March 2021

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Choose to Challenge

because from challenge comes change the IWD 2021 campaign theme: so let's all choose to challenge

Ken Sinclair
Founder, Owner, Publisher

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Choose to Challenge

The March issue of our online resource is themed "Our Amazing Women Choose to Challenge" sub-theme is  "Be the Change" from our last chapter fits well, because from challenge comes change the IWD 2021 campaign theme: so let's all choose to challenge.

About International Women's Day  International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality.
Marked annually on March 8th, International Women's Day (IWD) is one of the most important days of the year to:

celebrate women's achievements
raise awareness about women's equality
lobby for accelerated gender parity
fundraise for female-focused charities
The campaign theme for International Women's Day 2021 is 'Choose To Challenge'. A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change. So let's all #ChooseToChallenge.

IWD 2021 campaign theme: #ChooseToChallenge A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

fireOne of my favorite younger mentor, my daughter has taught me over the years a better understanding of the challenges and concerns of women in the workspace. She brings a global view living in Australia writes an opening to the theme,
Why we need to #ChooseToChallenge For me, #ChooseToChallenge and International Women’s Day not only holds me to account to ensure I am doing all I can as a woman, it also allows me to learn about all of women around me. Kerri Lee Sinclair Chair SBE Australia

Challenging the status quo is difficult.  Deep in our brains, we are wired to seek acceptance from others, to follow the tribe and to seek comfort in numbers that we hardwired from our hunter gather days whereby being alone equalled certain death.

As we have evolved, we have built this fear into our language, telling our children “don’t rock the boat”, or “make a stink” and that they must “do what you are told”.    It isn’t surprising then as adults, most of us admit to being terrified of public speaking, or standing in front of group of people.

However, bringing a group of people around a simple message, like #ChooseToChallenge, makes us not only recognise the problem (in this case gender equality), but makes it safe for us to stand as a group and look back at the circle of existing acceptance around us.   The people we work with, the company who employs us, the customers we service, the problems we solve are easy for our brains to accept, as they are our safety – they accept us, and us them.

However #ChooseToChallenge raises our awareness that this perceived safety is actually a choice we make every day, in everything we do.   It is simply in our mindset.   You may have heard of growth mindset, but this Harvard Business School article explains well why all of the different parts of our mindset is important to the impact that we want to have in what we do.

For me, #ChooseToChallenge and International Women’s Day not only holds me to account to ensure I am doing all I can as a woman, it also allows me to learn about all of women around me.  Not just ones in this industry, or who have provided their insights for this issue, but outside my networks as well.
Several of their articles addressed how to attract more women to our industry and explaining How We Got Here and Where We’re Going encouraging all women to make, 
Your New Vocation, Building Automation
Our amazing Building Automation Industry has always provided a very interesting fun (and financially stable) vocation.

Investing in Our Future  Discussion Regarding Technology, Climate Change, and Education in the Building Automation Industry Kimberly Brown, Tech Services Manager

So, what does this have to do with education? In order to install and program these energy-efficient and innovative systems into our buildings, we have to invest time and money into educating the next generation of building automation and controls professionals. As of right now, companies like Cochrane Tech Services and others in the industry are evaluating our curriculum and how we can help bridge the skills gaps among technicians and programmers. However, we also need to start looking at higher education institutions and how we can affect their curriculum to produce more highly skilled workers directly from the programs that are currently being offered. There are a handful of colleges and universities looking to update their curriculum already to include building automation and controls into their programs, but by and large most programs focus on HVAC from a mechanical and residential/commercial technician standpoint and leave it at that. While it is absolutely critical to continue those programs, as there is still a skills shortage among the trades, we need to get building automation/controls added to the curriculum. Ask any contractor right now, and they are all desperate for talented BAS technicians and programmers. Updating curriculum or adding additional classes or programs to teach current building automation and controls technologies in the market will be critical to get newly graduated students setup for success.

With so few colleges or universities even teaching building automation or controls, we cannot have the ones that have picked up this charge left to figure out what to teach on their own. And the institutions that want to add to their programs need help in how to get started. They need guidance from industry leaders that understand how the industry is changing and evolving in order to update curriculum in real time. Colleges still teaching “direct digital controls” classes are mostly likely not on the leading edge of technology available.

Why Buildings Need People INTERVIEW By Natalie Patton, Q&A with Bridget Davies

For those of us in the buildings industry, it’s no surprise that we need people. The labor shortage in HVAC, controls and automation has been well documented in think pieces and trade show sessions for years. Early versions of the conversation led to coalitions between industry and education, where regional leaders teamed up with local community colleges to offer programs that train specifically for the roles that are still too hard to fill – programing and integration to name a few. But to really attract talent to the buildings industry will likely take some re-branding, not because the work isn’t interesting enough on its own but because it’s become so much more than what people traditionally think of when they imagine a career in HVAC.

In a field overwhelmingly dominated by men, attracting women into the buildings industry is an obvious way to increase the talent pool quickly. Highlighting the women already establishing a foothold here is a great start. But honing our collective elevator pitch for the industry as a whole would go a long way, too. Why should a top mechanical engineering student consider coming to work for an MSI? What is interesting about building analytics to a leading computer programmer over, say, driverless car technology? How can a socially conscious millennial make a dent in some of the world’s toughest challenges?

