WOMEN IN ACR: Claryhs Radford


30 April 2024

Claryhs Radford is Project Sales Engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in partnership with Beijer Ref UK.

What was your first job?

My first job was working in a fish and chip shop called Mr Luigis when I was 15. I would answer the phone and take the orders and pack them for the delivery drivers. It was great fun interacting with people with the added bonus of getting free fish and chips at the end of my weekend shifts. 

What does your current role involve? 

As Project Sales Engineer I meet with customers face to face and get a clear understanding of their requirement, both need-to and want-to haves. With this knowledge I propose the best product and service offering. I am empowered to be flexible in solution selling. I can offer site visits, product training and differing distribution options through the Beijer Ref wholesale network or supply direct from central distribution. I concentrate my sales effort on the VRF product range. I am available for the customer from the start to the end of any project they may have. I am the first point of contact for them, their gatekeeper to ensure the supply of product doesn’t finish at the point of order

What attracted you to the industry?

Since leaving school I always wanted a career in sales, it probably started indirectly when working in the fish and chip shop at 15 years old. I liked the interaction with customers and enjoyed the buzz of a smiling customer face. The problem was I didn’t know how to enter the sales arena or what I wanted to sell. By chance I saw a job advert for an internal Sales Account Manager with MHI. This position offered both product and sales training. It was a perfect match for me at the time back in 2021. I applied for the position and before being interviewed I spent three days researching both MHI and Beijer Ref. I thought I knew quite a lot at this point though I now realise I didn’t know too much! Since this I haven’t looked back, I find the HVAC industry fascinating and often undersold. I am only at the start of my career and enjoy all the learning experiences both MHI and Beijer Ref offer me. I have enjoyed every minute of my career so far. 

What excites/interests you about the industry?

Personally I get excited over the rewarding feeling I get from helping others. The phrase ‘happy to help’ is often overused and insincere. For me I mean it, I really am happy to help. I feel valued by my employer and customers, who both help with my training and development within this industry. Technologies are constantly changing and I feel I have joined an air conditioning industry that has just begun, although it started over 120 years ago. The team around me encourages questions which I may have considered as silly in the past. However, the team always make me feel valued which has increased my confidence. I realise now there is no such thing as a silly question. 

How would you like to see your career developing?

I have a personal standard to always be a good role model for younger people coming into the industry to help and advise them through the early stages of their career. I am currently going through the STEMazing programme to become an ambassador for women in STEM, and this is already helping me to achieve this standard. This is in addition to always developing my own skills in my current role. I have a staircase to climb and am enjoying every minute of it   

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What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

To never shy away from any task and throw yourself in the deep end! For me doing this has helped me build my self-confidence within my life both in and out of work. I used this advice when I was going for my Level 2 City & Guilds F-Gas qualification, even though it was one of the most challenging experiences I have had to date. I gave it my all and passed the qualification which I will always remember and be proud of.   

What do you see as the challenges facing the industry?

As a young adult in the HVAC industry, one of the challenges I have recognised is that there are not enough young people or women wanting to enter the sector. It is our responsibility to make the industry more appealing to the next generation, welcome them in and educate them on what impact they could have in making our country more sustainable on the journey to Net Zero. This is a great industry to work in and it offers fantastic career opportunities. We need to support schools, colleges and universities by imparting knowledge about what we do. This way we should create the interest needed to make a positive change. 

What would you say to other women who are considering coming into the ACR industry?

The industry is still perceived as and actually is male dominated. Yes, we still face the stigma around this but things are changing slowly. Personally, I have been supported by some amazing women throughout my short time in the industry. Beijer Ref and MHI prioritise on diversity. Other companies are doing similar. The more noise we make and the more we SHOUT about diversity the more chance we have of people hearing the message. This feature in The ACR Journal and award events celebrating women in RACHP are great platforms for noise. When a woman enters this industry there is a quick realisation that women are accepted and the males within it do actually support this change. 

Claryhs enjoys the great outdoors

Is there a little-known fact about yourself that would surprise other people (secret skill, unusual hobby etc)?

I don’t have what I would perceive as interesting hobbies, though I do enjoy walking in the countryside and mountain climbing. Last year I completed the last of the Three Peaks and made it to the top of Ben Nevis in aid of Mind UK. One for my bucket list is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. I have a lot of work to do to get to the level of fitness needed, but I will get there!