Ana and fiancee in front of mountain landscape

Why We Boldly Go: Embracing Cultural Heritage to Live Authentically

Ana Llanos is empowered to bring her whole self to work, sharing her heritage with her team and advocating for diversity and inclusion—she also uplifts her community through STEM education.

At Trane Technologies, we are passionate, pioneering people connected by a bold purpose. Our employees uplift others, and build a culture that is diverse, inclusive, respectful, and driven to provide opportunity for all.

Ana Llanos didn’t set out to be an engineer. “I wanted to be a doctor,” she admits. “I’m not sure why; it’s just that I always wanted to be hands on, and I love talking to people.” But in high school, she discovered physics — and the value of mentorship. “I had a teacher who was a mechanical engineer, and she pushed me,” explains Ana. “I loved it.”

That initial passion for physics led to an internship and career with Trane Technologies, where Ana now works full time as a product development engineer in Charlotte, NC. 

Still hands on and people-oriented, Ana makes an impact well beyond her technical expertise, bringing her full self to her work, her teams, and her community.

“I feel empowered,” Ana explains, “not just as an engineer, but as a female in engineering. I feel empowered to be who I am in terms of my ethnicity and my culture. I don’t have to repress or hide parts of myself at work. And I like that. I like that a lot.” 

Inclusive workplace culture matters, Ana adds, because “essentially, it means I can work without worrying about whether I belong, while also getting the affirmation from the broader enterprise that ‘Hey, we see you, we hear you, and we acknowledge you.’”

The value of culture

Born in a small coastal town in Ecuador, Ana Llanos immigrated to Canada when she was three years old. At eighteen, she came to the United States to attend college. Her Latin American roots, she says, are central to who she is. “My first language is Spanish. I strongly identify with my Hispanic heritage. I speak Spanish to my mom and my relatives back home — a lot of my family still lives in Ecuador. I try to visit as much as I can. I embrace it. I love it. Whether it's food or music, it's really just fundamentally a part of who I am.”

Ecuador, located on the northwest coast of South America, is perhaps best known for its vibrant ecological diversity, including the famed Galápagos Islands. But the food, notes Ana, is just as remarkable. She is quick to recommend her mother’s ceviche as a personal favorite.

Much diversity exists within the Hispanic American diaspora, acknowledges Ana, but she also recognizes certain shared values. “Hispanic culture as a whole is very welcoming and warm. We are people who have loud words but kind words,” she admits with a smile. “I think that has empowered my voice and my confidence.” 

“Having a network of people who support and encourage each other is very important. GOL is a formal acknowledgment from Trane Technologies that heritage and culture matter. I love being able to share a piece of who I am with the company, especially with people who are so willing to learn — who are excited about it. I think this is how we grow as humans.”

Ana Llanos

Product Development Engineer

Ana uses her own warmth and confidence to champion others. As a co-chair of the Global Organization of Latinos (GOL) employee resource group, she works tirelessly to build and sustain formal and informal networks of support, growth, and learning, while centering and celebrating Latinx cultures and heritages.

“Having a network of people who support and encourage each other is very important,” explains Ana. GOL, she adds, is a formal acknowledgment from Trane Technologies that heritage and culture matter. “I love being able to share a piece of who I am with the company, especially with people who are so willing to learn — who are excited about it. I think this is how we grow as humans.”

But her favorite thing about her involvement with GOL? “I love to see my colleagues succeed. I love hearing about their promotions or hearing about a new job that they're taking. And it's even more special when it's someone who is from the same culture as I am, who understands or has experienced the same struggles.” 

Inspiring the next generation

Ana teaching student in classroom

Ana understands firsthand the challenges facing young Latinas, in particular, who are often navigating both language and gender barriers. 

That’s why for her, inspiring the next generation of Latinas in STEM is paramount. “This year, we partnered with Project Scientist right here in Charlotte, and I was able to volunteer with a girls’ STEM club for third and fourth grade girls who were all Hispanic. They were being taught in Spanish and learning in Spanish, and I left feeling so hopeful and so excited for them.  Because I didn't have that when I was growing up. I didn't see anyone (in STEM) who looked like me.” 

It’s easier to imagine becoming what you can already see, says Ana. And for this particular group of students, she adds, it’s empowering to explore careers and topics in their native language. “Sometimes you have to repress that when you go to school,” she explains. “But this is a space where they are able to speak in Spanish, learn in Spanish, and be curious. They’re smart. They’re funny. And I hope that we continue to empower Hispanic people as a whole and especially young Latina girls.” 

Ana, whose free time involves lots of outdoor adventuring with her fiancé and Zeppelin, the Golden Retriever, is paving the way for future generations with authenticity, resolve, and a commitment to growth. 

“My hope for the future is that we continue to become even more empathetic and open-minded. I just don't think we, as a society, are where we're supposed to be yet. But if we continue to be resilient in our quest to share who we are and how we’re alike, I know we'll continue to progress.” 

ana and fiancee hiking

Ana Llanos and her fiancé William hiking.

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