As a young leader in Mexico, Lesly Martinez knows how to make an impact. And it’s contagious.
Martinez, senior software engineer at the Torreon campus at Motores John Deere has been dedicated to giving back to her community and truly serving the needs of others since she was a student, and she has now brought that passion with her to share with her colleagues at John Deere.
As an intern with Deere during her time at university in 2015, Martinez organized a mission-type activity where she and her colleagues collected milk, clothes, food – almost 20 tons of supplies, and transported them by trailer from Torreon City to the Chihuahua Mountain range, where native people were living without basic supplies. They spent 15 days with the people building relationships, teaching them basic skills, and learning about their lives. An experience Martinez never forgets.
“When I was with the kids and they were smiling, and I knew they were in really difficult situations, I asked myself ‘how can I keep them smiling?’” Martinez said.
Education at the forefront
She continued to develop relationships with employees and institutions who could help with donated items and has been working to impact the lack of education in her community by developing educational programs through employee volunteerism.
“With my connections, we have been offering ‘pilot institutions’, where we can work with the children in these communities to teach them language and math and even upgrade their computers so they can learn technical and programming skills,” she said.
“A lot of these kids don’t have parents and have difficulty learning,” said Martinez. “So, we need to continue to support them at an early age and give them the tools to continue studying and build strong communities that will offer them better choices for the future.”
When the pandemic hit the globe in 2020, the poverty became even worse in some areas as people were losing their jobs and were struggling to get by.
Martinez jumped into action again and developed a special fundraising opportunity for her colleagues, not only as a way to raise money for those devastated by the pandemic, but as a way to bring her own Deere community together in a unique way that connected them at a time when they were physically apart.
She expanded the idea from a co-worker to coordinate a virtual talent show, conducted over Teams, where Deere employees could perform a special talent which was recorded and broadcasted to other Deere employees virtually. Talents included music, bands, signing, and dance, and employees could pay $10 to watch the recorded talents. The money raised was used to support impacted families in the community with groceries, clothing, etc.
After two years of conducting the talent show virtually, the team was able to conduct the fundraiser in person in 2022.
“It’s our talent show with a cause,” she said.
Support and opportunity are the key
Martinez grew up more than 2 hours away from the city, but her family moved near her school when she wanted to go to university in the city. Here, her small-town upbringing hadn’t prepared her for seeing so many people who were smart but weren’t supported or had no access to go to university. She saw children in the street who were hungry and homeless. These things became her motivation. She wanted to find a way to give these people the tools, the support, and the resources they needed to have a better life. A sacrifice that was made for her.
Martinez’s mother always wanted to go to college, but her family did not have the money. So, her mother did whatever she could to raise Martinez and her brothers to have the opportunities she so longed for.
“My mother is really special to me,” said Martinez. “She told me if I can go to college, I can have the opportunities to do so many different things. And now, I want to pass that along; to help empower people so they can have better opportunities.”
A passion she shares with John Deere. And that company support has allowed her to engage in ways she didn’t think were possible.
“The John Deere Foundation and all of my colleagues and volunteers have been so supportive of the work we are doing here. It is so important to give back,” she said.
Power For Good spreads across the country
Described as a true servant leader, Martinez has also been instrumental in the implementation of the Power for Good tool availability for Mexico employees. The program was implemented in Mexico in 2022 and is even available for production employees.
“We really worked hard toward that adoption, and we have almost 80% employee participation. It is also available at other locations in Mexico as well. Now employees have the ability to support the regions they want.”
This project was extended to Saltillo, Monterrey, and Ramos campuses to impact more people across the country. And it's still under execution.
For Martinez, whose mother now owns her own seamstress and ironing business, using the tools and resources available to her, and her own dedication and passion has fueled a powerful movement across Mexico. A movement that demonstrates empathy, social responsibility, and improving the lives of others.