Why We Boldly Go: Thriving in a Career and Paying it Forward
April 13, 2022
Yolanda Warren is thriving at work while breaking the bias and uplifting women in manufacturing.
3 min read
At Trane Technologies, we all have the opportunity to thrive at work and in life. Supported by comprehensive learning and development solutions, our people enjoy rewarding careers and many avenues to grow.
Yolanda Warren had been a small business owner in the 1990s, creating custom canvas awnings and other designs, when the rising costs of healthcare made it nearly impossible for her to stay in business for herself. She took on a role as assembler in Trane Technologies’ Residential HVAC manufacturing facility in Tyler, Texas, to provide healthcare benefits for her family—and she stayed for the growth and development opportunities.
Working in a big manufacturing plant was a major adjustment for Yolanda, and at first, she wasn’t sure it was the right fit. But advice from her mentor, a 30-year company veteran, helped her get clear on what was most important.
“She said, ‘Focus on what you really came here for, give yourself a chance, and see where it takes you,’” Yolanda said. “I took that advice to heart and decided to stay. I became involved in quality walks and signed up for leadership trainings so I could learn more about how the business works. And I developed a passion for being here—I felt like I was needed, and this is where I belong. I could really make a difference—and here I am 27 years later.”
Yolanda took her growth and development seriously as she advanced in her career, learned different aspects of the business, and even served as plant chief steward for the union while also working on the shop floor.
Today Yolanda is unit manager in our Tyler facility, with 12 direct reports—a mix of production supervisor and engineer direct reports, and hundreds of people under her. She is one of two unit managers on the floor serving first shift assembly operations, so she effectively oversees a great portion of the facility. She says her eagerness to learn and grow, along with mentorship from senior employees, helped her get where she is today—and now she’s paying it forward.
“Just like they say it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to grow and develop at work,” she said. “Having that village of support was huge for me in my career, and now a big part of my role is to help others with their growth and career development, not only in the workplace but, in their personal lives as well. I’m making sure they have clear goals and targets that are achievable, measurable and help them understand how they correlate to the business.”
I’m modeling for other women that it’s possible to grow in your career and achieve the role you want.
Yolanda says the greatest challenge of her career, including her time as a business owner, is simply being a Black woman in a role typically held by white men.
“I’m the only female at my level on the shop floor, and obviously the only Black woman,” she said. “It can be a struggle to build a network around you and have a voice in the room. It requires holding onto your confidence, knowing your purpose and making sure you have a good support system.”
She’s breaking the bias—at work and in her family, where her two adult daughters are successful in their own right—by paving the way for other women and leading by example.
“Paving the way for women, regardless of color or culture, is huge for me,” Yolanda said. “I’m proud to walk through the plant every day as a woman in a historically male-dominated industry. I carry myself in a way that others may notice so leading by example comes easy. I’m modeling for other women that it’s possible to grow in your career and achieve the role you want. My aim is to uplift and pique the interest of women outside the jobs they normally do and break down barriers.”
Over the years, Yolanda watched and participated in the culture shift as more and more women joined the ranks in our Tyler plant, from assemblers and operators to supervisors and other demanding roles.
“My advice is to build a network around you, look for sponsors and mentors, and get out of the scope of your work—and choose someone to bring along,” Yolanda said.
To people who want to work for Trane Technologies. She says, do it.
“It’s fast paced. There’s plenty of opportunity to grow and develop. Whatever you can ask for is here—benefits, retirement, a future. You’re truly able to make a difference here. If I had to go back in time 27 years and start again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d do it the exact same way.”
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