Five years into a successful career with John Deere, Tanya Higgins began looking for a way to “tie the bow on the package” of her professional goals. That desire led her in 2004 to the Master of Engineering Professional Practice (MEPP) program.
Since graduating from MEPP in 2006, Higgins has received an impressive five promotions in six years with John Deere. “I already had my undergraduate schooling as a solid foundation and my career experiences as building blocks,” says Higgins, a 1994 materials engineering graduate of Youngstown State University. “What I needed was a way to tie it all together to help me make the transition from executing the ideas of others to communicating my ideas to others and inspiring their engagement. MEPP helped me develop that.”
Higgins, who is quality deployment manager in the John Deere Agriculture and Turf Division, works in an increasingly global network of colleagues that relies heavily on virtual interactions. She focuses on deploying common quality processes and tools, identifying and developing key quality leadership skills and talent, and tracking and improving the company’s quality metrics. One of her career highlights was presenting in 2008 to the John Deere CEO and board of directors.
“Tanya exemplifies all the qualities of a proven, respected, confident young leader,” says Engineering Professional Development Professor and Chair Phil O’Leary. “She is widely regarded as an early career leader and rising star at John Deere.”
She shows that same leadership outside the workplace as a mentor for women in engineering. She serves in the John Deere Women REACH (relating, enriching, achieving, challenging and helping) organization. Higgins’ REACH subcommittee, based in Waterloo, Iowa, helps women engineers network, develop their leadership skills and interact with company leaders. Her work with the local United Way Women’s Philanthropy Connection has provided opportunities for students at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo to pair with corporate mentors who help with everything from resume writing to choosing the right career path.
“I have been fortunate to have some very strong women mentors in my own career that I have gone to for advice and feedback and their support has been invaluable,” she says. “I feel that I need to take what I have learned from them and share it with others.”
Higgins is married to Ronald Higgins, a 2004 MEPP graduate and also a John Deere employee, and has two daughters, Peyton, 16, and Reese, 13.