Type above and press Enter to search. Press Esc to cancel.

March 13, 2024 | 24 Mins Read

A Look Back on 32 Years as a Woman in Service with Dot Mynahan

March 13, 2024 | 24 Mins Read

A Look Back on 32 Years as a Woman in Service with Dot Mynahan


Episode 256

In this episode of the Future of Field Service podcast, host Sarah Nicastro welcomes back Dot Mynahan, who recently retired from her role as Executive Director of Field Operations at Otis Elevator after nearly 32 years with the company, to discuss her journey and her thoughts on the International Women's Day theme of inspire inclusion.

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

Dot Mynahan: "I think the first lesson learned is never be afraid to ask for help. Especially at Otis, there was a culture of if you ask for help, people will make sure that they help you. And from day one with the organization all the way through my last day at the company. I mean, even now, I could call up anybody at Otis and say, hey, I need help. And I would get it. They're amazing. It's an amazing team. I think the other lesson learned is to think about your career as a lattice versus a ladder. Everybody seems to think it's important to get to the next step. But if you go up vertically, you lose the breadth of knowledge that you can get if you take some laterals. And so I think that there's great value in a lattice approach to your career."

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast, where we deliver both information and inspiration on how to differentiate your business through service and lead through change. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro, and I'm here to guide you through conversations around the trends that matter most, from business transformation and customer-centric innovation to the service evolution and attributes of effective leadership. Join us on this journey as we welcome industry leaders, visionaries, and experts to share their personal stories of change, challenges, triumphs, and transformation. Let's dive in. Today, we're going to be talking with Dot Mynahan, who was formerly the Executive Director for Field Operations at Otis Elevator Americas and spent nearly or just around 32 years with Otis and in services. So we're going to take a look at her experience as a woman in service over the span of a few decades and just hear a bit what that was like. So with International Women's Day on March 8th, the goal this month is to amplify the voice of women in the industry as well as elevate the topics related to the International Women's Day theme of Inspire Inclusion. So Dot, welcome back to the Future of Field Service podcast. How are you?

Dot Mynahan: Thank you, Sarah. I'm well, thanks. And I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you again.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. I'm so glad you're here. So you are someone, you've been on the podcast before, and you are someone who has stood out to me in my time in field service as a woman voice in this space. You've done a lot throughout your career to advocate for women and to help support women. And I'm thrilled to have this discussion with you today. Now, you just recently retired from your role with Otis after nearly 32 years with the company. Just congratulations, first of all.

Dot Mynahan: Thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, you look tan, you look rested. So I would imagine retirement is treating you well.

Dot Mynahan: It's treating me very well. Thanks.

Sarah Nicastro: I love that. So I guess to start, 32 years with Otis is a major accomplishment. And can you just share with everyone a bit what your career journey looked like?

