More than a half-dozen manufacturing facilities Deere operates in the United States are led by women, including Jena Holtberg-Benge, general manager, John Deere Reman.
These women in leadership are an example of why Forbes recognized John Deere as one of America's best employers for diversity in 2021. To comprise the list, Forbes anonymously surveyed 50,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees to rate their employers on criteria such as age, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation equality.
Holtberg-Benge provides global leadership for our remanufacturing division that employs approximately 650 people and distributes remanufactured John Deere parts worldwide. That includes overseeing production at the company’s remanufacturing facilities in Springfield and Stafford, Missouri, and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
In addition, many John Deere factory managers serve as the face of John Deere in their communities; so not only are they a leader in the manufacturing environment, but they’re leaders within their communities as well.
The importance of diversity
Holtberg-Benge is a strong believer in the value of remanufacturing to provide quality products to customers, while meeting global sustainability goals—reusing material through remanufacturing. And she’s a big believer in diversity.
“We need a shift in thinking about diversity and what it can bring to the company,” Holtberg-Benge said. “Our workforce needs to reflect our community. What really motivates me has been our ability to attract an extremely talented diverse workforce.”
John Deere Reman sells in over 100 countries globally.
“Diversity has really helped us understand our customer base,” Holtberg-Benge said. “In Reman, we’re seeing significantly improved shareholder value add (SVA) and operating return on operating sales (OROS). By having a diverse leadership team, John Deere Reman has been able to deliver on financial results, including improved margins.”
Holtberg-Benge has been able to achieve these results by taking a less hierarchical approach to leadership.
“The old-school factory manager model of telling people what to do can’t succeed in a diverse climate,” she said. “Through our Smart Industrial redesign, we’ve flattened our organization. This new approach gets everyone engaged in striving toward the same goals.”
Holtberg-Benge received the Remanufacturing Industries Council’s (RIC) ACE award for its mission to Advocate, Collaborate and Educate on behalf of the industry. She earned the Collaborate Award for her “strong leadership, enthusiasm and collaborative spirit” while chairing the Remanufacturing Alliance that promotes the industry.
In addition, Holtberg-Benge is vice chair of the Deere Employees Credit Union, president of the Springfield Business Development Corporation, a board member with the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and co-chair for the United Way of the Ozarks Campaign.