Cindy Sheridan CEO of PHCC
Cindy Sheridan is Chief Executive Officer of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC).
On the surface it could look like an overnight success story when after three weeks as interim CEO, Cindy Sheridan was named CEO of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association (PHCC).
But to those who know Cindy Sheridan, the position was the culmination of a long and successful career for PHCC, totaling 23 years. First leading as Director of Membership in 2000, in 2009 she was promoted to Vice President of Member Services. Sheridan was most recently the PHCC Educational Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer, where she oversaw the development of innovative programs to help develop a highly skilled and well-educated industry workforce.
Southern PHC recently talked to Cindy about her career, what she is most proud of and what is next.
How did your past experiences prepare you for your current role as CEO for PHCC?
I’ve always had a passion for association management. Prior to PHCC, I was in leadership positions for the Bank Marketing Association and the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives. When I transferred those skills to PHCC in 2000, coming onboard as Membership Director, I quickly realized the essential role that plumbing and HVACR professionals play in protecting the health and safety of society … and their passion became my passion.
My experience in membership was really important in my success here. I believe that membership is the “heart and soul” of an association. I’m a relationships person, and having visited so many members, you really get to understand the industry and the members and what they need. I then took the helm as Chief Operating Officer of PHCC’s Educational Foundation in 2010, serving in that role for 12 years and making great strides in delivering powerful educational opportunities for the success of the plumbing and HVACR professional. I got to dig deep into the workforce piece and help prepare individuals for crucial careers in the trades, and workforce continues to be my passion to this day.
As CEO at PHCC, I’m excited to build on all my experiences with PHCC and in this industry and to collaborate with our PHCC leaders, members, chapters, and staff on initiatives that will make our great association even stronger.
Have you had any Ah-ha moments?
When I started at PHCC, I did not realize how essential that the trades are to the well-being and safety of society. These professionals play essential roles in providing clean air and water. I also did not know how proud the members are of their industry.
In your new role as CEO you are also the organization’s first female CEO. How do you plan to use your platform and voice to educate and encourage more women to join PHCC, and get involved in a trade?
Well, I’m proud to serve as the first female CEO in PHCC’s 140-year history, and I’m in good company here. PHCC has women contractors who own their own companies, women who are executive directors of PHCC state chapters, women chapter presidents … the list goes on. I think that by these women sharing their stories and personally getting more involved in workforce development, we’re doing more to attract and educate women than ever before.
One of the best ways to attract women to the industry is to show women in the industry! Younger women see female role models in the industry and realize “that can be me.” We share several videos about women in the industry that we use to help raise awareness of the career opportunities for females in the trades. And we’re seeing signs that it’s making a difference. We have several female scholarship recipients every year; our female business owners and techs are gaining positive exposure in the industry; and just two years ago, a female won our HVAC National Apprentice Contest!
What achievements are you the most proud of during your time at PHCC? And, why?
There are several initiatives that I am particularly proud to have worked on during my career at PHCC. The biggest one is probably the PHCC Educational Foundation’s leading role in 2012 to prepare technicians to install the new lead-free products that were a result of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. The entire industry – manufacturers, trade associations, and code bodies – came together to form the Get the Lead Out Plumbing Consortium and trained more than 4,000 professionals on the new lead-free laws. I’m not sure that type of collaboration had ever happened before, and it was a lesson and an example for the future of what we can accomplish when we work together. I was COO at that time…. I am most proud that everyone came together with the goal of training techs to prepare for the act.
I’m also proud of the Foundation’s work in 2017 to launch a learning management system and create the PHCC Academy®. Since then, more than 6,000 students have enrolled in the Foundation’s world-class online courses. We saw a need to offer an educational platform where students had more flexibility, since many of them need to schedule their apprenticeship courses, for example, around work or to accommodate their daycare or elder care responsibilities (not to mention those who live in more rural areas without access to brick-and-mortar classrooms). Little did we know that – in 2020 – that platform would be a lifesaver in educating the workforce during the pandemic, so the timing was perfect!
Bill Jones, former Chairperson of the PHCC Educational Foundation Board of Directors, has said that PHCC has been able to provide exceptional educational programs even during times of economic downturn. What do you attribute that to? And, what role did you play?
I attribute it to the support of our member contractors, industry partners, and other donors who recognize the value of the education we’re providing and selflessly give of their time and money. They realize that we’ve built a reputation for becoming THE source for plumbing and HVACR industry education and training, and with that reputation comes a responsibility to remain relevant and to fill in the crucial workforce shortage. They also acknowledge that this industry has provided a good life for them and their families, and they truly want to give back and know that it’s in good hands moving forward.
In addition, the pandemic and the economic uncertainty in the past few years have only reinforced that this is an essential industry, both in the eyes of the consumers and with government. Everyone feels it when there is a threat to things like water and air. So while no one wants to face a crisis, the pandemic and things like supply chain issues have actually boosted that awareness and the importance of our industry.
You are a known advocate for workforce development, training and education. What can you tell us about PHCC programs to address these needs in the trades?
The Educational Foundation has a comprehensive path of programs for those entering the plumbing and HVACR profession to move students through at the correct level in their careers and to get them to be licensed professionals. It starts with a Workforce Readiness course that’s geared to attract more people into the industry, then moves into a Pre-apprentice course that assesses their “fit” and prepares them for success in what follows: either a Fast Track course that offers comprehensive entry-level training for employees who are going to provide residential or commercial service and repair work, or our four-year Department of Labor-recognized Plumbing and HVACR Apprenticeship program.
The Foundation also offers construction management courses for those in foremen or project manager positions, as well as a seminar series for those in business management positions.
For business owners, the PHCC Training and Education Department offers monthly webinars and other business management training, including our new (and already very popular!) Finance Boot Camp. This comprehensive boot camp consists of nine modules that help business owners understand the fundamentals of finance and make smart financial decisions for the health of their businesses. Those interested can take one or take all nine of these self-paced online programs or can tackle the entire Boot Camp during one of our in-person sessions.
Can you tell us about your vision/future goals for the organization as a whole?
I certainly plan to continue to work to close the skills gap and promote the value that plumbing and HVACR industry careers offer. As I said before, workforce is my passion. And, after 22 years of building relationships on behalf of PHCC and the Foundation, I feel that I have the experience, familiarity, emotional intelligence, and commitment to make a positive impact on PHCC as CEO and help the association meet its strategic goals. We have a strong Strategic Plan in place, centered on Membership, Public Awareness, Workforce Development, Member Resources, and Organizational Readiness. This keeps us laser-focused on our priorities that will better serve our members and position them as “contractors of choice” in their areas as well as advance our association and the industry.
How do you plan to put these strategies in motion?
By increasing collaboration among all levels of our association and with our industry partners (manufacturers, distributors, supply chain partners and other trade associations), I believe all of the strategic goals are very achievable. Working together, we will strengthen the association, not just through recruitment and retention numbers, but through increased engagement among the members we have now.
I look forward to promoting PHCC, visiting chapters. And, of course our annual convention in October in Cleveland, Ohio.
Cindy Sheridan, CEO, PHCC
Education: West Virginia University
George Washington University
Certified Association Executive
Dream vacation: I firmly believe in taking time for vacation and work-life balance…. Paris is on my bucket list.
For relaxation when not working: I like to garden, cook, travel and spend time with family.
Other Recent Features
Industry News | November 27, 2023
| November 27, 2023