June 17, 2021
Kandice Finds Her Way Back to Trane Technologies and a Sense of PRIDE
Kandice Cohen is the director of lighting strategy for Trane Technologies’ commercial HVAC business and a self-proclaimed Trane boomerang. She got her start with Trane in 2005 when she was recruited into our Graduate Training Program while completing her degree in materials science and engineering. She served as systems sales engineer and decided to leave in 2008 to pursue business development opportunities for lighting manufacturers.
Kandice built her own energy consulting business to educate companies on advanced lighting control technologies and help them navigate energy incentive programs. She quickly built up her reputation as a lighting strategy expert in the commercial building space and began designing incentive platforms for utility companies, effectively shaping the energy incentive landscape in the U.S.
In 2018, Kandice approached Trane to discuss a business relationship and came away with a full-time role leading our commercial HVAC lighting business. She created a strategy to centralize Trane’s efforts across the country and grow the business. Kandice’s leadership helped Trane become one of the largest lighting players in North America. In 2020, she landed a spot on LEDs Magazine’s first 40 Under 40 Class.
“What drew me back to Trane was the inclusive culture, authentic leadership principles and the importance placed on doing the right things – the right way – for the right reasons,” Kandice said, “such as Trane Technologies’ Diversity & Inclusion strategy and commitment to sustainability. Our purpose – to boldly challenge what’s possible for a sustainable world – aligns with the impact that I want to have on the world and the legacy I want to leave behind.”
Bringing her authentic self to work
The challenges Kandice faced as an entrepreneur led to a lightbulb moment. She realized that living authentically, both personally and professionally, translates into greater happiness and a more fulfilling life. In 2017 Kandice realized she was bisexual. When Kandice rejoined Trane in 2018, she saw a new challenge on the horizon – how to bring her true self to work.
“A colleague told me she’d spent most of her career hiding her sexual orientation, but after she got married, she proudly displayed a wedding day photo of her wife on her desk,” Kandice said. “Her ability to be vulnerable in a leadership role inspired me to also lead by example and bring my whole self to work. The first person I came out to was Donny Simmons, president of our Commercial HVAC business in the Americas. With his compassionate leadership style, he created a safe space for me to tell him what I wanted to tell everyone. It was the intangible gift I needed.”
Kandice started coming out to more people and found she was generally met with positivity and acceptance.
“It’s been a positive experience – the culture here is incredibly welcoming,” Kandice said. “So many colleagues have shown me acceptance, and I hope that I can do the same for others.
“Our leaders’ commitment to creating an inclusive environment fuels me and makes me excited to come to work every day.”
Making a difference
Kandice is making a difference in our culture, too, as a member of the PRIDE steering committee. PRIDE is Trane Technologies’ employee resource group (ERG) for LGBTQ people and their allies. One of eight ERGs that reflect the diversity of our workforce around the globe, our PRIDE ERG provides support to LGBTQ people, raises awareness around the unique struggles in the LGBTQ community, and engages employees through education and celebration. PRIDE also invites allies – people who are not members of the LGBTQ community but show support for LGBTQ people and promote equality.
“Helping lead our PRIDE ERG has been amazing,” Kandice said. “I’m honored to play a pivotal role in building our inclusive culture. Thanks to the ERG, I feel more connected to our LGBTQ community and supported by leaders and colleagues; I have the confidence to live authentically and bring my whole self to work.”
As part of Trane Technologies’ LGBTQ PRIDE Month celebration, Kandice recently moderated a panel discussion on coming out, where more than 250 employees came together to connect and share their stories. She says it was one of the most empowering work experiences she’s ever had.
“ERGs are so important because they help employees understand the unique challenges our communities face so we can all be the best allies possible uplift our people, culture and communities,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot from the ERGs I’ve joined, both an ally and a community member, and it’s my experience that membership in these groups helps us all become better professionals and better human beings.”
In addition to PRIDE, Kandice is also a member of Trane Technologies’ Women’s Employee Network; Black Employee Network; Asian ERG; VisAbility, a Disability ERG; and Global Organization of Latinos.
“The culture at Trane Technologies is more inclusive than anywhere I’ve ever worked,” Kandice said. “The leaders at other companies might say the right words and check boxes, but at Trane Technologies I see real action happening – I see quantifiable change. Our leaders are known for walking the talk. We’re challenging norms, pushing the status quo and making a real difference in the world. Our constant striving to do better gives me a huge sense of pride.”