Women of Cimetrics: How We Got Here and Where We’re Going Let’s meet some of the amazing women of Cimetrics and learn what they do for the company, their experiences as women in technology, how they got to where they are, and what advice they have. Cimetrics is a 30-year world leader and innovator in the field of physical world analytics and is a supplier of cybersecurity and networking technology

Cimetrics has been a pioneer in attracting women to this industry. It was one of the rare companies in this field with a woman COO and one of the first companies to offer a flexible work arrangement for new mothers. It is not surprising that these women have worked for Cimetrics for an average of 12 years! 

Women comprised almost half of the total US labor force in 2019 and have earned more than half of all professional degrees for several years. This is quite a change from a few decades ago. In 1950, just over 30 percent of women aged 16 to 64 worked outside the home, while over 80 percent of men in the same age group did. While the percent of women in the workforce is equalizing, there remains a disparity in the job distribution. As of 2015, less than 10% of mechanical engineers identified as female. Similarly, at the management level, only 10% of engineering managers identified as female. 

This Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8th), Cimetrics celebrates the women working for the company:

Cochrane Supply Women on Fire  From WTF to Lighting a Spark in the Industry

Women account for approximately 35% of Cochrane Supply employees spread throughout Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Colorado. For many of these women, their first reaction to the industry and their job at Cochrane Supply was, “WTF did I get myself into?!” That similarity aside, each has a different background and story; each brings a different skillset and value to the table; each has different advice and resources they’ve utilized to thrive and reach that “on fire” category that Ken has so graciously placed them in. So when asked to contribute to the special Women’s Edition of AutomatedBuildings’ March issue, it was quickly clear it was impossible to focus on the experience and wisdom of just one female powerhouse at Cochrane Supply & Engineering.

So, for any woman considering a career in building automation and controls, their team has compiled insights and recommendations to hopefully inspire taking that next step. To join the growing percentage of women contributing to the industry. And to do it in a way that you’re not only successful, but also viewed as a Woman on Fire…

On the subject of mentorship comes this great advice
A Mentored Education Mentorships bridge experience gaps and provide a vital complement to our traditional training structures. Monica Holbrook Senior Project Specialist at Climatec

Our industry is in need of an infusion of talent. Let’s challenge the idea that this always needs to be a recent graduate, there are pools of talent in our offices now. We all have to face the challenges of a changing world. The technology curve has accelerated and today, a mentorship could easily be a shared relationship between an experienced technical specialist or engineer and an overlooked admin who understands the project workflow but lacks the technical knowledge to deploy or manage the technical aspects of a project. The wisdom of experience is important for learning how to navigate complex project hierarchies, technical applications and for seeing the big picture that might escape notice from a less experienced eye. It’s in all of our best interests to remain open to learning and mentorships as they happen, it’s not only an exercise for the young. We all need support and opportunities to learn throughout our careers. Challenge yourself and your peers to identify women in your office who would welcome an opportunity to expand their skill set. How can you help her learn more and earn more?

Other's spoke to human healing with repairing the Covid Connection Disconnection,

2021: The Year BMS will Bridge the Gap for Human Connection Why the industry is poised to bring global communities back together. Lauren Scott Director, Marketing Distech Controls

Since the industrial revolution, there has been a collective western consensus that technology would continue to propel our world forward, further strengthening our personal and professional lives. This idea, however, along with countless other previously unshakable beliefs was challenged and arguably disproven in 2020. At the start of the pandemic, many touted the beauty of virtual collaboration tools as a demonstration of our economy’s incredible ability to pivot to the remote-office model. Close to one year later, the video chat and webinar fatigue are real. Furthermore, at a time where social, environmental, and economic concerns are at an all-time high, the antidote (or at the very least the catalyst for collective solutions) is human connection. Unfortunately, the current reality has most of us still squarely separated by screens with a prolonged and often unmet need for human connection.

In a recent Acuity Brands 2020 State of Energy Management Report, respondents projected that occupancy for the spaces they manage will see a 44-point decrease for January 2021 compared to January 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19 on facility use. In connection with this reduced occupancy, respondents anticipate an increased need for higher efficiency HVAC systems and the ability to remotely manage energy programs to address occupancy reductions and other challenges as they adapt system wide performance. Thus, bringing the focus back to how the smart building community can help energy, facility and sustainability leaders with their building efficiency and performance. 

Historically, the smart building community has emphasized our ability to connect humans to the best technology for improving and enhancing productivity and occupant experience. What is becoming abundantly clear though is that we do more than that: as we connect humans to their environment and each other while in the building and beyond. In 2021 and beyond, we have the extraordinary opportunity to bring our communities back together via safer, smarter, and more sustainable connections.

Connect, connect, connect.  That is the way I experience women being the change that we want to see in the world. Leigh Sinclair Ordained Minister
The young people around me who identify as women are the other connection I need to maintain to continue to have the courage to “be the change.” When one of them “calls” me on the white privileges I take for granted, or on the fact that I got their name or pronoun incorrect, I expand as woman and as human. When I state something as “a fact” which is only true for someone who has had my economic or educational opportunities, I close myself off from connections. I seek the courage to stay connected with young women who call me back to the myriad of truth’s faces. Where would I be if I did not stay open to their advocacy?

Lastly, to be the change the world needs, we must also all have the courage to claim our own wisdom.  Connect with our inner knowledge and our life experiences. These give each of us a unique voice with which to teach and lead. Do not be bashful in expressing it! Whether it is being asked to write for a technological newsletter or preach from a pulpit – take courage, be the change and we will all experience a new world!

Choose to Challenge, Change & Connect

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