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Faces of Agriculture: Kiera Young

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Cultivating leadership in the agriculture industry is a key to success—in this Faces of Agriculture feature, Kiera Young talks about her career journey and the importance of good leadership.

Kiera Young is the senior vice president of customers, products, and services at MacDon, a company that specializes in agriculture equipment.
Kiera Young is the senior vice president of customers, products, and services at MacDon, a company that specializes in agriculture equipment.

Each morning, Kiera Young makes the commute from rural Manitoba to Winnipeg. While the drive can be long, she doesn’t mind it—throughout the acres of fields she passes by, Young is reminded of the hard work Canadian producers put into feeding the world. But Young, who is the senior vice president of customers, products, and services at MacDon, a company that specializes in agriculture equipment, is also reminded of her own contribution to agriculture.


“I drive in and out of Winnipeg every day, so I see our product on trucks going all over the world, and I see our products operating in the field. [MacDon equipment] is also on my farm. It's so close to me,” says Young.


The Canadian-owned agriculture equipment company based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has served producers and supported our agriculture sector for over 70 years. With a deep connection to the prairie region in Manitoba, MacDon is focused on providing the latest innovation and technology in harvesting equipment.


Young, who also runs a farm alongside her husband, is proud to be part of Canada’s agriculture sector—both on the field and behind the scenes with developing agriculture equipment.


“Knowing you're doing something that adds value to a lot of people, like helping feed the world—I mean, it's so Canadian,” says Young.


Young first discovered a passion for engineering through WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), a Manitoba government-funded initiative, which focuses on encouraging youth to enter STEM careers. When she was in junior high, the organization visited her school and told her all about engineering.


Right after graduation, Young attended the University of Manitoba and obtained a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. She landed a job at StandardAero, a manufacturing company that repairs and overhauls gas turbine engines for a variety of airplanes. After 17 years in aerospace technology, Young changed course and moved towards agriculture. Joining MacDon in 2015, she started her career in ag equipment as the director of design engineering.


“I grew up in a small town in rural Manitoba surrounded by farming. I have always felt that it is a noble profession is filled with creative, resourceful, robust, and impactful individuals,” Young says.


Now as the senior vice president of customers, products, and services, her role encompasses many people, whether that’s the producers in the field or her team at MacDon. Young realized that people are at the centre of success—as a leader, communicating effectively and building relationships with these individuals is essential.

“Whether it's external or internal, your ability to build relationships and build trust is like the currency you do work in. People do work for each other because they trust each other,” says Young.


“Every time you talk to someone, you're either putting trust into a trust bank or you're taking it out. If you're going to take it out all the time, at some point you're not going to have a relationship anymore.”


Relationship building, supported by communication, was one of Young’s first lessons in leadership—it wasn’t just about her individual work, but how her whole team contributed.


Although Young is a strong leader, her personal journey in leadership came with some obstacles. Building confidence was one of the first challenges she faced. Despite her numerous successes and qualifications, confidence was something Young struggled with.


“I would say that the biggest thing that held me back for the longest time was confidence,” says Young.


In 2017, Young attended Harvard Business School in a program that fostered leadership development. The program admitted people from all over the world, a highly competitive environment.


“I sat in a room with 165 people from around the world and I could contribute at that level. That's when I got to the point where I was like, ‘you know what? I'm as smart as the rest of these people,’” says Young.


“That was a huge realization to me.”


Overcoming these challenges helped her become the leader that she is today. But Young says that with leadership, it’s important to continue growing and learning from your experiences.


“What I think about, especially now in leadership, is reflection—reflecting on good days and bad days and making sure that you understand—you’re self-aware of what you’re doing. Because as a leader, you never get to stop evolving,” says Young.


For Young, agriculture and STEM go hand-in-hand—with challenging global problems, such as feeding a growing population, these disciplines working in tandem can provide solutions.

“I feel like having a background in STEM gives you a really strong foundation [and agriculture] is one of those things we’re always going to need,” says Young.


“It is an industry that will constantly be in demand and there is a ton of opportunity from a technology perspective that comes with agriculture. It leads back to STEM—being educated or exposed to science and math, you can really understand what’s happening in the industry.”


Along with a strong set of leadership skills, just like Young, many can go far within the agriculture STEM world and plenty of opportunities await.

 

This Faces of Agriculture profile highlights Kiera Young, who is also a feature speaker for Agriculture for Life's Feed Your Future (FYF) 2023. Young shares her knowledge on what it means to be a strong leader! In Young’s speaker video, she dives deeper into how anyone can build leadership skills. For Young’s full FYF workshop on leadership, follow this link!


Feed Your Future is an exciting virtual event presented by Agriculture for Life. The goal is to reach young urban and rural women of all backgrounds with an interest in agriculture and the agri-food industry as a potential STEM career pathway, showcasing ways to advance in education, opportunities for networking, professional development, mentorship, and collaboration.


Visit feedyourfuturecareer.ca/resources or follow our YouTube channel to see all of our FYF workshops.


Step into a career in agriculture and STEM. There's a fit for everyone!

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