May 4, 2021
From Sales Engineer to Portfolio Leader, Jennifer Felsburg Shares Her Career Advice
You don’t often hear a child say, “I want to be a district manager when I grow up!”. But Jennifer Felsburg, Trane’s light commercial unitary portfolio leader, had her heart set on it.
Joining Trane after graduating from Purdue University with a civil engineering degree Jennifer quickly climbed the ladder, moving to various locations around the country with each new role. Within 15 years, she had reached her childhood goal – becoming Trane’s first female district general manager.
“I was ecstatic,” she says, “But I also thought, well now what do I want to be when I grow up?”
Networking and credibility – driving forces
Jennifer has had several notable ‘firsts’ while working for Trane.
After accepting a sales engineering manager position which moved her to Sacramento, she joined the local ASHRAE chapter where she became its first female president. The pattern repeated a few years later when a promotion took her to San Diego, where she was again elected to the local chapter’s board.
“Working for Trane provides the perfect opportunity to showcase both my social and technical skills,” Jennifer says. “When I meet someone just entering the workforce, or a person embarking on a new career path, I always stress the importance of networking. Join an ASHRAE or BOMA chapter, hold a position. You’ll speak in front of our customers and your competition and gain instant credibility.”
Credibility was a driving force for Jennifer, especially as she worked her way up the company in a historically male-dominated industry. “I’ve never let that slow me down, and have never given it much thought,” she says. “I’ve always known that I’m just as capable as anyone else in this business. We all have to prove ourselves, regardless of gender.”
Don’t know your career path? Perfectly acceptable
Jennifer recently discussed sustainability – and how sales engineers can create a global impact – with a mechanical engineering class at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). She encouraged them to take advantage of the prestigious networking organizations in the manufacturing space while underscoring the need to explore all aspects of the industry to see where they might have the biggest impact.
She also emphasized that not knowing what career route to take is perfectly acceptable.
“Engineers are traditionally the kids that got straight A’s in high school, but I can’t say that was me,” she says. “I’ve seen students drop out because there were getting B’s or maybe even a C once or twice. But you must stick with it and keep going. You don’t have to decide right now what you want to do for the rest of your life, or already be excellent at it. You’ll learn what excites you, and how you can make a difference in both large and small ways.”
Sustainability: an unwavering message
After two decades with Trane Jennifer can immediately recall what first piqued her interest in the company, an integral factor that remains so to this day – sustainability.
“Twenty years ago when I was first starting out, Trane’s philosophy focused on a holistic approach: use the right product, for the right building and customer, at the right time,” she says. “We’ve expanded our goals with bold 2030 Commitments, but our message has never changed. That’s truly unique, and I’m extremely proud to be part of a company working every day to reduce our customers’ and our own carbon footprint.”
Jennifer now leads one of Trane’s largest portfolios, with highly efficient products located everywhere from major fast food and restaurant chains to school classrooms.
“My team is creating the cutting-edge, innovative solutions that will be around for the next 20-30 years, and that’s pretty amazing,” she says. “We’re doing exactly what I’ve always encouraged others to do – find what excites you and make an impact. It’s come full circle.”
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