HVAC is a growing field with a strong job outlook. In fact, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of HVACR mechanics and installers is projected to grow four percent from 2019 to 2029. However, women are largely underrepresented; In 2019, only 13 percent of active engineers were women. Johnson Controls is actively working to tear down these misconceptions by educating and empowering women in the industry and creating gender diversity in the industry. 

“At Johnson Controls, we believe increased diversity in our workforce makes us a stronger, more robust company. And we are living out this belief. We are investing in employee resource groups, such as our Women’s Global Network and Women in Ops group. Through these initiatives and many others, we are establishing diversity in leadership positions as the expected and normal way we do business. And it’s working. Women currently lead our two largest manufacturing plants and other diverse employees hold many other roles critical to our success. But we can’t rest. We are continually recruiting diverse candidates to fill positions at all levels throughout our organization,” said Joe Oliveri, vice president and general manager, Global Ducted Systems, Johnson Controls.

In honor of International Women’s Day, Johnson Controls is highlighting three remarkable female HVAC professionals.

Amelia Bardwell is the plant manager at the Johnson Controls residential HVAC manufacturing facility in Wichita, KS. Throughout her entire professional career, Amelia Bardwell has been a force and a strong female leader within the manufacturing space with a deep passion for the industry. This is clear in her everyday management of the Wichita plant. From safety to product quality to manufacturing engineering, she remains fiercely committed to continuous improvement and outperforming operational metrics.

Being a female in a male-dominated field never stopped her from achieving her goals. In fact, most of her drive and desire in engineering came from the women she interacted with in college when she was obtaining her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and later a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Oklahoma. At the time of her studies, women made up only 40 percent of the industrial engineering students. These women were driven, competitive and helped her raise her bar professionally.

As a leader, Amelia follows two key principles. The first is being visible and accessible as a plant manager at all levels within the organization. She believes that at the end of the day, people run manufacturing, so human connection with her team is extremely important for the smooth operation of the plant. The second key principle is trust. She ensures her team knows that she trusts their ability to make decisions on behalf of the company when she’s not present. This gives employees autonomy and drives them to work harder.

“What sets Amelia apart is her ability to grow relationships and engage all levels of our organization, from the shop-floor to senior leaders,” said Mike Mattacola, senior director of operations, Chillers and Ducted Systems, Johnson Controls. “She has great people skills, listen well to the needs of the team and drives quick change. As a result, Amelia has had a big impact re-energizing our team in Wichita.”

In addition, she has recently joined Johnson Controls Women in Operations steering committee, which is an internal business resource group with a focus on attracting and retaining women within operations. She also volunteers as a mentor to a female engineer through the University of Oklahoma’s Jerry Holmes Leadership Program for Engineers and Scientists, which provides leadership education for students in the Gallogly College of Engineering. Through the program, Amelia helps her mentee grow her leadership skills, nurtures her professional development, and introduces her to all the opportunities that manufacturing can offer.

Victoria Davidyock, the director of portfolio marketing for the Ducted Systems division of Johnson Controls, has a degree in mechanical engineering. While she didn’t begin her career in HVAC, she felt she could make a difference in the field when the opportunity presented itself. Working for an HVAC manufacturer is what afforded Victoria the opportunity to earn her MBA. After receiving her degree, she was promoted from marketing engineer to product manager where she had influence over a complete line of products.

In her marketing role, Victoria discovered her ability to distill technical concepts into impactful messaging and proof points that resonate with target audiences. Her expertise in marketing is complemented by her engineering background that brings an added level of precision, authenticity and credibility to her work – particularly as she speaks to both internal and external technical audiences. She’s been able to share this expertise and help mentor both younger and older technically focused product managers who typically come from an engineering background. She helps guide them in helping craft messages and plans for their products so they are more impactful, both in their delivery to their customers as well as to internal groups. This has made her a valued and indispensable asset within the commercial organization, since it’s rare to find someone who has been able to successfully blend both technical and marketing worlds.

Theresa Gillette, engineering manager for residential controls at Johnson Controls began her career at Johnson Controls. She started as an intern while she pursued her engineering degree at Wichita State University. After graduation she secured a full-time position within the engineering department. Last year, Theresa was promoted to her current role, and leads the controls group for the residential business.  Most recently, she was awarded Inventor of the Year at the 2020 Global Patent Award Ceremony.

Theresa has been one of the most prolific inventors from the Ducted Systems group, with ten new patent filings and seven grants during fiscal year 2020. She has been instrumental in developing control strategies for multiple new product introduction (NPI) projects related to zoning control solutions, thermostats, air conditioning, heat pumps, furnace and packaged unit control.

These smart controls help develop next-generation products that are energy efficient while meeting industry regulations and improving occupant comfort. Theresa’s innovative leadership has elevated our equipment and helped Johnson Controls distinguish its products from the competition. In February 2021, she will celebrate her 10-year anniversary with the company.