Dot Mynahan: I'd be happy to. Thanks, Sarah. So I started as a temp. Believe it or not, I answered a newspaper ad in the Portland, Maine newspaper looking for a service clerk. And so I started and Otis had a policy at the time that all new hires had to be hired as a temp. So I started October 1st of 1990, and I was supposed to go permanent in December. And at the end of November, they implemented a hiring freeze. That put me in limbo until a position opened up once the hiring freeze was lifted. So it was a little nerve-wracking, but I knew when I worked there, I was like, I know I'm going to love this industry. I just knew it. Like it was just a perfect fit. So I hung in there and they were very good to me. Even as a temp, I hung around. And then June of 92 was actually when the first opening became available, where I was hired full-term as a service clerk. And then shortly thereafter, I was offered the opportunity to go into a training program to become a supervisor, which meant I spent 18 months out in the field working as a helper. So working with the tools, working with the mechanics, invaluable experience. And I would say the last four months of that time, the regional field ops manager who was overseeing my program had a really unique idea of every supervisor in New England who reported to him who went on vacation, he would send me into that office to cover for the week. So think about this. I have a year of field experience under my belt, a few years with Otis under my belt, but walking into an office and sitting in the chair of a supervisor, who typically had 20 plus years experience, many, many years in the field. I think the first supervisor I sat in his chair, he was a 40 plus-year Otis veteran. And so the mechanics would come in the office and say, who are you? I'm like, well, I'm Dot. And I'm training to become a supervisor. But what it did was build an incredible network. So I was able to meet all of the folks in all of the Otis offices across New England. I knew the supervisors, the branch managers, the sales reps, and started to know the mechanics. And then also, it was interesting because I knew the systems, I knew parts, but I had worked in the field. By the end of the week, I typically had a line of mechanics sitting at my desk asking me for help to fix things. Whether it's problems with what the equipment was that was on their route, but they definitely took a liking to me by the end of the week. So it was a lot of fun. From there, I actually got my first supervisor job. I went from Providence. I was there for about two years up to New Hampshire. Otis has an employee scholar program. So I went to school at night, got my MBA. At the end of that, I became a general manager, first in Albany, then back to Portland, Maine. And then I had the opportunity to become a general manager of a larger office in Boston. And then the transition happened to field ops. Solely field ops, where I came out of the P&L, went to the D.C. Area, and was the regional field ops manager there from 07 to 15. And then in 15, I had the opportunity to go to Latin America as the director of field operations. Didn't know Spanish, didn't know Portuguese, but was willing to take the job and give it a shot. Loved it. And then in 2018, I transitioned into my Executive Director role for the Americas.

Sarah Nicastro: Wow. So quite a journey. And I always say that I think it's really interesting when, so specifically thinking about like women in service and that team. I think it's really interesting when I speak with women about their progression. Like you started as a temp and you ended as the executive director of the field operations for the Americas. That's obviously very telling of your drive and your character and your abilities, right? It's also telling of the organization, I always think. When someone has been with a company for 20, 30 years, it does let you know that there's things going right. Otherwise, people would not stay around. And I think particularly when you see women advancing into leadership roles, it's representative of a company really making an effort and putting action behind this idea of equity and inclusion. So really good stuff. So looking back, what are a couple of your proudest moments?

Dot Mynahan: I think the biggest achievement I have was starting forward, which was the employee resource group for women in field operations. We started that in North America with a group of 12 women. It expanded to over 500 women internationally and really has made a difference in the careers and career ladders, not only for women in field operations and the offices, but even in the field. Because we talked a lot about career ladders and there are career ladders even within the field organization, that I'm proud to see a lot of the women getting the opportunities that they deserve. So it's just been an incredible organizational structure to have that employee resource group that Otis supported as well as they did. And so that's probably my number one goal or achievement. And then I think the latest one, I want to go current, is the integration of Otis ONE, which is our IoT product, into our service operation. So whether it be improved maintenance, guidance. I was looking at where faults are occurring and where should maintenance occur on your next visit. Looking at the time it takes to troubleshoot a callback or even if you need to respond to a callback, if we can see that the car's running. It was just a lot of fun and a lot of energy in looking at what's possible with that data. So that's been a lot of fun. I've really loved that a lot. And then I think the other one is we're just getting ready to go into production for a new equipment product called the Gen3 Core. And we took that through pilot and achieved our targeted installation hours. So just a lot of work, a lot of input from the field. Fantastic team on my team that just really drove the design of the product and really making it field friendly. And I think the customers are going to be thrilled. It rides like a dream. So I'm really excited to hear the feedback from the customers.

