The 2020 SHPE Manager of the Year says everyone wins when companies encourage diversity.

For Enrique Riojas bringing more Hispanic and Latino employees to John Deere and helping them have a rich and fulfilling career has become a mission.

Enrique Riojas holding up his trophy at his desk
Enrique Riojas accepts SHPE's 2020 Manager of the Year award virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riojas, who won the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineer's (SHPE) Manager of the Year award in 2020, helped establish a leadership council at Deere for Hispanic and Latino employees. His efforts, along with those of others, also resulted in Cory Reed, a vice president of worldwide Ag & Turf, becoming executive sponsor for the company's SHPE and HOLA employee resource groups.

"That was a big change for us," Riojas said of pulling everyone together. "We went from independent efforts to a collective voice. I think that support from leadership was important. We wanted to organize the groups better and really present their story to our senior leaders and try to give senior leaders a different perspective of diversity from a Hispanic viewpoint. Everyone wins in this type of collaboration. (Leaders) learn a lot from stories we share."

It also has resulted in more funding from the company to support community events, such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) nights.

"We're demonstrating that what these groups are doing is really making an impact for the company and the community," Riojas said.

Riojas, the business Unit Manager for Shared Products and Services at Dubuque Works in Dubuque, Iowa, said an ongoing goal is to increase the recruitment of U.S.-born Hispanic employees at Deere. He noted that many already in leadership positions, including himself, come from Latin American countries.

"I spent a number of years at Deere in Mexico before coming here," Riojas said of moving to the U.S. "Many of our leaders have a successful career in another country then come here at a certain level. That's one of the opportunities. We need to continue leveraging existing Deere talent from other units in the world but also attract more Hispanic and Latino people to fill the pipeline. We want to make it so people start with Deere earlier in their careers, they learn at Deere and they stay with Deere."