2019 Honoree

Kim Beardsley

Vice President, Worldwide Parts Service, John Deere

“There have been other times in my career where one comment, such as ‘I think you can do more,’ changed my thinking and the path of my career. I call that drive by coaching and inspiration. One comment can change everything, for the good or the bad.”

In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?

I believe a power woman is one who is confident in herself and works to develop confidence in others. We must believe in ourselves and our abilities before we can be powerful. We must prepare ourselves, commit to excellence, and not be afraid to go after our dreams.

With all the different issues one could focus on, how do you balance your efforts in pursuit of gender equality? Is it a global approach or a specific issue that you are passionate about?

I am extremely passionate about developing confidence in women of all ages. In addition to my full time position, I have championed various D&I employee groups, focused on helping women see what is possible. I am most proud of the work we have done recently, developing men as diversity partners, partnering with the new moms group on a panel with children from women in operations leadership roles, and growing our WIO (Women in Operations) employee group globally. It takes extra time to focus on this, in addition to focusing on the business, but it’s extremely important that women in leadership roles lead by example and pay it forward at all levels.

Do you believe that there is any gender specific role for women to play in the Climate Change debate?

Everyone plays a role in working to sustain our world. I don’t believe it is gender specific.

If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?

Joe Madden, General Manager for the Chicago Cubs. Why? Because I love competition, sports, baseball, and the Chicago Cubs. Joe and other general managers make split second decisions that impact the outcome of the game and, potentially, someone’s career, they must consider a longer term strategy while trying to win the game, and they must learn to face public critique. I think there is a lot of similarity with business, but my decisions are not on live tv.

Do you think that asking previous salary requirements in job interviews contributes to the pay gap between women and men?

I assume it does, but I don’t have any direct evidence of this.

NY State recently outlawed this practice. Should we push for a nationwide ban?

Previous salary information should not be required.

Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?

Growing up, I always wanted to be a high school math teacher because I was really good at math and I thought having the summers off would be great. When I met with my high school counselor to talk about college, he asked me if I had ever thought about engineering. I had good grades and my scores in math and science were very high. I had not thought about engineering and didn’t know any engineers. I told my mom about his comments later that night. She was very excited about his idea of engineering and told me that if he thought I could do it, then I should try. She doesn’t remember that conversation, but it was extremely impactful for me. I went on to graduate from engineering, and probably would not have if either of them had given me different advice. There have been other times in my career where one comment, such as “I think you can do more,” changed my thinking and the path of my career. I call that drive by coaching and inspiration. One comment can change everything, for the good or the bad.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Own your space. To me, this has meant be prepared, know your business, contribute at the table, and speak up.

There are many studies that support the idea that a female presence in the board room increases the bottom line and leads to healthier work environments. What can we do to continue to support and enhance the growth and presence of women in high profile positions?

We need more role models for the next generation. We need women, men, companies, and society to take action in moving women into these positions. If the next generation doesn’t have role models to look up to, it will be difficult to get them to see and understand the possibilities.

Is “Education, education and education” one of the top three responsibilities of a civilized society? If so, why is it prohibitively expensive? If not, why not?

I believe education is extremely important for society. I may also have a unique view. I was fortunate to grow up in a family where my mom did flashcards with me and pushed me to read a lot at a young age. I attended public schools growing up and graduated from a public university in Iowa. My parents did not have a lot of money, but they worked multiple jobs and provided us with a wonderful life. I then went on to work hard, develop myself, take career opportunities (including relocating four times in seven years with my family), and complete my MBA from Duke along the way. Bottom line, education is important, but it can come in many shapes and forms. This includes families making it a priority and providing the environment for kids to be successful. There are ways to reduce costs, such as community colleges, trade schools, public universities, etc. Education is important for society, but there is personal responsibility, as well, that must be driven into our society.

What is your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction)?

My son and I have a bit of a book club where we read spy novels (Vince Flynn, Brad Taylor). We both enjoy these books and it allows us the opportunity to connect on something we have in common. It’s our own mother-son book club. My favorite women’s leadership book is by Lois Frankel. This books talks about what women can do to help themselves and how to avoid pitfalls in business and society.

What do you most value in your friends?

Kindness. I appreciate people who are kind, humble, and enjoy the good things in life. People who are humble, kind, and don’t judge others–they work to support each other and they care. They don’t think they are better than others and truly want others to be successful. I don’t enjoy big egos.

Which trait do you most deplore in yourself?

Self-doubt–I hate it when I doubt my abilities and work hard and I’m working to not let that influence me.

In others?

Dishonesty–it is difficult to work with, be in a family, or be friends with someone you can’t trust. If people would work to pull the rope in the same direction, life would be much easier and more fulfilling.

What do you consider the most over rated virtue?

Patience is over rated. If you want something, go after it. Don’t wait to take that big vacation, for the next big job, to start a family, get your MBA, etc. There are always excuses on why something isn’t the right time, but if you truly want to make something happen, do it.

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