20 to Watch: Women in HVAC - Nazme Mohsina
Technical director, Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA) International Inc.
Name: Nazme Mohsina
Title: technical director, Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA) International Inc.
Educational Experience: Bachelor’s degree, electrical and electronic engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology; master’s degree, electrical engineering, University of Dayton.
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: Technical Leadership certificate, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
What caused you to/when did you fall in love with engineering?
I come from a family of engineers — my dad, uncle, and cousins are all engineers. At a young age, I discovered that, like them, I had a passion for problem-solving. This, combined with my strength in math and physics, further let me to pursue a career in engineering.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in the skilled trades?
Being accepted and viewed as an equal and a peer in a male-dominated industry as an immigrant Muslim woman has been extremely gratifying and humbling. Is it a “broad stroke” effort in the field of social change? Perhaps not. But it has gone a long way within my organization and for our members in demonstrating that old attitudes can change and that the “detailed touch” of an individual can impact the beliefs of many.
Describe the proudest moment in your career.
In March 2017, I was promoted to associate director of certification. In five-and-a-half years, I went from working part time checking manufacturer catalogs for compliance with AMCA’s Certified Ratings Program to directing the activities and managing the staff of the program. Then, in May 2019, I was promoted to technical director. Few people, including myself, could have foreseen that. I’m proud of everything our team has been able to accomplish in such a short time.
What challenges do women face in this profession? Can you give a personal example?
Women are held to higher standards than their male counterparts. We need to do more to demonstrate our abilities, though I recognize that what I am doing contributes greatly to my organization’s success, and know my work is appreciated and valued by my executive team and our clients. I am still sometimes slowed by momentary lapses in self-confidence and belief. While these are internal struggles that I realize are unwarranted, they have a cumulative effect in sometimes derailing, or at least delaying, my professional growth.
I firmly believe in the opportunities and benefits this country provides. Is there room for improvement? Of course. That improvement will come from combined and dedicated efforts of individuals seeing a need and making the effort to fulfil it. Recognizing such needs is what typifies a leader — the type of leader I strive to become.
It’s time to build strong professional support networks for women, by women. By supporting each other, we can make the engineering industry more welcoming for future women engineers and ultimately advance the industry as a whole.
What does your day-to-day job entail?
As technical director, I am responsible for AMCA’s laboratory operations and Certified Ratings Program. I coach, mentor, and lead cross-functional teams, overseeing staff in our headquarters and abroad while providing training sessions. I also actively participate in the ANSI/AMCA and ISO technical committees.
What drives/motivates you every day?
Fairness. Meticulousness. Dedication. I always strive for success on macro and micro levels. While I keep my eyes on the big picture and work diligently to ensure a given project is completed successfully on time, on budget, and on-the-mark, I also work to ensure that team members are aware of the role each play in the project’s ultimate success. I want them to learn new skills and gain an appreciation for not just the overall results but also their personal growth. A project is not just an assignment to be is crossed off a list but an accomplishment for the organization and for themselves. This kind of personal and professional success is often more important to me than the external results.
What remains on your engineering bucket list — what do you aspire to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?
The AMCA laboratory tests manufacturers’ products over multiple years for certification purposes. I would like to transform the AMCA lab into a research laboratory to support the HVAC industry, continue to modernize the Certified Ratings Program, and collaborate more with the laboratories of other organizations. We need to work together to achieve the common goal of saving energy for the betterment of the future.
What’s one thing no one knows about you?
Let’s not open Pandora’s box.
List any mentors who’ve helped you succeed and describe exactly how they’ve shaped your success.
Over the years, I have been remarkably fortunate to have had multiple mentors among AMCA’s membership and staff; however, I would not be where I am professionally without the support of AMCA’s executive director Mark Stevens. He continuously shows a great deal of confidence in me and gives me plenty of room to grow. Furthermore, he has set a great example as a leader with his put-the-customer-first mentality and his belief in organizational transparency. I try to follow in his footsteps.
What advice do you have for prospective female engineers considering entering the field?
Be brave. Explore. If you fall, get right back up. Cultivate relationships with senior leaders who believe in and publicly support you — they are going to be your strongest advocates. Invest in professional development opportunities; there are dozens of classes, webinars, and resources available to further your education.