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SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa

Balance: Jena Holtberg-Benge

General Manager, John Deere Reman

Posted online

When it comes to balance, Jena Holtberg-Benge says there is no such thing.

“It is almost impossible to get balanced, and everybody’s interpretation of it is different,” she says, suggesting instead to focus on contentment. “If you’re not enjoying your work or your life, you need to probably make a change.”

As the general manager of John Deere Reman, where she’s worked for 18 years, Holtberg-Benge oversees 700 employees at plants in Springfield, Strafford and Canada. She travels to the Great White North about 10 times a year. She also sits on several boards and committees, enjoys the arts, and is a wife to Jeff and mother to a 12-year-old boy. She says she practices daily reflections to center herself.

“If you don’t step back and away from what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis and reflect on what’s important, you’re not going to strike that balance,” she says.

Holtberg-Benge’s advice on balance

It’s up to you.
“No one can really find a balance for you. You have to do that for yourself by reflecting on your life, on your values, on what’s important to you and on your goals. It’s not equal parts. It’s that you’re happy in what you’re doing.”

Energy levels vary.
“Everyone’s energy level is different. I love the arts. I love to run. I love to be involved in my family – and when I’m in, I’m all in.
“My energy level might be very different from somebody else’s, so not judging each other for the balance that we strike is important.”

It’s an elusive target.
“When balance seems elusive, what do I do? I am very much a runner and when I run, I really can clear my mind. I can think about personnel challenges or goals that I’m trying to accomplish or try to resolve a problem that I’m having. It really helps me think. Or I plan time with my husband. When I can’t find balance, I need to shut it down, grab a glass of wine, sit with him and have a conversation. He’s that person I can go to – to either pump me up or reel me back.”

Work is a journey.
“Careers go through cycles. I might be in a point where my job takes more of my effort, but I also know that next role I might not travel as much or I might spend more time with my family.”

Value the whole person.
“My balance might be very different than my employees’ balance or their needs. It’s not just about what my team brings to the job; it’s that I understand what their concerns are, what’s happening with their family, what’s really going on in their lives. It’s not just about the person doing the job, it’s the whole person. We can’t retain people if we don’t think differently about the structure of work and the flexibility of work.”


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