Tell us about yourself.
I’m a Nebraska native who followed my husband to Fargo after graduation about 12 years ago. I started my Fargo journey as an employee of John Deere in the electronics industry (at the time Phoenix International) and have stayed at that company ever since. I currently manage a team of 10 in the product engineer organization focused on the individual components that make up a design. Through my work, my husband’s work and our church (St. Anne & Joachim), we’ve formed our own community up “North.” As a mom of three (ages eight, five and two), our community continues to expand with our family and all the different things that having kids gets you engaged in. I graduated with a mechanical engineering degree and while I’ve used that education in every role I’ve had, I’ve never done traditional mechanical engineer work. I have worked at John Deere for my whole career and have worked in a couple of different departments, but mainly in systems, process and data work with either an IT or engineering business connection. I’ve been in my current role as supervisor of the component engineering group for three years.
The most important thing to me is supporting others in my organization with their needs. In particular, the support that I’m able to provide to those on my team. Employees are the lifeblood of any company and I do everything in my power to support their goals and needs both professionally and personally. Team building, recognition and development are high priorities for me.
Who are some people who have been influential in your journey and why?
I feel like it is a typical answer to list your mom and for good reason. My mom strongly influenced my decision to become an engineer, taught me to be an independent person and continues to serve as a sounding board and example in my journey as a wife and mother.
Paul Jarski has been a major influence in my work life since a chance business trip seven years ago. At the time, I interacted with him very little but he took over a large enterprise project I was engaged in so we ended up in Moline, IL to keep it moving forward. In breaks between meetings, we had great conversations and he shared insights and also gave me honest and practical feedback from his perspective. After that trip, I asked him to be my informal mentor. Through lunches and his example, he guided me through multiple job changes and shaped my journey as a manager. Over the years, he has become more than just a mentor, serving as a sponsor, advocate and confidant. He was a pivotal support for me through a big reorganization that included his position being eliminated. Despite him having less reason to invest his time, he continues to support and help me grow. Recently, he showed me that a mentor/sponsor can be proud of you, even if you don’t follow the path they provide. In fact, when someone shows that kind of growth and ownership in their journey along with the understanding of what is the right action for them, it is a great compliment to their ability as a mentor. I look forward to my opportunity to serve as someone’s mentor in the future, and hopefully make the kind of impact to their world that he has had to mine.
What drives you?
I’m driven by a desire for order in this chaotic world. There is no better feeling to me than a perfectly executed plan that has exactly the outcome you wanted (and sometimes even more). In my early career, I discovered a passion for process creation and continuous improvement. More recently, I’ve found that this desire is broader and something I crave (and am good at) in a lot of areas of my life both at work and at home. It might look like an organization system for the chaos of toys, a new routine to benefit myself or my family and sometimes planning out the details of a busy week—in particular, meals. I’m also learning as there are more and more opportunities to lean into my passion for order, that I have to choose those that give the most value to me and/ or those around me or I will burn out.
Do you have any book or podcast recommendations for our readers?
“Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”, “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”, “Outliers: The Story of Success”
I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Malcolm Gladwell. Some of it is just interesting and others, including the three books below, have adjusted my worldview, even if just slightly, and still come up in occasional conversion many years after reading. Plus, it is nice that he reads his own books and they are easy to listen to since I mostly get time for audio versions of books only, while I’m in the car or doing chores.
I would also recommend “Everybody Fights: So Why Not Get Better at It” by Kim and Penn Holderness to anyone who is in a marriage or serious relationship. The concepts and ideas in the book have really helped me communicate with my husband and led to a better relationship. We have even applied concepts discussed to other topics of conversation like scheduling a time to talk about vacation planning or something else big that requires us to both be ready to have the conversation. It also has a lot of open conversation about ADHD, which Penn openly talks about having and is becoming a more common conversation, so I found it valuable to have perspective on that topic, since I don’t have it myself. I’ve also found some value in this with other relationships that can get tense in a professional or personal world. As a huge bonus, Kim and Penn are very funny and make a living from YouTube videos so it is an entertaining listen (I highly recommend the audiobook version).
What do you think can be improved in our business community?
As a business community, we should lean into events that connect business professionals with each other to gain best practices and build a culture of work that is more consistent across similar companies. I’m confident there are problems that we are trying to solve internally in many of the large companies in this area that we could work to solve together and would not hurt anyone’s unique ability to earn a profit. An example is diversity, equity and inclusion efforts that, when focused inside the “four walls” of a business, can only be so effective when employees walk out the door into the community. Another example is balancing the need and desire for flexibility in hours and where we work post-pandemic with the value of getting people together “in the room” to build relationships and get work done together. I think there are pockets of these events through the Chamber of Commerce (particularly Women Connect) and United Way groups (such as the United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program and Lead UNITED), but they will only have an impact if companies in the area support them fully and at a high level.