Employee Spotlight: Employee investment creates exceptional talent

Portrait of Jake Sankey

Featured Employee: Jake Sankey

Job Title: Technical Product Manager, Data & Analytics


Passion for growing talent inspires Sankey to be proactive

Growing technical talent is not just part of being a manager for Jake Sankey, it fulfills a natural desire for him as a person.

Early in his career Sankey, technical product manager in Data & Analytics, recognized a need for mentorship and career development. "I knew what my skills and interests were, but I didn't know how to best apply those things at Deere. Even though I liked what I was doing, I felt like there was something missing,' he said.

As he began to find his path, his desire grew to help others discover and develop in the roles they are passionate about.

Sankey makes a move… or three

That's when Sankey decided to act.

He got involved with conducting technical interviews with candidates in his previous years at ISG and was able to begin helping others grow their technical career paths.

"Through those interviews, I could get a feel for what this person was like to work with, what they knew and didn't know, and where they could focus their time developing needed skills," Sankey said. "It is so much better for everyone when you find the right role for the right person."

Once he moved to Global IT, Sankey got involved with technical interviews for the IT Development Program (ITDP). He noticed the recruiting teams weren't getting an accurate read about candidates from their assessments, so he began working with HR and peers to redesign the measuring rubric for technical code pair interviewing. This refinement helps managers to get the best picture of the candidate's current abilities.

Through the AOM transformation, Sankey was able to take those assessment skills and adapt them to a more formal role working with the Hacker Rank assessments. He's helping to refine the questions, the time limit, and the feedback format.

"I want to help ensure we have a fair and objective assessment for candidates which gives recruitment teams a solid picture of where a candidate is at,"; he said.

Because of Sankey's own education, early career experiences, and assessment refinement capabilities, his passion began to develop for growing young talent and he got involved in campus recruiting for Deere.

"I really enjoy presenting to these groups and interviewing prospective candidates to help advocate for Deere and all of the awesome work they can look forward to being a part of."



More than interviews and assessments

To nurture talent and help employees create a path for continual growth, Sankey believes that managers and peers alike should build relationships with each other to enhance communication, feedback, and direction. He feels this mentor-mentee relationship is key to helping others reach their potential and help them fulfill their passions.

And - he acts on those beliefs.

Sankey is passionate about working with reskilling candidates and ITDP employees to help develop and focus their skill set in a strategic way that aligns with their personal and career goals.

"It takes a special person to want to code all day," Sankey said. "If that is what you're passionate about, we can work together to help develop those skills. Otherwise, we can work together to find what you are excited about and provide resources and guidance in pursuing that."

As Sankey reflects on the success of one of those reskilling program employees, he recalls where the employee was when they were hired and how much they had grown and developed since then.

"It has been awesome to see how much confidence they have gained and their ability to engage with users on a daily basis," said Sankey.

"It's rewarding to see them develop into a successful, engaged software engineer and I am so glad I got to be a part of that mentorship."

Sankey doesn't stop there

Sankey's passion for growing talent is so deeply embedded into who he is, he is also involved in weekly peer mentoring relationships with employees and will participate in technical pairing with employees to help them successfully develop themselves and their products, which eventually creates advantages for our customers and the company.

"There is a lot of opportunity to help people reach their goals and being a part of that is really rewarding for me," he said. "I enjoy seeing people grow in roles they are excited about and doing what I can to help them along the way. When people feel supported and empowered, the culture is better, and the products are better."

Sankey has also taught Python for Analytics and Big Data Ecosystems Master's level classes at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. You know… in his spare time.

"It is inherent in me to try and help people grow. I get a lot of satisfaction from that," he said. "When people move on or into another position that they are excited about - to me that is success, and it is pretty cool."

Perfect assessment.


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