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In our April Women In PHCP spotlight, we invite you to meet Dani Wernert, learning and development specialist manager for Peterman Brothers!
PHCPPros: What is your role in the PHCP industry?
Wernert: I oversee the Top Tech Academy at Peterman Brothers, an internal trade school that graduates more than 50 students into the HVAC and plumbing industries each year. From the time our recruiting team starts to connect with future students and schedules interviews until they graduate and transition to their new department, I am a resource to ensure our students are successful. With more than 1,300 applicants per semester, I am honored to be a part of the process that hand selects the top 2 percent for this life-changing opportunity.
PHCPPros: How and why did you decide to enter a career in the PHCP industry?
Wernert: When I applied with Peterman Brothers, I had just lost my job and also learned that we were expecting our first child. With a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, I had no idea of the opportunities that were waiting for me in the trades. I was selected for the opportunity to start as Chad Peterman’s executive assistant and grow with an amazing company that has blessed my family with so much. They have given me the ability to lead with grace and develop a passion for the trades that I never knew existed.
PHCPPros: What have been some of your career highlights?
Wernert: Creating the Top Tech Academy is by far my biggest career accomplishment. I often joke that my career peaked at 26 because of this! I am proud of being able to say I promoted into my past positions with both Peterman Brothers and my previous retail management roles, always starting at the entry level. This is important to me as we, as leaders, can provide a sense of empowerment to our team members when they know hard work is rewarded. Outside of this, I have been truly honored to lead some of our annual philanthropy initiatives and give back to our Indiana community.
PHCPPros: What are your thoughts on mentorship for women?
Wernert: My mom has always been my best friend and provides the emotional support I need when I’m facing challenges. She is my No. 1 mentor! In the workplace, our director of operations, Kristy, has always been such a role model for me. She’s able to provide empathy and tough love when you need it and supports your ability to learn as a person. She’s earned her respect in a male-dominated industry, and everyone I know would say they can put their whole trust in her. She is truly who I hope to be in my career one day.
While we don’t currently have a mentorship program, I like to think that I am a resource for the other women in our company. One thing I pride myself on is my ability to see the light in the dark when others maybe can’t, so I think this gives other women the comfort and trust they need to talk about things when they are looking for hope in a difficult situation. They know they can come to me, and we are able to find the silver linings together and refresh for the day with the encouragement that someone else is in their corner to help when they need it.
PHCPPros: What do you think the PHCP industry can do to better recruit and retain women?
Wernert: Retaining our women to me is no different than retaining our great team members in general. Create an amazing work culture that stands behind what is said, support them as people with lives that matter outside of the business, and put a genuine interest in their development and who they are. That is how you keep great people.
When it comes to recruiting women, I think we need to take an approach that many don’t talk about. We know what gets people into the trades (working with their hands, job security, etc.), but what keeps them out of the trades? Is it a matter of feeling unsafe in a stranger’s home, or struggling to access childcare, or something we haven’t discovered yet? How do we identify what is stopping women from jumping into the trades, and then how do we fix it?
PHCPPros: Is there anything from your personal life you would like to highlight?
Wernert: Growing up I heard so many times, “You have to go to college if you want to be successful,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. I want to just say that YOU are the only person that defines your success! The trades are an amazing opportunity with unlimited avenues for growth. Jump in, try something that scares you, and know that you have all the support in the world.
Do you know someone you would like to nominate for our Women In PHCP newsletter series? Email PHCPPros Digital Strategy Manager Nicole Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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