Sarah Nicastro: I love that. What's standing out to me about your answers is. And so I'm going to tie this back to just the theme of leadership as a whole, right? You are not going back to the glory days. You could easily. I think many people would. Just without thinking about it, go back to some fond memory of this, that, or the other thing. You're pulling really recent examples. I'm talking about how exciting the potential is. And I think that this, it reminds me of the importance in leadership today of bringing that positivity to change. So the only real difference between a challenge and a possibility is the attitude you have about it. But if you are a leader who can not fake it, but be excited about the potential, okay, this new technology, yes, it may be complex and we have a lot to figure out, but it's going to be so cool. That attitude is everything, right? And so that's what I'm thinking about as you're responding with these really recent examples is you're not going back to a lot of people that have been in a company for 32 years would just revert to the good old days and that sort of thing. And you're looking at these really recent things. And I love that. So when you think about the journey in terms of, are there any challenges that stand out to you of being a woman in a male-dominated field?

Dot Mynahan: I just never felt it. Of course, you run into those situations where a mechanic isn't thrilled to have you as their boss. I had a mechanic at one point in time come up to me and say, day one, walking into this office, I'm now their supervisor, saying, I've never worked for a woman before. I'm not going to start now. And I said, well, you have two options. I'm either your boss or you can go work someplace else. There's not another option. This is the structure and I am your supervisor. And why don't we just give it a shot? Let's see what we can do. And by the time he retired, he came up to me and he said, I remember day one. And I remember what I said to you. And I'm so sorry. You're the best boss I ever had. Because he gave it a shot and he was willing to give it a shot. And I think that spoke volumes for him. And there are times where I go, I would go to meetings. I'd be the only woman in the room. But I never felt that. I just never had that feeling of being a one-off or not being able to sit at the table. And maybe it's a cultural thing at Otis, where I was so accepted. But I was. And so it just wasn't really difficult.

Sarah Nicastro: I think thinking about your response to him, you were firm, but you were also, you showed like you were firm in I'm not going to take any crap. Okay. Like you're not going to treat me poorly. We're either going to make this work or you're not going to be here. You were firm, but you were also then, and I want to make this work. Like let's make this work, right? But that did make me think the ability to do that, I think has to be rooted in feeling empowered, right? There would probably be women in that position if they didn't feel supported and empowered in the role they're in fully. That wouldn't have felt comfortable saying, look, I want to make this work. Let's make this work. Or you're going to go need to go find something else. So I think that probably is part of it. And this is where I think it's always a combination. It's always a combination of that tenacity and that drive and the right type of support within the organization. A thought of an extra question I want to ask you, which is, I'm sure this is hard to answer because you only know what the experience has been. You can't really project what it would have been otherwise, but do you feel like having a woman CEO has an impact on what this has looked like for you at Otis and for other women at Otis?

Dot Mynahan: A hundred percent.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Dot Mynahan: I think there's a couple of things. First of all, UTC started our relationship and our commitment to Paradigm for Parity, right? Which is saying that we'll be at 50% parity in leadership roles by 2030. So UTC started it. We became an independent company. We've continued our commitment to it. Judy is extremely committed to it. And I think I always go back to, if you can see it, you can be it. And I think Otis does a good job of highlighting and sharing success stories so that you can inspire others to look for those roles and know that they can be successful and know that they'll be supported. And so I really think it's a culture at Otis to ensure success.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's a good point. And just to be clear, by asking that question, I wasn't trying to infer that Judy herself has made this so. It's more so that it's indicative of a company culture that is really valuing diversity and putting their action where the talk is, right? So that's what I meant. I don't think that in any way, you need to have a woman CEO to create a positive environment or to have that impact. I was just thinking about how it's telling of the company's focus. Okay, Dot, so we talked about some of your proudest moments, we talked about some of the challenges. What would you say are a couple of the biggest lessons you feel like you learned over the course of your leadership career?

