Group President Denise Johnson and Vice President Tana Utley were both recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business magazine as 2019 Notable Women in Manufacturing. Denise and Tana, along with the many talented women in manufacturing at Caterpillar, are making a positive impact on our industry.
Read what these leaders had to say about being part of the exciting industries we serve and how they stay focused on business results with inclusion as an enabler.
Q&A with Denise Johnson, group president of Resource Industries since 2016
Why do you think inclusion is important to our future business performance?
When I meet with customers, one of the top things on their mind is technology and how they can use technology to achieve better performance at the site – no matter the site. For us, this translates to having the best team to deliver these solutions. As we develop our future pipeline, we are actively recruiting top talent – the goal is to find the best talent and attract them to Caterpillar versus waiting for them to find us. Once they are part of the Caterpillar team, it is our role as leaders to intentionally develop all employees to truly maximize their strengths to ensure we are sustainable for the long-term. By listening to ideas and challenging the way we have done things - we can achieve greater results.
What is the most exciting thing about leading Resource Industries?
The most exciting thing is partnering with our customers. Our customers work in some of the most remote, rugged conditions, running 24/7 to meet the world’s growing needs. The mining industry continues to look optimistic for the future.
Whether customers are looking for surface or underground mining solutions, discovering the benefits of autonomy and automation, or using our load and haul machines in quarry and aggregate applications – it’s a great time to talk growth and how we can support our customers with our services.
Our teams are designing and manufacturing high-quality components and machines, developing the latest technologies and implementing Lean and supply chain excellence – all of this definitely makes me feel proud to be part the Resource Industries team!
Q&A with Tana Utley, vice president of large power systems division since 2014
The Large Power Systems Division experienced a lot of growth in recent years. How have you lead the team through this change?
The only constant in business, as in life, is change. So if we’re going to survive or, better yet, thrive then we need to be good at change. We serve global, cyclical industries and therefore must perform well over a broad range of economic conditions. We model these conditions and establish performance goals with accompanying actions plans so that we can respond quickly to changing trends.
Every change brings an opportunity to perform and unveils room for improvement. I’m also a firm believer in the power of continuous improvement. We set multi-year continuous improvement goals, define action plans, and measure ourselves against those targets. We ground our goals in economic realities and the competitive environment with a focus on continuous improvement and winning. Consistent communications regarding our direction, our actions, and our rationale helps to bring the team along.
Every industry needs innovation to keep moving forward. What’s been one of the biggest areas where you’ve focused on finding innovative solutions?
Innovation is driven by the most demanding challenges. The most demanding challenge for heavy duty diesel engines over the past 25 years has been exhaust emissions regulations. The stress created by developing a solution to meet the difficult regulatory requirements while simultaneously improving product performance has driven us to become serial innovators. We’ve become good at innovating on a timetable and on behalf of the customer.
As the most recent round of diesel exhaust emissions reductions are now complete, yielding an over 90% reduction in regulated emissions and improved product performance as compared to the start of our emissions journey, we are working towards the next horizon of value for our customers. Our innovators are focused on expanding the fuel flexibility of our products, further improving owning & operating costs, expanding our solution sets, and increasing the breadth and depth of our customer service offerings.
Innovation starts and ends with the customer, even if the middle part of finding the solutions is a little messy and a lot difficult!
You’ve been recognized in the past for your role in manufacturing. What do you think has helped you to be successful in this industry?
The key to being successful in any industry, in my opinion, is congruence – aligning your values and personal value proposition with those of the business you choose to pursue. Strong alignment lets you readily bring the best of yourself to your job, while also building your core so that you’re able to present a more well-rounded, natural version of yourself at home. It sounds somewhat idealistic, I know, but it is possible. It’s why we screen for fit when we look for employees.
I’m lucky to fit in well at a great company like Caterpillar. The company’s work ethos, service emphasis, and focus on getting things done aligns well with my own values and personality. I’m also motivated by making a difference, and that’s something that Caterpillar products do in the hands of our customers every day. I love being part of that.
The Whole Company Wins
Research shows that companies that achieve gender balance, especially at leadership levels, yield more positive results. Ultimately, when women play a vital role at Caterpillar, the whole company wins.
About Crain’s Chicago Business
Crain’s is a weekly business publication available online and in print; this is their first year recognizing women in manufacturing in Chicago.