What led Heather Arthofer to take her own career advice?

A sudden job change helps revive employee’s passion


Heather Arthofer found herself in a situation many people do at one point or another in their careers — struggling.

Heather Arthofer volunteers at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences Career Day
Heather Arthofer volunteers at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences Career Day.

She was in a new role where she didn’t feel like the right fit. At the same time her kids had all left for college.

“As a mother, this is what you prepare them for,” she said. “But what was I going to do now? I felt like I wasn’t valuable at home or at work.”

Arthofer, who had previously been a coach and mentor to other employees, decided it was time she benefit from being the mentee. Through the coaching process and reflection, Arthofer began to think about the legacy she wanted to leave.

“I had to ask myself what do I want the next 10 years of work to look like? What is going to motivate me each day?” she said. “And I realized that not only do I want to intentionally focus on hitting my goals but passing forward the opportunities I received at Deere to others.”

Practicing what you preach

Early in her career, Arthofer was in software engineering and development roles before moving to a position working on strategic people initiatives for IT, a more challenging assignment. Arthofer found herself talking a lot about the advantages of an expanded career path.

“I continued to relate it back to times in my career I really enjoyed,” she recalled. “The engineer path and the continuous learning mindset topics were what I was talking about to others. I reflected that I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I thought, if I am leading this, why wasn’t I doing it? Why am I not?”

Arthofer decided to return to coding and took a role as a senior software engineer. In this new role she feels confident in her skills and is proficient in several IT disciplines.

“I’m not a master, but I am confident that with the networks I have now, I can learn anything,” Arthofer said. “I built confidence in my technical capabilities, and I love it.

“I have a reason to come into work now. I’m inspired to learn this new stuff so I can pass it along to the next generation and help them build the same career and bring their best self to work.”

“Passing it forward”

Arthofer has been described as a person who leads the change she wants to see. She is now involved in a local organization where she mentors young women and offers career guidance.

“I encourage them to reflect around the roles that are the most interesting to them, what excites them, what motivates them,” she explained. “I ask them to leverage their networks to really understand roles and see if it is something they would like to do. Find that next role they are inspired for and motivated for. It may be uncomfortable, but test it out.

“A coach helped me get started and when there were roadblocks, he gave me enough to keep me going to learn and gain confidence. Now, I can pass that forward.”