Ryan Rennie, a prominent figure in the HVAC&R engineering field, has made a impact in the industry through dedication and passion for innovative solutions.
Joining the family business as the third generation of management, Rennie’s journey into HVAC engineering was shaped by unexpected circumstances and his inclination towards mathematics and science. Despite originally intending to become an attorney, Rennie says his path diverged when he discovered his strengths in mathematics and science. An unplanned Iscor bursary further altered his course, leading him to pursue mechanical engineering. As fate would have it, his family’s business moved from Port Shepstone to Johannesburg, providing Rennie with the opportunity to join his siblings as the third generation of management. It marked the beginning of his journey in the HVAC&R engineering field.
Rennie says there is nothing more rewarding than building something from the ground up. The HVAC&R sector provides a particularly unique platform to create new and complex projects with numerous moving parts, akin to a giant Mechano set. Each project brings together a dedicated team of specialists, turning the mechanical challenges into tests of management and organisation. Witnessing the completed project in action brings immense satisfaction, making the field all the more captivating, he says.
The HVAC&R industry, particularly in the realm of refrigeration, has been instrumental in enhancing human lives for over a century. “These systems allow mankind to inhabit inhospitable regions, facilitate the production of safe food, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare facilities, and contribute to improved comfort in daily living,” he notes.
Rennie describes one of the most remarkable aspects of the HVAC&R sector as being its vast array of opportunities. “The field encompasses technical installation work, commissioning, mechanical, electrical, and electronic engineering, project and business management, construction coordination, administrative tasks, quantity surveying, cost accounting, manufacturing, drawing, transportation, and more. This diversity enables ambitious and motivated individuals to continually grow and advance their careers by delving into various specialised areas.”
Rennie emphasises the importance of education and continuous learning in the engineering profession. He believes that keeping up with emerging technologies and acquiring new knowledge is imperative for both individuals and businesses. Staying ahead of the curve ensures growth and adaptability in an ever-evolving industry.
Throughout his career, Rennie has faced numerous unique challenges in each project. These challenges range from budget constraints and incomplete specifications to logistical limitations and coordination issues. However, his strength lies in knowing that “every problem has a solution, and calm problem-solving, coupled with a skilled and experienced team, can overcome any obstacle”
He emphasises networking events and online communities as playing a pivotal role in his engineering career, and recommends others to follow suit: “These initiatives provide opportunities for individuals to market themselves and their businesses, forge valuable connections, and find supportive allies who can aid in achieving personal and professional goals.” Moreover, Rennie believes that mentorship is crucial at any stage of one’s career journey. “A mentor provides guidance, insights, and invaluable wisdom that can shape an individual’s growth and decision-making process. I have been fortunate to have had mentors throughout my career, and in turn recognise the significance of giving back by becoming a mentor myself, especially to those interested in pursuing a career in HVAC&R engineering.”
Rennie’s journey into the HVAC engineering industry exemplifies the power of embracing unforeseen opportunities and nurturing a passion for building innovative solutions. His commitment to continuous learning, overcoming challenges, and fostering mentorship underscores the importance of these values in shaping a fulfilling and successful career.