Diverse experiences are essential to innovation

Jodi Short’s car ride to and from work takes 90 minutes each way. This drive – both literal and figurative – is proof that she’s passionate about her work at Caterpillar, including her role as an engineering specialist in Caterpillar’s Construction Digital & Technology (CD&T) division.

CD&T is a global organization responsible for developing, executing and growing the digital and technology business for customers served by Construction Industries. The team’s mission is to make customers more productive and safe at their job sites.  For Jodi, it’s exciting work because it is innovative and combines several different areas of expertise to advance company goals.

“I have a deep technical background, but I need to rely on others who have field experience and also those who know the customer experience,” she said.  “We wouldn’t be successful if we didn’t have all of those various experiences represented.”

Diverse experiences are essential to spur innovation – especially for a team that faces new challenges every day.

“Inclusion drives results. If we have everyone being their authentic selves, and we have the best people in the right roles, the whole company functions better,” Jodi said. Even though her team is new, there’s a high level of trust because everyone is passionate about the work and wants to do the right thing. “That’s what unites our team. Everyone is trying to deliver products that bring value and help our customers.”

The must-have behaviors for success? Collaboration and communication, she says without missing a beat.

“Those sound so simple, but when things don’t work out well it’s because we made assumptions. We didn’t get enough feedback from everyone. Everyone has unique backgrounds and experiences. Everyone’s voice needs to be heard.”

This belief underpins her other professional passion – the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) Employee Resource Group, where she serves as the committee chair for the Breakthrough Leadership program.

Started in 2014, Breakthrough Leadership supports high-performing women in a male-dominated industry. During the interactive workshop, participants chart their “life map,” noting major experiences that helped define who they are today. This exercise builds a deeper understanding about the value of everyone’s experiences.

“Caterpillar can’t achieve success without high-performing teams. There’s no one person that carries the whole thing. The magnitude of the work we do requires everyone to come together and execute,” Jodi said.  “Whether it’s diversity of thought, or diversity of background and experience, you need this variety for results.”