20 to Watch: Women in HVAC - Tiffany Rourke
Account manager systems — team leader, Trane
Name: Tiffany Rourke
Title: Account manager systems — team leader, Trane
Educational Experience: B.S. mechanical engineering
Professional Credentials/Accreditations: LEED
Organizational Affiliations/Achievements/Awards: Puget Sound ASHRAE board of governors for seven years, Puget Sound ASHRAE secretary, treasurer, president-elect, president, and current past-president. Trane Top 10 salesman 2016 and 2017.
When did you fall in love with engineering? My dad was a mechanical engineer and is one of the people I admire the most. I think I always wanted to be an engineer, so I could be just like him. Math and science came easy to me in school, and my father encouraged me to go into engineering from a very young age.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in the skilled trades? The most rewarding aspect has been the relationships and friendships I have formed. When I am having a bad day, I get in the car and go see a customer, they always help re-energize me and help me focus.
What challenges do women face in this profession? Why aren’t there more women in engineering?
I think that the HVAC industry is still viewed as a man’s world. In some ways it has been harder for me to connect with customers because they are used to working with a male. I think there aren’t as many women in the industry because it is not promoted well to students starting at a young age and all the way to university.
Describe what your job entails on a day-to-day basis.
I am an account manager for Trane in our Seattle office. I work closely with design build contractors and engineers. Every day is different, which is what I love the most about my job. I support the design community with innovative ideas on how to best apply HVAC equipment to ensure they have an efficient system but will also provide tenant comfort or the needs of the space. I spend time on job sites with the construction team looking at outdated equipment or new installations. I’m also the team leader for the systems team at Trane. In this role I run our sales meetings, help with technical guidance, and develop bidding strategies.
What drives/motivates you every day? The relationships I have built in the industry motivate me every day. I’m proud of the company I work for and I want my clients to be happy with what we have collectively designed and installed.
Describe the proudest moment in your career.
I worked on a multiple high rise project for more than six years. The first time I set foot in the chiller plant I was so proud to be part of such an amazing project. I ended up providing the equipment for every space in the two buildings. That was the largest job I’ve ever worked on. I was an integral part of the design and construction process, and my customer treated me like a partner. The property is close to my home and my family shops and eats there often. It makes me proud every time I’m there.
What remains on your engineering bucket list — what do you aspire to do that you haven’t done yet?
I would love the opportunity to mentor a female account manager. I wish that I had a female mentor at the beginning stages of my career.
What’s one thing no one knows about you?
My father worked for an oil company, which led my family to move every couple of years. I actually finished my high school degree in Cairo, Egypt. Moving so often forced me to meet new people and create relationships, which helped make me successful at my job in account management and sales.
List any mentors who’ve helped you succeed and describe exactly how they’ve shaped your success.
I’ve had a few mentors in my career. Very early on, I was partnered with a great Trane account manager in our Phoenix office. He taught me to be organized, detailed, and how to work through the hard conversations. He taught me the value of talking to people rather than emailing and the importance of going to see customers, especially in difficult situations. More recently, my mentor is my sales manager. He has allowed me to take on a leadership position within my team and provided the tools to becoming a better leader. He has taught me patience and how to understand different personalities. My sales manager has also enhanced how I strategically think about things that I am working on.
What does the future hold for you?
This is always a tough questions to answer. I will continue to concentrate on my most important and rewarding job, raising my two sons. Professionally, I’m truly happy working with my amazing customers and for a great company. I hope to continue to lead my sales team and work as a Trane account manager in the Pacific NW.
What advice do you have for prospective female engineers considering entering the field? Jump in, as engineering is an awesome career with endless possibilities. You can work for so many different types of companies in numerous roles with an engineering degree.