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Services is such a unique and amazing space to be in. I’ve been at Schneider Electric for 15 years now, and as a Senior Field Services Representative specializing in cooling, I can honestly say I love my job. I get to help customers as they journey toward greater digitization, electrification, and decarbonization. By proposing energy-efficient solutions and recycling approaches, I help limit waste, extend equipment life and improve efficiency. Constant problem-solving keeps things exciting, and I look forward to meeting new people and having a different “office” every day. Most of all, I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment I have after completing a data center installation or service call.
Ditching the desk job for a field services representative role
I began my career here when the company was still known as American Power Conversion (APC). Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was holding a job fair, and after visiting with APC, I knew I’d found a company where I’d have room to grow. I also liked their focus on energy efficiency. So, I happily accepted an offer in technical support. However, I soon realized that sitting at a desk wasn’t for me. I longed to be more hands-on like I was as a kid when I spent time working on cars.
I was right about the opportunity for growth, and in less than two years, I landed a new position in field services. As a mechanical engineer, I wasn’t a typical candidate. Others on my team had an electrical background, but not necessarily as an engineer. There was a bit of a learning curve, but my team was supportive. They appreciated my computer and programming skills, and we all helped each other. I learned a lot very quickly and realized my knowledge of the mechanical aspects of thermodynamics (air conditioning, heat transfers, fans, wear and tear on parts, etc.) made me a great fit for the cooling side of things.
New places, new faces, new opportunities to improve efficiency
As a field service engineer, I visit a variety of locations – manufacturing plants, schools, universities, businesses, and defense contractors. In doing so, I work on data centers of all sizes, focusing on cooling. These projects include commissioning new equipment, repairs, and regular maintenance and preventative maintenance on all types of HVAC equipment. Every day is different, giving me a new opportunity to help our customers.
Improving energy efficiency is at the center of everything I do, and I regularly work with customers to identify areas for improvement. Sometimes the changes I make are as simple as adjusting airflow movement or tweaking system settings to help reduce the amount of energy to accommodate the heat load of the data center. Other times I provide suggestions on products that would be helpful or programming adjustments that can help air conditioners run more efficiently or have a longer life.
The initial startup and commissioning of a new data center from the ground up is something I really enjoy. I often install the data center when there’s still construction going on in the building. It’s great to see a project in the beginning stages and then come back later, visit with the customer, and see the data center in action, doing its job perfectly.
The work I do is very collaborative, and I often visit the same job site multiple times. As a result, I’m able to form close customer relationships. I love getting to know people and catching up with them. I always make a point to ask about jobs and families and enjoy chatting about the local sports teams.
An environment of empowerment and support
Working as a field services representative, I appreciate how Schneider Electric makes its employees’ safety a top priority. It’s especially reassuring that no matter where I’m working, if I feel the least bit uncomfortable about my safety, I have stop-work authority for our employees and other contractors working alongside us. There’s never pushback. I have the complete backing of the company. This gives me the time to make adjustments and complete the job in the safest manner possible.
Schneider Electric is unique in that they empower you to adjust the things you need to do your job well. Whether it’s technology, manpower, time, or something else, they’re there for us. They really do set us up for success. At any point, I know I have access to the tools I need– laptop, cell phone, tools, safety equipment, whatever it takes to make my job easier or more efficient. For example, one time, a large cooling system needed to be replaced in an older building with no elevators. It was a simple call to my manager, and I had a dedicated rigging company at my disposal to safely bring this 400+ pound unit down to the ground floor data center.
The team I work with is another source of support. We have such a great group here in New England, and we’ve become very close. If I’m finishing up a job and see that a coworker needs a hand, I help, always knowing they’d do the same for me. Working as a team, we’re really effective – and it’s a lot of fun! It’s easy to forget that I’m the only woman on my cooling team, as everyone treats me with respect and makes me feel comfortable.
It’s also nice to work for a company that respects my time and the work/life balance. As field service engineers, we often work unconventional hours. We can even be called out in the middle of the night on an emergency. But with Schneider Electric, we know we’re guaranteed not to work over a certain number of hours when that happens. And hotel rooms are always available to ensure we’re safe and well-rested. At the same time, any time I’ve ever needed family or leave time, it’s provided with the full support of my managers and teammates.
A feeling of success I want to share with others
When I achieve a goal or finish a project, I feel a great sense of accomplishment, knowing I can return to a client months later and see my work in action. I take pride in knowing that I installed a data center. I brought everything together. I’m responsible for the effectiveness and efficiency of the system. I own it.
The ability to help our clients is something I genuinely enjoy, and Schneider Electric provides a level of support and opportunity that’s rare. I recommend working at Schneider Electric to all kinds of people – especially those who have knowledge in the area of energy efficiency. Being part of a team constantly working to innovate and improve in this area is so important. Not only does it make for a great career – it makes for a healthier planet for all of us.
Interested in a field services representative career?
If you’re inspired by my story, learn more about a career in services. Services has unique career development opportunities from the full job spectrum (inside sales, consultative sales, hunting, and farming profiles) as well as the entire family of operations jobs, from tendering and execution—including planners—to remote support and digital services.
Schneider Electric is recruiting 2,500 Services experts worldwide, with more to come. Services is the place to have a real impact on a decarbonized world! Learn more and apply today.
About the Author
Charlotte Barton is a Senior Field Services Representative in Schneider Electric’s North American Operations. In her role, she helps customers with various cooling-related service projects, including startups, preventive maintenance, and break-fix work, where she troubleshoots and replaces parts. Charlotte studied mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and when she got to the work world, quickly realized she didn’t want to be stuck at a desk job. She thrives on being on the move with a new office almost every day and being onsite to help her customers. Growing up, she quickly realized that she enjoyed a hands-on challenge. As a child, she worked on cars and thought, “I can learn that.” She applies that same approach to learn about data center cooling solutions even though she had more mechanical than electrical training. Charlotte lives in Massachusetts and is married to her high school sweetheart who works in nuclear engineering as a certified health physicist.
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