Ever felt like you were the only woman in the HVACR field? Though it’s not unusual to be the only woman in the room, the good news is that you are definitely not alone in the industry.
To assist its membership in networking and career growth, the Women in HVACR organization recently launched a new Mentorship Program designed to match up women in the industry with their more experienced counterparts to offer advice, career coaching and the networking connections to help achieve career goals. Participation is as easy as filling out a simple online form that will help match applicants with an appropriate mentor.
Women in HVACR is ideally positioned to call on the vast resource of experienced women within its membership to act as mentors to the future leaders of our field. The program is the perfect complement to the Women in HVACR mission to improve the lives of its members by providing professional avenues to connect with other women growing their careers in the HVACR industry, and empowering women to succeed through networking opportunities, mentoring and education.
A good mentor has experience in the same field as their mentee and is willing to share her knowledge and experiences in order to help their counterpart succeed. They can help with setting and achieving career goals, making smarter business decisions, overcoming workplace challenges, learning new skills or simply offering an unbiased thirdparty perspective on frustrations the mentee may be facing at work.
Being a mentor can be an incredibly rewarding and beneficial experience. Some mentors simply believe in the person they are helping and want to see her succeed, and that alone is worth the time and energy. Others look at mentorship as a way of leaving a legacy. As a mentor, you get to pass your wisdom down to the next generation. You have the power to make a huge difference in your industry, your company and even the world. Whatever the motivation is to be a mentor, the benefits of mentorship have been well documented on both sides of the mentor-mentee relationship.
In their own words
Below are some words of wisdom from me and other women in the HVACR industry regarding mentorship.
According to Julie Decker of Carlisle HVAC, she used to think of mentors as the smartest people, the most professional and the most skilled. Yet, in some instances, mentors surprise us because of life experiences.
“Life experiences can often teach us more than books, classes or forums,” says Decker. “One of my mentors came in a small, young package. Let me tell you the story….
“A young lady that was about to enter her senior year of high school encountered a health issue. A grapefruit size cyst had to be removed from her lower abdomen. The surgery was scheduled for the first of June prior to “The young lady that had just had surgery was also required to pass that test – six weeks after surgery. After three attempts, she painfully, but determinedly passed. The coach then informed her that perhaps she should be a manager of the team rather than a player. This was a heart wrenching conversation, but yet again, the young lady was determined to play. She had the determination or perhaps the stubbornness to yet again overcome adversity.
“The pre-season tournament approached and she was looking at sitting on the bench. The team was losing and one of the starters was hurt; they substituted the young lady in. She had a serve that could knock a very tall person off her feet; she had the determination to win. She won MVP of the tournament and a place as a starter throughout her senior year. The coach came up to her after the tournament in tears; the young lady not only had a personal “win” for herself but also one for the coach.
“To this day, this coach uses the young lady as a model of not looking for the outward appearances of a star, but the inward determination, personal drive and willingness to win for the team. The young lady became my mentor on that day of the tournament and throughout her senior year as the team went to the State playoffs and she was a placer on the State team. The young lady is my daughter, Kristen.”
Kristin Jordan of AC Supply Texas also has a personal story about mentors. Not until recently, did she understand that she had the greatest professional mentors most of her life.
“As a child, young adult, and now parent I have always had generous parents and grandparents,” says Jordan. “Not just generous financially, but generous in their time, opinions and love. In 2011, I became a third generation employee at my family’s company in Fort Worth, Texas.
family has shown me how important it is to be generous in business and has given me the opportunity to be generous to my own creativity, education and outreach,” says Jordan. “Try not to accumulate, just try to contribute” is the generous philosophy I learned from my grandfather and father and is something I hope to demonstrate to others and pass down to future generations.”
Personally, I did not set out to be a mentor when I first started my blog, “Confessions of an HVAC Chick.” It was an unanticipated, but unbelievably rewarding side effect.
confession about having limited (OK, basically zero) hands-on technical field experience in HVACR despite the fact that I am running a commercial HVACR contracting business. It was something that I was and still am not proud of, but the blog was about owning it and realizing that it doesn’t need to prevent me from being a good contractor. The reaction of readers was surprisingly supportive and encouraged me to keep writing stories of my own experiences in HVACR.
Through this process of putting myself “out there” on a personal level, the most amazing thing happened. Other women reached out to me to share their stories, ask questions and discuss issues or problems that they were experiencing. At times their stories were eye-opening: from the little unexpected things like concerns about which undergarments can be safely worn to work with electricity to more dramatic systemic problems of discrimination and bullying. Having these women trust me with their stories and their struggles was both humbling and inspiring. Though I did not set out to be a mentor, I found this informal mentorship role to be an incredibly rewarding experience. This give and take of mentorship improves both the mentor and the mentee on so many levels. I am thrilled to be able to participate in the mentorship process.
Joining the HVACR industry in 2002 as second generation co-owner of Advance Air & Heat Company in Southeastern Massachusetts, Karen Lamy DeSousa has become an enthusiastic advocate for women in HVACR. Karen maintains a weekly humor blog, Confessions of an HVACR Chick, about HVACR and life as a woman in a man’s field. She is also a proud member of the Women in HVACR organization, supporter of the Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts and organizer of the Annual Women’s Business Forum.
|WHVACR is currently seeking both mentors and mentees from all aspects of the industry. Anyone interested in participating either as a mentor or mentee (or perhaps both), should contact the WHVACR Mentorship and Education Committee by email at mentorship@ womeninhvacr.org or fill out an application online at http://www. womeninhvacr.org/webapp/p/320/ mentorship.|