Kathryn Bacon

2020 STEP Ahead Honoree

Current Products Manager Value Analysis/Value Engineering
Harley-Davidson Motor Company

It’s thrilling to watch the creative design efforts of my team become manifested into physical product ready to delight our customers.  Manufacturing also gives us the opportunity to practice continuous improvement and real-time problem solving.

Kate joined Harley-Davidson Motor Company (H-D) in 2012 as a program manager, where she skillfully led multiple cross-functional teams to develop and launch several new motorcycles. In 2018, she led her Parts and Accessories team to their best-ever launch results with improvements in the range of 20 to 58 percent for on-time delivery metrics. Because of her outstanding achievements, she has been promoted three times since her arrival.

Today, Kate is the manager of the newly formed H-D Value Analysis/Value Engineering (VA/VE) group, where she leads a team of eight engineers and designers who are responsible for identifying and executing engineering projects that improve customer value and reduce cost. Her team has completed dozens of VA/VE projects and was projected to deliver $15M worth of savings in 2019 and $20M in 2020.  By eliminating waste and driving process improvements, Kate has brought enhancements to each role she has held.

Kate continually strives to make an impact on the next generation of women in manufacturing. For instance, while volunteering at a H-D-sponsored Girl Scouts STEM event, Kate guided participants on a tour of the company’s engine manufacturing plant. Afterwards, she led the girls through a series of interactive exercises, offering firsthand insights on the dynamic world of STEM and opportunities within the industry.

Kate cares deeply about making a positive impact on the impressionable lives of young adults and aims to build their skills, character and confidence.  She enjoys volunteering at her church and has served as president of the Christian formation committee and as a catechist.  Kate personally organized and led the “Box City Homelessness Experience” fundraiser for eight years. During this overnight event, she leads a group of teens through a realistic simulation of being homeless themselves. The positive impact Kate has made on young adults through these events has been profound, deepening their level of compassion and growing their sense of civic responsibility and social justice.