Growing up in a family of engineers, Morgan Perras was naturally drawn to a future in math and science. “I was always encouraged to be excited about learning how things work,” she explains.
That early start may be one reason Perras, a 2018 graduate of Clemson University, has wasted no time making an impact in her field. Now a comprehensive solutions account executive with a focus on K12 and municipalities at Trane — by Trane Technologies (NYSE:TT), a global climate innovator — Perras was recently recognized by the Manufacturing Institute as STEP Ahead Emerging Leader
At first glance, Perras’ path looks fairly typical: While pursuing her mechanical engineering undergraduate degree, she landed an internship with Trane. Perras quickly realized that a sales engineer role, which combines technical expertise with the speed and engagement of sales, was the perfect combination for her. “It allows me to be up and out of the office, engaging with customers and solving problems.”
After graduation, she accepted a full-time offer for a role she knew she’d enjoy.
But it was Trane Technologies’ big goals that really excited Perras. And the alignment of those big goals with her personal mission motivates her to make an impact every day.
Opportunity for All
As a young woman in manufacturing, Perras understands first-hand the value of visibility, mentorship, and organizational support. “I've had the benefit of having mentors, both male and female, who have really supported me.” She adds, “having role models who have pushed through and broken down barriers has been a huge help.”
When she joined Trane full-time, she wondered how she might help others experience that same kind of support. Elevating culture and communities through an inclusive approach is “a big mission for our company,” recognizes Perras. “So how do we translate that locally to helping our people on the ground?”
For Perras, the solution was to build a local network that fostered connection around shared experiences. Using the Trane Technologies’ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as a model, Perras and a colleague in Human Resources launched the New England Inclusion Network. Not only are employees able to connect with each other, Perras says, but they can channel those connections into local impact.
“We've participated in food pantries. We've participated in local bridging connections sessions, talking about these issues locally so that people can get involved and work through them together.”
The New England Inclusion Network was intentionally broad at the outset, built to welcome members across all underrepresented groups, explains Perras. Within that network, she adds, employees can find each other and their passions. “Now that we've built up this inclusion network that encompasses all of our groups, we can expand to creating individual ERGs for the greater Northeast. And hopefully those will grow and grow.”
One such ERG is the Women’s Employee Network, which is one of Perras’ own passions. Increasing women in manufacturing benefits everyone, emphasizes Perras. “It's proven that diverse teams produce better business results for both innovating and connecting with our customers.” But the biggest reason? “Women make up over 50% of people in the United States, occupying the buildings that we provide equipment, services, and solutions to every day. So if we're not thinking and creating with women in mind and with women leading these groups,” she concludes, “we're not serving our customers to our fullest potential.” While Perras has seen progress, she is convinced that more can be done. “There’s still a pay gap,” she’s quick to note.
Because workforce diversity is so important to Perras, she works as a local recruiter for Trane. She presents at career fairs, connects with organizations, and reaches out to potential employees. “It’s a long haul and sometimes we’re only making strides bit by bit, but we still have to care. We still have to try.” In just three years, those steady efforts have paid off in noticeable ways. She has seen more women promoted into management roles and increased representation on hiring panels. That last part is important, she says. “Studies have proven that if you have a diverse panel, you're more likely to hire a diverse candidate.”
What drives her messaging to young engineers? “The industry needs you exactly how you are. The manufacturing industry is exciting. It's fun. And it needs more changemakers, risk takers, and challengers. So dive in!”
Leading by Example
Perras has followed her own advice, quickly rising into her current role. One reason she has been so successful, she explains, is the company’s commitment to professional development and learning. She recently accepted an offer to pursue her MBA at Boston University. For her program, Perras has chosen social impact. “(It) directly aligns with my personal mission and Trane’s mission. So I'm really excited about that focus and that path.”
The advanced degree, she says, will not only help her serve her customers, but will also help her serve the company as it tackles another major goal: Reducing one gigaton — one billion metric tons — of carbon emissions from its customers’ footprint by 2030.
“Trane has aggressive sustainability goals with our gigaton challenge and carbon neutral operations goals by 2030. And Massachusetts, where my customers are, has very aggressive goals as well, because they have a road map to net 0 by 2050. So those are dual goals. They're mutual. They're achievable, and I believe that I can have an impact on both of them.”
Perras hopes other young engineers also see the possibility for impact within manufacturing. “When people think about sustainability and about energy conservation, they think about renewable energy. They think about solar, they think about wind, they think about traditional forms of clean energy. They don’t necessarily think about how much our buildings and our building energy usage can impact the environment and sustainability.” Buildings are responsible for roughly 40% of the world’s energy usage, she points out. If the manufacturing industry can reduce its impact through better and more efficient products, she continues, “we need to let people know. We need to get people excited about that impact and about how they can be changemakers through our organization.”
Just a few years into her career, Morgan Perras is already leading by example. “I’ve always wanted a career path that allows me to help produce positive change for my people and my community.” In her work, she adds, “I truly believe that I do get to do that every day.”
In Her Words is a three-part series highlighting the Manufacturing Institute’s 2022 STEP Ahead Award Honorees and Emerging Leaders. The STEP Ahead Awards “recognize women in science, technology, engineering and production careers who exemplify leadership within their companies. This national honor identifies top talent in the manufacturing industry and further encourages award winners to mentor and support the next generation of female talent to pursue modern manufacturing careers. The STEP Ahead Awards give women across the country a platform to showcase the incredible opportunities the industry has to offer, whether they are running the company, designing the next big product or testing innovations on the shop floor.”
Trane is a strategic business of Trane Technologies, a global climate innovator. Trane Technologies brings bold thinking to our customers to advance the conversation on sustainability and achieve more through sustainable climate solutions for buildings, homes, and transportation. We're leading the way to a better future, and we boldly go.