Having worked for many years as an
electrical journeyman, she had become
service manager at Hanlon Electric
Co., Monroeville, Pa. She was regularly
reminded of the significance of being
selected for that position. Over the years
in the midst of an all-male contingent of
electricians, she laughingly referred to
herself as “the odd man out.” Even after
being named service manager, she still
used that expression to poke fun about
being so vastly outnumbered.
But that subject was the furthest
thing from her mind that morning as she
arrived for the preconstruction meeting.
The facility manager greeted the
group, took attendance and kicked off
the discussion. The architect offered a
few general comments. The mechanical contractor’s project manager asked a
question. The bank’s corporate IT staff
member had a quick answer.
Hienz noticed something she had
never seen before in such a meeting: every
company representative was a woman.
Close to 80 percent of the U.S. economy falls under the category of services.
Today, across all industries, about 40
percent of managers are women. In
many fields, the percentage is far higher.
In the construction industry, however, the participation rate is only about
6 percent, but services continue to grow
as a share of gross domestic product.
As a result, women continue to capture
more management positions in that
segment of the economy.
These statistics have led us to ask
about the facts behind the figures: Do
women make better service managers?
We stopped for coffee with Hienz
to discuss how this relates to electrical
service work, leading off with a few questions about her own career experience.
What got you started on your way
to become the service manager at
Hanlon Electric Co.?
I never set out to be an electrical service manager. Years ago, I was working
at a job in a completely different field.
When I needed some electrical repair
work done in my first house (a real
fixer-upper), I decided I could tackle
the problem myself by taking a class on
electrical wiring at a community trade
school. I really liked it. Luckily, not long
afterward, I came across an ad for the
local JATC apprenticeship program. I
applied, was accepted into the program,
and, in my very first job as an apprentice,
was assigned to a contractor’s service
department. Everything else is history.
One day, a great boss who believed in me
asked me to take on the responsibilities
of service manager for his company.
How would you characterize your
experience as service manager?
I love it. In simple terms, it’s a great job
because it blends both mental and physical demands. It requires a balance of
both. It is rewarding because it gives you
the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve
solved customers’ problems. It’s challenging because it forces you to come
up with answers and make decisions
about how to tackle those problems.
You have to decide what’s best. You
have to rely on your own judgment. The
answer is usually not spelled out for you
on a drawing.
What does it take for someone to
be a better service manager?
You have to be a first responder! You
need the benefit of years of experience
as a qualified field electrician. You need
to have what I like to refer to as a “big bag
Do Women Make Better Service Managers?
Coffee break with Rachel Hienz, service manager of Hanlon Electric Co.
RACHEL HIENZ WOULD HAVE NEVER EXPECTED the situation that was about to unfold as she entered a bank branch
one morning. She was there for a pre-job walk-through with other representatives of companies that would soon begin renovations on the building.
HANLON ELECTRIC has long had
an impressive list of traditional
“meds and eds” and other
institutional customers. Recently,
the company added important new
clients in the shale gas industry and
emerging energy technologies.
Hanlon has been especially creative
in its sales promotions, offering
a priority service plan featuring
24-hour coverage and next-day
response, with the enticement of a
$50 rebate on the first service call.
As an example of business savvy,
Hanlon promises customers that,
for work covering both electrical
systems and data networks, Hanlon
will always dispatch an electrical
worker who is cross-trained as both
a journeyman electrician and a
fully capable of handling the job in
its entirety—with greater efficiency
and far less cost.