Soldier, wildlife protector, engineer – Benji Blevin’s life and career has been anything but predictable. But underpinning it all has been one key driver: a passion for a more sustainable future and making positive change in the world.
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Benji’s family left their farm in 2003 and resettled in Queensland where he went on to study mechanical engineering, and spent time as a combat engineer with the Australian Army and Army Reserves.
However, joining John Deere was a long-held goal and Benji secured a spot in the company’s graduate program in 2016. “I grew up around farm equipment and spent time on John Deere machinery whilst at university during summer breaks.” Benji said. “As an engineer, I always had an interest in how machines worked, and particularly the technology of John Deere. “The excellent reputation of the John Deere brand both in Zimbabwe, where I was raised, and in Australia, where I completed my education, made me confident that they would be a great company to work for.”
Since joining the program, Benji has gone on to work as a Solutions Specialist (Precision Ag Specialist), has completed a Graduate Certificate in Precision Agriculture and is currently a Precision Ag Product Manager. He believes the graduate program has been integral in supporting his growth as an emerging leader in his field, while allowing him to progress his career quickly. “The program allowed me to develop to a point where the company was confident for me to step into a fulfilling and exciting field-based role where I could work with our products and technology with our dealers and customers,” he said. “The relationships and knowledge learnt from various departments during the grad program helped me to more quickly grasp new roles by knowing who to go to for help.”
A key part of Benji’s current role is communicating to customers, dealers and John Deere’s field team about precision agriculture technology, its capability and how it works. Benji will often jump into the cab of a tractor to experience the technology firsthand, combining this with feedback from users of the machinery to discuss potential improvements that could be made. It’s an exciting time for Benji, who says agriculture is moving towards a more autonomous landscape. “This direction towards autonomy is a journey for our customers and we have a role to play in helping to ensure we help them along this journey, by making them aware of what their machines are capable of, and how they can best use them.”
Benji says that all works into a bigger goal: producing food and fibre in the most sustainable way and preserving the world for future generations. “What I do at work, and what we all do at John Deere, has a direct impact on the outcome of farmers around the world. “What we do can help them to become more productive, more profitable and more sustainable producers. Technology is developing at such a rapid pace, and we have a responsibility to help prepare customers for a more autonomous farming future. “The world needs farmers, and the world needs food and fibre. Knowing that I am contributing to this global need and helping agriculture to become a more sustainable industry is what keeps me motivated.”
However, Benji’s personal commitment to sustainability does not stop there. While completing his schooling, Benji’s deep interest in wildlife conservation, particularly in Southern Africa, developed. “Along with my two brothers, we frequently return to this part of the world to immerse ourselves in some of world’s most incredible, true wilderness areas,” Benji said. The brothers have even taken the step of forming a wildlife charity. “It provides funding to various operations and initiatives such as anti-poaching in Southern Africa, to help preserve the wildlife and their habitat for future generations. “John Deere has always been very supportive of my extra-curricular activities, and I think this is reflective of the company’s higher purpose to make a positive contribution to the world we live in.”