Dot Mynahan: I think the first lesson learned is never be afraid to ask for help. Especially at Otis, there was a culture of if you ask for help, people will make sure that they help you. And from day one with the organization all the way through my last day at the company. I mean, even now I could call up anybody at Otis and say, hey, I need help. And I would get it. It's amazing. It's an amazing team. I think the other lesson learned is to think about your career as a lattice versus a ladder. Everybody seems to think like it's important to get to the next step. But if you go up vertically, you lose the breadth of knowledge that you can get if you take some laterals. And so I think that there's great value in a lattice approach to your career in order to expand the breadth of your knowledge and your experience, also your network.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I was thinking about when you said early on that role where you would go and fill in with the supervisors, you got to know different teams really well. And I think that's another thing I was thinking about in the back of my mind in terms of leadership skills is you can never minimize the impact of face-to-face time and listening and learning and not just going to say, okay, I'm in charge. But getting to know people and getting to know their challenges and understanding what it is that's going on in a particular functional area or region, that makes a lot of sense.

Dot Mynahan: Right. And I think the last piece of the puzzle is to always take the interview. If someone is approaching you about a potential, they're seeing something in you that they believe makes you a good fit for the role. And I think that the fit the lesson for women is men will apply to a job if they have 60% of the credentials and women will apply if they have 100. So I did a lot of mentoring, a lot of coaching over the years to a lot of women who had been approached to roles or I was approaching them for roles. And I'm like, look, I understand that you may not think you're ready, but if we look at all of the skills that you bring to the table and what you're capable of, then this role will take you to the next level. This role will take you from a regional footprint to a national footprint. And then there's learnings there. And even if you go to an America's level footprint, some of that is influencing remotely. And that's a big lesson for a lot of leadership to learn is how do you influence when you're remote? Now, obviously, through COVID, a lot of us were forced to learn that. But pre-COVID, that was a big part of me going to Latin America was how could I influence, learn to influence remotely? So there's a lot to be said there. And I think that always taking the interview, even if you're not successful, you've met a person in leadership who you may work with or for down the line. And I can cite several examples of that happened to me. And I was so happy that I took the interview, even though I wasn't successful, that I made those connections, which later on in the career ended up becoming great friendships.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, because they might come back and say, hey, Dot, we didn't think you were a fit for this role. But now that we've met you and we know a bit about you, there's this other thing and you would be great for that. Yeah.

Dot Mynahan: And there's always somebody better. There's no harm in applying for a job and there's a better candidate. You still learn something from the application process, the interview process. It's okay that there was someone that was a better fit for that role. There could be other roles in your future.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's good advice. So the theme for International Women's Day this year is Inspire Inclusion. So what do you think about when you hear this year's theme?

Dot Mynahan: I love the word inspire. I think it's a great verb when you think about it, right? Because to me, inspire invokes passion and an urge to act, an urge to do something, right? So how do you create in others an urge to act? And so when I saw the theme, I was like, oh, my gosh, they nailed it this year. That's such a great theme. And so I think I was excited. I was excited to see the theme and I'm excited to see what people do with it.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And this will be reflected in our content this month. They talk on the webpage for about the theme, inspiring inclusion is everyone's job. Yes, on this platform throughout this month, we want to amplify women's voices, but we also want to talk about the role everyone plays in inspiring inclusion. That's very important. So when it comes to areas of service that are still struggling with not only bringing more women into service, but diversity as a whole, what do you think are the reasons that as an industry, we're still not where we want to be? What do you think needs to happen next?

Dot Mynahan: I think the number one factor is unconscious bias. When you think about when you interview people, you feel very comfortable with someone who looks like you, thinks like you, went to the same school, you know, that you have a lot of things that you share in common. And so I think that there's just a tendency to default to those candidates because they're comfortable candidates, right? But diversity of thought brings a lot to the table. And diversity of candidates brings a lot to the tables. I think we just have to look at and address and really think about unconscious bias and try to eliminate it. So if you're part of a hiring panel and you're having a discussion post-interview process and reviewing the candidates and somebody is advocating for a candidate and you're like, okay, why? What makes this person the better candidate, right? And I think it helps too if you start the whole process is to have a diverse slate, force yourself to develop a diverse slate of candidates. Because you'll have a gem in there that you didn't expect to have.

