Job Title: UX Design Lead
Product Team: Fuel Design Systems
Tenure: 8 years at John Deere
Making an impact is more than just a job for Delaney Kolberg. Her passion for helping others succeed takes her from the workplace to the classroom, and back again.
Kolberg, a UX Design Lead at John Deere, has spent the majority of her 8-year career at Deere making an impact by designing solutions for customers and dealers so they can spend the majority of their time solving problems they need to solve, improving their lives and their business.
"I love making things better for a person using our applications, which is a huge part of my job,” she said. “As a user experience professional, I am always trying to better understand users and help design solutions that meet their needs. Being able to come up with a solution, implement it, and see how it changes their work is one of my greatest joys."
She is just as passionate about the products she creates and the company she works for. Kolberg and her team make it their goal to drive intuitive, authentically John Deere digital experiences for everyone through guidelines, common design patterns, and reusable code. “Our mission is to be united on the essential brand and foundational elements while allowing for flexibility in implementation,” she said. “John Deere's physical products are best in class and innovative. Ideally, our web products are the same way --- rivaling the quality of our machines.”
Making an impact
Over the past four years, Kolberg has continued to develop that passion on a different platform; the classroom. As a mentor and teacher in Deere’s Computer Science Academy, she works with high school seniors to help them develop the skills they would need to solve a real-life problem, one that a Deere customer might encounter.
In conjunction with the Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley, Iowa school districts, Deere developed the Academy to give students the opportunity to get a head start on developing hands-on technical skills in a real business environment. Not only is Kolberg a mentor and teacher, over the years, she has taken on the added responsibilities of overall program coordination, developing content, instructional design, and recruiting her colleagues to become mentors as well.
“It is interesting to me to be able to teach (UX and Agile) skills that I use on a daily basis, to students who don’t have the same background or skills,” said Kolberg. “I love to make sure the content is relevant to them and to what they want to achieve.”
The Academy is designed as a capstone course for seniors and is offered their last semester of high school. According to Kolberg, students work with Deere employees four days a week to develop Android apps that have the potential to provide a real-life solution. The students conduct interviews with users, create storyboards, and receive feedback from their customers and mentors. They then create a prototype and run user testing, setting them up to develop a working application based on user feedback. The class ends with a final demonstration of their work. It gives students experience in a real-time situation and exposure to an IT working environment.
Influence develops into loyalty
Not only has the Academy been an enriching experience for Kolberg, it also has the potential to develop a rich talent pool for Deere in the local community.
As is the case for Sydney Einck. A senior at Iowa State University, Einck is currently involved in her third internship at Deere. She attended the Computer Science Academy in high school and worked directly with Kolberg and her team to develop tech language skills, brand standards, and learned how a team works together in an IT environment. She specifically learned Java and GitHub, which applied directly to her first internship experience.
“When I started my first internship, Delaney was great,” said Einck. “She helped me work through the first-week jitters and was a great resource for all things John Deere. She gave great direction around user interviews and it was eye opening to work with customers who think they know what they want, but through the interview process, learn that they don’t.”
Through her internships, Einck learned to use PHP, Java, Visual Studio, HTML, CSS, StandAlone TRH, Bauer, Minitab, and Ignition. She will be graduating next spring with a degree in Management Information Systems and plans to obtain her master’s degree in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). But what Einck is really excited about, is the possibility to work for John Deere in a full-time capacity.
“John Deere is my hometown company,” she said. “I’ve known about John Deere my whole life. And the employees here; they love their work.”
The IT impact
Students like Einck remind Kolberg that the Academy not only develops a talent source for Deere, but highlights the opportunities there are in a tech career.
“By sharing our stories as mentors, it is a benefit to show we are experts in technology and there are a lot of opportunities in tech,” Kolberg said. “It gives them the knowledge for where they could take their career - not only at Deere but in IT in general.”
Einck agrees. “There is so much you can do in this field, so aim big,” she said. “I used to undermine my own capabilities, but after these experiences, I learned that I could do this. You just have to keep your mind open to all the possibilities.”