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Meet Jeff: a passionate Hansenite who made a cross-functional move to maintain a healthy work-life balance

When Jeff Mead started his position as Recruiting Specialist in Chr. Hansen in 2019, he didn’t know he would change to a completely new role in Operations three years later. The consequences of COVID-19 made Jeff rethink his career path and personal aspirations for the future. An internal move across functions has enabled him to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Jeff Mead is an operator in Chr. Hansen's production site in New Berlin 


How come you moved from HR to Operations, after a long career in recruitment and talent acquisition? 

I wanted to understand the business and our products more and I felt that getting my hands dirty and working on the ground floor was the best way to get that experience and gain that knowledge.

I really enjoyed the collaborative nature of my role in HR, getting to work with so many people in the company, and being trusted to do the job as I saw fit. I also loved working with talented managers and colleagues, many of whom I regard as personal friends.

 

“The concrete objectives and directive that comes with my new role in Operations, has made it a lot easier for me to maintain my happiness.”

 

However, during COVID-19 when I was working from home, it became difficult to juggle work and my private life in a balanced manner. I found that my personal space got merged into my workspace making it difficult to attend to my domestic obligations of picking up my kids after school and cooking them dinner. Basically, the work in Operations has given me a much more set schedule, allowing me more time with my kids.  

Has your work-life balance improved since your transition?

In Operations my schedule is pretty set, I can rely on being done around the same time every day. So now my girls get to see their dad pick them up from school Monday through Friday. I get to spend more quality time with my family, cooking dinner and having the opportunity to enjoy bath time and reading books to my girls. That has been a game-changer for me. I could do those things in the past, but I constantly had my job in the back of my mind. 

The concrete objectives and directive that comes with my new role in Operations, has made it a lot easier for me to maintain my happiness. I even get to spend more time at the gym, getting my physical exercise and strengthening my health on a daily basis.


How has your background contributed positively to your new role in Operations?

The team gave me a very warm welcome and instructions, encouraging me to make suggestions for improvements, as continuous improvement is a cornerstone in production. I have strong attention to detail and the ability to recognize patterns, and we have already conducted one project where we redesigned the storage facility within the area where I work. 


“I was shocked at how physically fit some of my colleagues were and how they could manage some of the lifting requirements.”


Has anything surprised or challenged you in your new role? 

I'm a pretty fit person. I go to the gym multiple times a week so I thought I would be prepared for the more physical aspects of this position, including lifting. I was shocked at how physically fit some of my colleagues were and how they could manage some of the lifting requirements.

We also have a lot of intellectually stimulating problems that we're addressing daily and coupling that with physical fatigue from the lifting is almost like a military PT (physical training) test. You get physically burnt out fast and then you go right into a math test. That’s one of the things that's neat about the role. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me sharp.   


Why did you stay in Chr. Hansen instead of exploring other options outside of the company? 

Chr. Hansen has a very strong reputation for conservation and sustainability, and I feel like my contribution adds to a larger mission. I believe 100% in my heart that what we are doing is going to improve the lives of people on this planet today and in the future. 

Also, I simply like working here! Chr. Hansen does a good job of appreciating their employees, adding a level of openness to communication so it doesn’t feel hierarchical. Your managers are very engaging and trying to help you to be a better employee. Not all companies share those values and that was something that made me want to stay with the organization.

 

Mental health and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis for mental health, fueling short- and long-term stresses and undermining the mental health of millions.1 Faced with new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues, it is important that we look after our mental, as well as our physical, health.2


What does it mean for you to be a Hansenite?

I feel proud of where I work, and I feel proud of the mission that we're working towards. If I was ever given the opportunity of a “take your daughter to work day” for my daughter, I would be excited to share what we're doing as a company to make the world a better place. 

I think sharing that passion, that drive and that will to give your whole self to the company is something that our employees do regularly and that's what makes people a Hansenite. 

“We're only given a short amount of time on this planet and it's important that we spend it on something that makes us happy!”

 

What would you recommend to others that are considering an internal move? 

I think self-reflection is always important. Thinking about what's important for you as an individual and your family, your health and well-being. We're only given a short amount of time on this planet and it's important that we spend it on something that makes us happy! 

So, if you're feeling you're in the wrong position, reach out, talk to other people and colleagues and explore opportunities. See if other open roles are a better fit for you, or even talk to your manager to see if adjustments can be made. It’s all about communication and being open to making sure they understand if you're not feeling satisfied, why that is and how they can improve it. Trust that they'll try to help you make that change or redesign your role, so it's better suited for you.

 

Sources 
https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2022
2 https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/mental-health-and-covid-19

 

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