When Jillian Kaebel-Sisk joined Caterpillar, her business unit was led by a woman. A female leader may seem commonplace today, but this was nearly 30 years ago and Jillian’s leader was a pioneer – Sherril West, the company’s first female Vice President.
Looking back now, Jillian credits that experience in creating an environment for her to think big, take risks and aim high.
“She was open to new ideas no matter where they came from,” reflects Jillian. “Now, I see that culture of openness and collaboration permeate throughout the company. Having her as my first role model when I came into the company changed my perception of Caterpillar. You could be anything in the company because she had already blazed that trail. That gave me the courage to develop and continue challenging with new ideas throughout my career.”
With almost three decades of experience, Jillian uses those years of knowledge to solve company-wide puzzles in her role as global HR subject matter expert, helping to execute business strategy in the area of mergers and acquisitions. For each business challenge, she draws on past experience to find solutions and helps connect the puzzle pieces, bringing in colleagues with various skillsets needed to get the job done – always keeping an eye on the goal and demonstrating integrity.
She is quick to point out that how success is achieved is just as important what is accomplished.
“If we’re acquiring a company, it makes a difference in how we welcome the new people, integrate them and treat them from day one,” she said. “That can either derail an acquisition or it can help us realize the value of why we’re buying that company.”
This lesson carries forward to how she interacts with her teammates and other colleagues as well, being sure to adapt her style to how others prefer to interact.
“What it means for me is actively trying to understand the differences that make everyone unique,” she said. “It’s important to understand what people enjoy doing and what they’re good at, then go from there. We’re all going to be better off for it in the end.”
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