Katie Ehrke

2020 STEP Ahead Honoree

Factory Manager
John Deere

Manufacturing is a noble profession, both as an endeavor and for its results, because it requires employees to collaborate and work as a team to deliver products that enrich customers lives.

At John Deere, Katie has established tools and processes that many of the company’s factories utilize today. From implementing a strategic process that is now a roadmap for manufacturing layouts to driving the integration of local factory test resources and enterprise factory automation experts, Katie’s work has demonstrated her exceptional ability to develop global processes and build consensus engines to get them deployed across multiple factories.

In her current role, Katie is leading a growth factory with John Deere’s premier planting technology. Her work has enabled her team to reach records in quality performance while driving a 26-point improvement in employee engagement.

As a certified coach, Katie is skilled and knowledgeable when it comes to developing team members, and her engaging style makes her an excellent mentor. She doesn’t stop there, though—she champions the hiring and advancement of diverse talent throughout John Deere. In particular, she challenges women to keep moving forward in manufacturing. Through the strong relationships she has built with her mentees, Katie is recognized as a role model who instills the confidence to lead in others.

Katie is a strong and ongoing supporter of the Society of Women Engineers, which she has served in multiple roles over the years, traveling the globe to teach, learn from and network with other women in the field. Under her leadership, John Deere’s involvement with SWE has become a major outreach for the company. Katie has also been an active leader and participant in Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. At the Paton site, she has hosted a local schoolteacher as an extern to better connect the schools to the factory. And, in collaboration with IowaWORKS and a local community college, she often can be found hosting factory tours to strengthen ties between the factory and the community.