Missouri S&T is known for preparing students to be motivated, driven and successful leaders. Joseph Liefer, ME’06, is no exception.
“Like my friends at Rolla, we are all driven individuals with the desire to succeed in everything we do; we’re competitive,” says Liefer, referring to fellow “30 under 30” nominees Kyle Darnell and Jeremy Schnurbush. “Plus, I like a challenge.”
After interning for John Deere in 2005, Liefer, a native of Red Bud, Ill., joined the company’s Ottumwa, Iowa, plant as a full-time employee in 2006. Since that time, Liefer’s dedication and hard work have helped him climb the leadership ranks at a remarkable pace. He was also selected to participate in his company’s Manufacturing Leadership Program, and was a part of a team selected for the 2008 President’s Award for Excellence.
In his newest position, product program manager, Liefer is responsible for the overall process of a key new product, from concept to production, and ensuring interaction between key personnel related to the product.
Though he is younger than many of his team members’ own children, his age has never been an issue with each promotion. “I’ve found that by being transparent, upfront and honest, I can gain a lot of respect,” Liefer says. “I don’t go into something thinking I’m the smartest person in the room.”
Liefer’s outstanding work ethic is also well known throughout the Ottumwa community. He has logged dozens of hours volunteering with the YMCA, Society of Manufacturing Engineers for Southeast Iowa, United Way, Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Community Vision Team. “My duty is to give back where I can,” says Liefer, “and fortunately I’m in a position where I can.”