board during her time as manager.
Over the course of the pandemic, Fox focused on the fact that the facility needed to keep operating in order to continue to offer product to support the food supply for the entire world. Farmers still needed their machines in order to plant and harvest. The task was daunting, but Fox’s engineering background lent itself to diving into problem-solving mode. Communicating with team members on a daily basis was essential. Many salaried workers, around 450 out of 700, were asked to work remotely if their position wasn’t tied to operations and they could work from home in order to minimize risk of exposure at the factory.
Fox also discussed how she recharges after a stressful day and her favorite machine at the factory.
Find more information on John Deere Des Moines Works here.
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The Leading in Times of Change podcast is brought to you by the Greater Des Moines Partnership and hosted by Mike Jefferson. The podcast features community leaders from across Greater Des Moines (DSM). To listen to more Partnership podcasts, click here.