York, PA, March 2, 2023 -- Employment of HVAC mechanics and installers is projected to grow 5% from 2021 to 2031 with more than 20,000 job openings estimated each year on average over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Despite the vast opportunity and ongoing skilled trades labor shortage, women remain significantly underrepresented – only making up 2.3% of HVAC mechanics and installers in 2022.
Johnson Controls is actively working to increase the number of women in HVAC through education and initiatives that support gender diversity, including its Women’s Global Network and Women in Ops group. The company is committed to building a diverse and inclusive team that will continue to help attract the best talent and drive best-in-class performance of products and services. Part of living out that belief is recognizing the remarkable professionals making a difference in the HVAC industry. In honor of International Women’s Day, Johnson Controls is shining a light on three of them.
Bridget Klinke is a persevering leader within the ducted systems business at Johnson Controls, working as a senior manager business systems analyst. She started her career more than 20 years ago at Johnson Controls (York International at the time) as an IT support intern. Today, she leads a team of highly skilled professionals, including business analysts, software developers, architects and quality assurance analysts. Together, they support web, desktop, and mobile HVAC tools, working in close collaboration to establish, prioritize, test, and release business and customer requirements.
Over the course of her two-decade career, Bridget has witnessed firsthand notable changes in the representation of women at Johnson Controls. “At Johnson Controls, we have taken steps to promote inclusivity and create a supportive environment for all employees,” she said. “One of these steps includes establishing business relationship groups specifically for women, which provides valuable resources and support to employees. I am proud to be part of an organization that recognizes and values diverse perspectives and contributions of its employees.”
For women considering entering the HVAC field, she believes it's essential to build a robust support system for both your personal and professional life. Joining professional organizations, networking with other women in the industry, and seeking out a mentor can be an excellent way to build these relationships and gain support when needed.
Secondly, Bridget believes it's crucial to advocate for yourself and speak up when you encounter bias or discrimination. “Don't let anyone make you feel small or marginalized in your role,” she said. “Remember, you have a valuable contribution to make to the industry, and your voice deserves to be heard.”
In her free time, Bridget enjoys attending her daughter’s swim meets, spending time with family and friends, shopping and traveling.
Nan Gordon is a passionate, hands-on AME manufacturing engineer who started her career at Johnson Controls in 1996 (York International at the time) working as an entry-level manufacturing line engineer. She worked her way up to senior manufacturing engineer and has installed or revitalized more than a dozen assembly lines at the Johnson Controls commercial HVAC manufacturing plant in Norman, OK.
She then became the supervisor of the assembly engineers and was heavily involved in new product development. In Nan’s current role as project engineer, she focuses on installing assembly lines to support the demand for current products as well as new products being introduced over the next two years at the Norman facility.
Nan has two mentors throughout her career that have truly shaped who she is as an engineer. The first is her current supervisor Rick Canada who has taught her that no matter the size of the project, it’s the attention and care to all the details, regardless of how small they may seem, that make the project successful.
Her second influence was Vicki Davis who was the first woman in leadership that Nan worked with as she watched Vicki progress from line supervisor to plant manager. “Her example of how to be a strong woman who is respected for her knowledge and leadership has shown me that there are no limits to what women can achieve in the manufacturing industry,” said Nan.
She has found that being dismissed or condescended to by male leaders is the biggest challenge she has had to overcome in her career in a predominantly male industry. However, as more female engineers entered into manufacturing, the environment has changed in a positive way that values what women bring to the table. Her advice to other women in the industry is to stand your ground and always speak the truth.
Outside of work, whether the sun is out or not, you can find Nan outside exercising her passion for gardening.
Regan Axtell is an engaging and collaborative senior product manager at Johnson Controls who is never afraid to ask questions, something she deems has driven her career success. She works closely with research, engineering, manufacturing and sales teams, as well as customer partners to develop the product road maps for residential HVAC equipment. This process includes competitive analysis, voice of customer, regulatory compliance, product development, marketing and training with sales and distribution teams to ensure products meet customer demands, and manufacturing timelines and budgets.
Early on in Regan’s career, she was fortunate to have a female manager and also works with one today. In both cases, their intelligence, passion, outspokenness and ability to keep cross functional teams engaged and working towards the same goal have helped shape the way she’s handled her career. They taught her to never stop asking questions.
Being a female, and relatively new to the HVAC industry, Regan made it her goal early on to not let either of those two factors get in the way of her career growth and ability to confidently manage a product. Standing tall, eye contact and active listening have given her the ability to gain and show respect to the people she’s communicating with. She’s found that operating with confidence and remaining engaged can, in most instances, outweigh any bias towards her gender or experience level.
Outside of work, Regan enjoys reading and spending time with her family traveling, boating and watching her kids at their activities.