Sarah Nicastro: It's hard to really make progress if consciously or unconsciously you're still selecting from a pretty homogenous group, right? I mean, you have to first think about how do we articulate the roles and post the roles and reflect on the requirements that we're listing and things like that to make sure that you aren't imposing that bias before you ever even get to an interview situation, right? And again, knowing that there's that difference between men and women on men will apply at 60%, women 100%, you really have to think about are we inadvertently turning potential candidates away by the terminology we're using or an outdated requirement or something like that? That's a really good point.

Dot Mynahan: We had a great example of that in Brazil. So we would hire 20 to 40 trainees every year to become route mechanics to go out and do routine maintenance on maintenance routes. And we hired from local electrical, mechanical, engineering type students, like graduates. And in the years prior to Forward, maybe we had four to six women who would apply and be accepted into the program. Through Forward, we worked with HR and through the president of the region, he said, I want gender parity in this next hiring. So it really forced us to think, okay, if you want gender parity in the result, what do we have to do? So we changed the advertising, right? Just like you said, the advertising said this year women are encouraged to apply. And we took a graduate from the program and we had her picture with another male technician in all of the advertising that we did. So they could see that a woman had been successful in the role. Over 400 applicants applied, women applicants applied out of 1,200. And we achieved gender parity.

Sarah Nicastro: Part of it is remembering if you don't do different, you're not going to get different. So I think especially in field service, there is a lot of, whether it's, I don't want to say unwillingness, whether it's not really wanting to change or whether it's just habitual. Like the requirements have been the requirements for however long and we just haven't sought to really dig in there, right? It's that, like you said, it was that prompt of, okay, well, we need to achieve this goal. Now what do we need to do differently? I think everyone needs to be thinking about that. You mentioned that with Forward, how you worked with HR to get better at that piece. Looking at the work that you did with Forward and how it grew over time, what are the other sort of, if you were to bullet point a couple of its sort of missions and purposes that it played within the company? Because I'm just thinking listeners could reflect on, do they have something similar? Or if they have a group, is there areas of action that they might be missing? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Dot Mynahan: Yeah. So one of the things that we did was had training, technical training as part of our meetings. Not every meeting was technical training. Maybe once a quarter we would have a technical training topic. And the women were happy to have that because they felt comfortable asking questions in that environment because they knew it was a mostly female audience. Whereas if they were in a regular training class and they were one of few, then they would feel uncomfortable asking questions. So that was very successful. The other thing we did in talking about career ladders and lattices is we celebrated different roles in the company, even within the field, right? If somebody was a field employee and had progressed within the field from an apprentice to a mechanic to maybe an adjuster level mechanic or had taken a role as an education instructor for the union, like we celebrated those and we showed their picture and we had them speak at the meetings. And we did the same thing with an Otis to show that most of the people who were in leadership roles and who were being successful, not only had the career ladder, they had the lattice and they also put themselves out there in leadership roles, right? Even as a field employee going to teach at union school at night. So then they were leading a classroom and learning those skills. So we really celebrated that. And we tried to share and put pictures and names to success so that the old adage of, if you can see it, you can be it. We lived that. And tried to share everything that we could to just show that to encourage other women to apply. And then if somebody approached us about a job or an opportunity, we would do coaching on maybe at night. I'd have a call and say, okay, you're going to apply for this job. Why do you want this job? What's your interest in it? Okay. Let's talk about what the job entails and what you need to think about as you're interviewing for the role. And think about the experience because a lot of people say, well, I don't have that experience that another person has who's applying for a role. Okay, that could be true. But what do you bring to the table? What have you done that you bring to the table?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I think there was a point I wanted to bring up, which is this idea of when we think about, I wanted to first comment on the point you made about showing pictures and names and having people speak. Because it brings me back to the reaction you had to the term inspire, which I think is rooted in its emotion, right? And we're people, we're humans, we connect with other people. So rather than putting up a stat, in the meeting that says, this month or this quarter, six women advanced, okay? It makes it personal. That's when you have that connection to, I see them doing this, I could do this too. And so I think it's something to keep in mind. The other thing is related to a lot of the coaching and that sort of thing. I think programs like this are important because when we go back to the theme of inspiring inclusion, that isn't at one level. The goal should not be, let's get more women or more diverse candidates into the organization. It needs to be at every level. And that means helping people understand their strengths and progress throughout their careers. And whether that's lattice or ladder, that's not the point. The point is the job isn't done when we are successful, like getting those 400 applicants and even hiring parity, it's all the way through. I think obviously at Otis, having a woman CEO is helpful because you have that relational point all the way up. But there's a lot of organizations where that isn't the case. And companies, I don't think, are putting as much thought into not just the initial task, but what happens all the way through. Are there any other things beyond the coaching and mentoring that you think are important in making sure that women are progressing through roles within the company?

