Women in HVAC

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Women across the country are forming relationships to create more opportunity and a higher commonality of gender across major HVAC/R industries. Before the 21st century, it was somewhat rare to see a surplus of women working for industrial air conditioning companies. Now, times are changing, more and more ambitious women are attempting to raise awareness and create easier pathways for the younger female generation.We_Can_Do_It

This drive has led to the emergence of several organizations, one being, Women in HVAC. This organization is aspiring to provide support, mentorship, conferences, and scholarships that aid women seeking involvement within the industry. In the HVAC field, approximately 7% of construction firms are owned by women and there are even fewer technicians, only 1.2%. Nonetheless, each year, more and more women consider entering the HVAC field as a profession. With the estimated 21% increase in the need for HVAC mechanics and installers from 2012 to 2022, there is no doubt the industry will require more women to properly flourish.

All 35 female employees at BP individually participate in carrying out relationships and establishing a work ethic that creates opportunity for the company. Specifically, Nancy Falco, Lisa Caruso, and Cynthia Djongoue helped manage the BP Group to make it the success it is today.

We asked these inspiring women a few questions to get a better idea of what led them to their passionate careers in HVAC:

Nancy Falco

Title/Bio: General Manager, the BP Group. Worked with BP for over 30 years.

    1. How (and when) were you introduced to HVAC? What made you want to work in this field?

In 1987, my brother worked for an HVAC company, then known as BP Air Conditioning, now it is The BP Group. They were looking for an administrator to run their construction department and they thought I would be an excellent candidate. The BP executive team always gives their employees the opportunity to grow; through hard work, dedication, and consistency, I proved myself and received promotions earning  the position I have today.

    1. After being General Manager for over 30 years have you seen more women create careers for themselves in HVAC? (Is it harder for a woman to get a job now or back then) Is there anything that you did specifically?

More women are definitely involved in the HVAC industry.  The BP Group has women estimators, project finance managers, Vice- Presidents, purchasers, and project managers just to name a few of the woman held positions in our organizations, we are a very diverse company.  When hiring, gender doesn’t matter, as long as you are qualified for the position it does not make a difference. The problem is most women are not aware of the opportunities or careers in the HVAC industry. I still don’t know much about HVAC from the technical standpoint however, I do from a relationships standpoint and they are essential in maintaining a successful business. In fact, one client, Joan Joseph was one of the few woman facility manager’s when she started her career at Simpson Thatcher Bartlett.  Joan was respected by everyone who worked for her in the industry. Joan has since retired and still comes to visit us on occasion.  About five years ago, we hired our first female project manager, and sure enough after several good interviews we were honored to have Laura Billiot join the team. After Laura, we hired Cynthia Djongoue-Kamga both graduates of Manhattan College which happens to be one of the smartest decisions we made on hiring woman project managers. Now, I look forward to hiring our first female technician!

  1. Would you recommend younger women to join the HVAC industry? If so, do you have any advice?

Definitely. There is more opportunity today. The issue is most women aren’t aware of the opportunities within the HVAC industry. Have confidence! Don’t let the HVAC industry intimidate you. If you are honest, have integrity, and work hard (BP core values) there is nothing that can stop you.  When I interview candidates for employment here at BP they refer to us as the “Google of the HVAC Industry”, coming to work here at BP is enjoyable and I look forward to it. Look how fast 30 years has gone by.  I have been so blessed to raise a family and work in a career with such great people.

Lisa Caruso

Title/Bio: Vice President General Manager BP Air Conditioning Corp, Pace University

    1. How (and when) were you introduced to HVAC? What made you want to work in this field?

After several years of working with her father, Lisa felt it was time to spread her wings and work on her own. Since Lisa had a passion for the service industry she started applying for work within that field, soon after she landed an interview, Assistant Controller for the BP Group. “Once I walked inside, it was like a completely different place. The volume and noise of the office was exhilarating, I loved the sounds of the ringing telephones and business interactions,” said Lisa. Lisa even compared BP to a silent machine. It was clear, Lisa knew, BP was her niche.

    1. While working in the field has your gender presented any challenges? Or possibly advantages?

“Anything can be done with proper work ethic,” said Lisa. She never views her gender as a disadvantage, with her communication abilities she shares knowledge and trains employees in a manner that enhances both teamwork and cooperation. Lisa was never intimidated after adapting BP’s culture: hard work, honesty, and a nurturing attitude. Lisa is prideful towards BP’s revenue because she views it as a byproduct of the services and integrity that the company delivers.

  1. Would you recommend younger women to join the HVAC industry? If so, do you have any advice?

“Absolutely!” Lisa expressed how good customer relations are necessary to maintain a successful business. According to Lisa, “Good relationships with clients increase productivity and makes working more enjoyable”. Her energetic personality really sheds off on BP, improving the overall attitude of the office.  Lisa strongly believes that you should work in a field that you are passionate about. In fact, “After 23 years of working here I still find work fun and look forward to coming in”. At the end of the interview Lisa mentioned a very interesting point, “If you consider the amount of female vs. male employees there are a lot of females working in the office, we always welcome women at BP.” And Lisa was right! Out of the 173 workers (including technicians) BP employs over 35 females!

Cynthia Djongoue

Title/Bio: Project Manager, BP Mechanical. Manhattan College.

    1. How (and when) were you introduced to HVAC? What made you want to work in this field?

Cynthia, born and raised in Cameroon was introduced to HVAC in June of 2013. But previously she was in France completing high school and obtaining her four-year engineering degree. After, she moved to New York to complete her masters at Manhattan College. There Cynthia was assigned an internship with the BP Group as Assistant Project Manager. “The internship was able to introduce completely different perspectives of HVAC”. In fact, before the internship Cynthia only took one HVAC class in college. She also described it as an enjoyable learning experience. Over time Cynthia has developed a passion for HVAC.

    1. While working in the field has your gender presented any challenges? Or possibly advantages?

“Yes and No. Being young, female, and coming from a different country all brought challenges,” said Cynthia. One challenge she described was getting everyone’s attention. In fact, at first, workers thought she might be the new secretary. But this didn’t stop her work ethic, she still had the mindset to learn as much as possible. “When starting a new project, being a woman, people aren’t exactly sure how you will handle things,” said Cynthia. Also, at times, her accent created challenges. On the other hand, there are also many advantages. As a woman, she notices her power to form good relationships and perform in a cooperative manner, enhancing both teamwork and chemistry. “A work team requires both trust and little tension,” says Cynthia. Normally, women tend to be more calm, better listeners, and push from a different angle.

  1. Would you recommend younger women to join the HVAC industry? If so, do you have any advice?

“Absolutely!” Cynthia feels women can do anything they want to. In fact, she mentioned a Nova Group: State of being, which maintains at least 25% of women workers on site. Cynthia stated that “Women are capable, but unaware or scared to enter the industry”. Cynthia believes all you need in the field is the right training and mentality. Cynthia preaches to always have a great sense of humor, “Men tend to make more jokes in the workplace, so don’t let anything they say bother you and just laugh it off.”