Product manager, ag management solutions, John Deere
Hayes, 27, develops and markets John Deere's GreenStar products, which allow farmers to automate their work.
"I grew up on a farm, and my dad would never let me plant corn because I couldn't drive as straight as he could. Now, with minimal training, any operator can plant perfectly straight corn rows with just a few button pushes. With the AutoTrac system, we're able to steer a 500-horsepower tractor pulling a 120-foot implement within a half-inch of where it needs to be, automatically. As steering and planting become more precise, I think we'll see a lot more mainstream media enter the cab. Just because a farmer is in the middle of a field in North Dakota doesn't mean that he doesn't want access to real-time grain prices and the ability to watch Tosh.0 at the same time."
A version of this article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.