Chad Yagow works as Project Manager for Technology Alliances at the John Deere Technology Innovation Center in Champaign, Illinois. Yagow began his career with John Deere in the summer of 2001 at Harvester Works in East Moline, Illinois. He has worked on a variety of teams, starting off in corn head engineering. He then moved to the advanced functional group (a group that deals with all the crop-engaging functions of the combine), spending time on special projects focused on rice harvesting and biomass harvesting. In 2008, he moved to the residue management team and traveled regularly to work with colleagues located in Zweibrücken, Germany. In total, Yagow spent 11 years with Harvester Works and travelled to 15 different countries.
Today, as a project manager, Yagow said Harvester Works is one of his best customers. “I have a number of projects going on with them. Two of the projects involved helping groups find a supplier of a technology that our current supply management group wasn’t aware of. Other projects are development-type projects, where we need a partner to work with our engineers to develop a solution for a product.”
Yagow said he is managing approximately a dozen active projects. “I’m also responsible for all of the team’s metrics, reporting, and project tracking,” he said. “I worked with one of our students to develop a SharePoint site that gives us a project dashboard where we update our progress.”
Yagow encourages students to get a variety of experiences through summer internships. Yagow interned with DeKalb, Pioneer, and Harvester Works. All of those experiences provided learning moments and leadership opportunities that have been applicable in his full time positions. He also learned a lot about people. “I led a lot of field teams in my time at DeKalb, but I knew I didn’t know everything, and I was always willing to ask questions. I also did whatever job I asked my crew to do. That kind of attitude will gain you a lot of respect.”
Yagow said he has carried that attitude into the work he does at John Deere. “Working with field technicians, you get down in the dirt and mud and ‘get your knuckles bloody’, but you do whatever needs to be done to get the job done. There should never be anything that’s ‘beneath’ you. As engineers, we should always be striving to learn more.”