Josh and Jenna Witten often carpool to work.
After all, as husband and wife, they enjoy each other’s company. And even though they work for separate Koch companies, both office at Koch’s corporate headquarters in Wichita, Kansas.
When schedules align, they sometimes grab lunch together. As kindred spirits and best friends, they sometimes even finish each other’s thoughts.
“These are the first civilian jobs we’ve ever had. It’s nice going to lunch together when we can,” Jenna begins.
“It’s not too different from when we both served in Germany together. In a sense, we’ve always worked for the same boss – either the Army or Koch. I guess we don’t know another way,” Josh finishes.
Both Wittens grew up on farms. Jenna’s hometown of Sunman, Indiana, and Josh’s in Vine Grove, Kentucky, were only two hours apart. Yet they wouldn’t meet until they were Army officers stationed a world away in Afghanistan.
She was a captain. He, a lieutenant. Jenna remembers their first encounter well.
“Another lieutenant brought him over to introduce me, and I thought, ‘Oooo, he is really cute.’ But of course I was Stone Cold Steve Austin about it,” Jenna blushes. “We were in a combat zone and focused on the mission at hand. It wasn’t until we were both stationed in Germany a year later that we discovered our true connection.”
The romance blossomed and Josh popped the question in October 2013. The couple wed in March 2014. In early 2015, after nearly 14 combined years of military service, Jenna and Josh transitioned back to civilian life. In their search for an employer that shared their values and valued their unique and impressive skills, they finally discovered a fit, at a place called Koch.
Today, Jenna works as a business systems analyst for Koch Pipeline – a company that is part of the vital supply segment of the U.S. economy and operates more than 4,000 miles of pipeline that delivers energy and other valuable commodities.
“Realizing how open everyone is at all levels of the organization here kind of blew my mind at first.”
“I get to partner with business leaders to understand current processes and identify gaps or problems,” Jenna explains. “Our team works to develop and analyze alternatives that can solve the business problem. We also help implement the recommended alternative.”
Josh works for Koch Business Solutions – building economic reports for information technology projects and developing new analytical tools as a financial analyst.
“Part of my military service was in finance, which was something I really enjoyed and wanted to pursue as a civilian,” Josh relates.
“Koch realized that our military skills could translate. Things like critical thinking and analysis. But also, values,” Jenna adds. “Mr. (Charles) Koch in an interview recently said that we hire more for values than anything else. Army values are very similar to the Koch Guiding Principles. Things like integrity and respect.”
Something very different from the military’s strict chain of command is Koch’s open challenge process – where every employee is expected to chime in to help make things better.
“Realizing how open everyone is at all levels of the organization here kind of blew my mind at first,” Jenna observes. “In the military you don’t go to a colonel and speak your mind. But there’s not that formality here. It’s accepted at all levels.”
“If I feel like something’s wrong, I don’t have any reservations about saying it here, as long as it’s respectful,” Josh agrees. “The response I’ve always gotten is, ‘I may be your boss, but we’re all in this together. And the best ideas win.’”
Away from work, the Wittens enjoy reading, watching football and church activities. Both love HGTV and home improvement projects. In their first house together, they spend weekends working on various projects.
“She tells me what to do,” Josh hesitates and then restates his position a bit more diplomatically. “Actually, let’s just say she orchestrates the projects.”
Jenna laughs. “It’s cool knowing that we’re going to be here as long as we want. We can unpack and settle down together long term. And we can invest in little upgrades that we want to do. And we are; we try to do most of it ourselves.”
And what does the future hold?
“One thing we enjoyed about our military careers is that every year or so you’re moving to a new assignment, a new position,” Jenna said. “You’re constantly challenged. Always learning more. Always doing more. Koch lets us do that in the civilian world.”
“Long term I’d love for us to stay here, continuing our careers at a company where values are so important and opportunities are endless. That’s big for us,” Josh agrees. “After moving all over the world and living in separate locations, wherever we are together is our home. So, long term, that’s where we’re going to be. Wherever that is.”
Jenna’s eyes get misty. “Awwww. I was just waiting for you to say that.”
When not chilling on the couch, the Wittens also love to travel. They collect mugs from the places they visit. Orange is from Holland.
Me, you and a dog named Molly. Josh, Jenna and their golden retriever always make time to stop and smell the roses.
Going the distance. Despite 900 miles between them, Jenna made the trip from Milwaukee to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to be Josh’s date to the 2013 3rd Special Forces Group Christmas Ball.
The couple cherishes mementos of military service, like this stein featuring their brigade in Afghanistan and Germany, and Josh’s grandfather’s Ordinance Corps plaque.