Alum Excels at John Deere

When Melissa Hymel (BS ’99, MBA ’03) graduated from Nicholls State University, she did not expect to manage employees for one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

“I started back with my masters to get a bigger perspective of how businesses were run,” she says. “What I envisioned when I started my MBA was that maybe I would be the human resources manager for the Thibodaux location.”

Today, she’s a human resources manager for John Deere, overseeing a location in Cary, North Carolina, along with additional corporate office duties that are still taking shape. But her career first got started in Thibodaux, when Cameco Industries hired her as a software developer while she was still an undergrad at Nicholls.

It did not take long for her to climb the corporate ladder after she earned her MBA, moving up to supervisor of the HR operations and training at the Thibodaux office. Soon, she was promoted to regional performance development specialist for the Southeast.

“I enjoy helping teams work better together and helping employees achieve their potential,” she says. “A lot of what I did was help individuals and teams get to the root cause of what was not allowing them to achieve optimal performance. And helping deal with the root causes.”

Hymel says Nicholls laid the foundation for her advancement and credits professors such as Dr. John Lajaunie as instilling a more well-rounded business skill set.

“It was a great foundation for my career,” Hymel says. “Something I have grown to appreciate over the years is how much they value education there. Nicholls is a gem right there in Southern Louisiana.”

Dr. Lajaunie, who taught her finance at Nicholls, says he recalls Hymel as an extremely motivated and hardworking student. So he was not surprised to hear about career advancements that have taken her across the country, including the corporate office in Moline, Illinois.

“For her to rise to this level within John Deere, she’s competing for those promotions not just within her immediate group, but with a pool of counterparts from all over the world who do similar work,” he says. “I think it speaks to the quality of one, her work ethic and her personal drive and her own personal intelligence. But it also speaks to the background from which she came, and that is that the Nichols business education is good enough to compete successfully with anyone.”

Hymel knows the scope of her work will evolve in 2021. Whatever
that brings, she knows that with her training and education, she’s ready for anything. – Cain Madden