Tractor-maker John Deere to replace long-time GC with veteran CLO hire

Eastman Chemical CLO Kellye Walker to replace Mary Jones as legal chief next month

A John Deere tractor smereka /

US tractor-maker Deere & Company has hired veteran in-house counsel Kellye Walker as its next chief legal officer, replacing Mary Jones, who has announced her intention to retire later this year.

Walker joins from Eastman Chemical Company, where she was also CLO. At Deere & Company, she will have responsibility for all global law and patent departments and oversight of its public affairs and environmental, health and safety functions. She will take up the position on 29 April.

Moline, Illinois-based Deere & Company is better known as John Deere, which makes tractors, lawn mowers and other vehicles that are distinctive for their green and yellow livery.

John May, chairman and CEO of Deere & Company, said: “Over the course of her career, Kellye has compiled an impressive record of experience and achievement. Her strategic leadership and problem-solving skills, along with her proven ability to deliver results in a rapidly changing environment, will benefit our company as we continue to deliver groundbreaking products, services and outcomes for our [agriculture], construction and forestry customers around the world.”

Walker has been at Eastman for four years, having previously been CLO at defence company Huntington Ingalls Industries. She also had spells as general counsel at American Water, Diageo North America and BJ’s Wholesale Club. Prior to that she worked in private practice, including at defunct firm Hill & Barlow where she was a partner. She is currently a board member at T Rowe Price Funds and Lincoln Electric Holdings. 

Jones is set to retire after more than a quarter of a century with the company, first joining as vice president for global human resources before being promoted to GC in 2013. She also assumed responsibility for worldwide public affairs in 2018.

In other recent vehicle-related in-house moves, last month luxury electric car-maker and Tesla rival Lucid hired former Mercedes-Benz lawyer Matt Everitt as GC. In November, US ambulance, fire engine and school bus-maker REV Group hired Stephen Zamansky as GC from Cooper Tire & Rubber Company. And back in June, Daimler Truck promoted associate GC Florian Hofer to CLO after Thomas Laubert said he was leaving to join German pharmaceutical giant Bayer.

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