Dot Mynahan: I think that comes to the coaching piece of the puzzle is part of what we would talk about as well. When I talk to women who are interested in progressing with the company is, okay, so you want to be a leader. You're not a leader now. You want to be a leader. What can you do that would show your leadership skills? So whether that's a volunteer opportunity where you set up a volunteer opportunity in your branch. And then you take a picture of yourself leading it, you post it on LinkedIn, you're leading it, right? And not that it's me, but just the visual of you're in the lead, right? Now people associate you with a leadership position. And the same thing with the employee resource groups, right? Become involved in those, take a leadership role in those. Everything that you can do, whether it's at work or outside of work in the community, where you can share that you have leadership capabilities. Do it.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Dot Mynahan: Do it. Put it on social media. Let people know I'm interested.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. And that's where we come back to talking about at the beginning, your journey. It's part personal responsibility for owning your journey and your growth and your expansion of knowledge and your expansion of your network and your engagement in resource groups, activities to continue to work on yourself. And it's part company mission to, and leaders, leaders and company itself to figure out what role they need to play in building programs and processes that are targeted toward removing that unconscious bias and taking real action behind this topic. Awesome. Okay, so you're retired. Is there anything you're able to share on what's next for Dot?

Dot Mynahan: I call it, I tell my family it's Dot 2.0.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Dot Mynahan: So it's really a chance to do what I want to do. And I can choose to stay retired. I can choose to go back to work. I'm still vacillating between that. But in the meantime, I walk the talk. So I'm going to be participating for the National Elevator Industry in a SkillsUSA conference in Atlanta, which is a student-run organization that helps place graduates into ready for trade roles. And so I'll be helping there. I'm also very much involved in Tradeswomen Build Nations, which also helps our women in the field. And I'll be participating in New Orleans this fall with that. And then I'm really looking for opportunities, whether to be served on a board or to maybe work for a smaller company and help a startup or help a PE-backed company that's looking to get into digital transformation of their operations or how to integrate IoT into their service operations. Like all of the stuff that I was passionate about at Otis, I have the skills to share. So I'm willing to entertain those possibilities. But I just think, like, the future is so open for me. I don't want to constrain myself in my opportunities. I just want to be open to them and see where it takes me.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, what a wonderful spot to be in. And congratulations to you again for getting yourself there and a wonderful 32 years and the work you're continuing to do to help support women in the trades and diversity in the trades. And we'll be excited to see what comes next. So thank you for spending some time with me today and sharing your journey and your knowledge and really appreciate you.

Dot Mynahan: Thank you, Sarah. It's been a pleasure.Sarah Nicastro: Thanks, Dot. Thank you for listening to the Future of Field Service podcast. We hope today's conversation has provided you with a light bulb moment or given you some valuable food for thought. To learn more about any of the topics discussed in this episode, visit us at If you enjoyed this episode, please don't forget to rate us on your favorite podcast platform to help others join the conversation. Also, remember to hit the subscribe button and turn on notifications so you don't miss a future episode. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. To learn more, visit On behalf of everyone at Future of Field Service, thank you for listening.