Glenn Edwards bookends a conversation with the two words that best sum up his intellectual property and leadership career: passion and purpose. The vice president, chief IP counsel, and deputy general counsel at Trane Technologies has twenty-six years of IP experience that he says he would not have accumulated without those two deeply entrenched characteristics.
“This area is a marriage of science, engineering, technology, and law,” Edwards explains. “Even as an engineer early in my career, a seed was planted that this was an area I should investigate.”
At Trane Technologies, Edwards has continued his journey of increased responsibility, wider leadership, and, most recently, enhanced sustainability efforts—the kind of challenges the IP expert needs.
Trane Technologies, the result of a reorganization of Ingersoll Rand, had initially seemed a good fit for Edwards because of his previous experience in medical and safety devices. The company is focused on climatized environments in all forms, but he says the transition has been easier than expected.
“As I’ve advanced in my career, I think I’ve acquired the skill set to adapt to a lot of different technological environments,” Edwards explains. “It allows me to be more flexible and understanding of processes and operations. Intellectual property touches all elements of a company, so I have the pleasure to work with every function.”
That senior status means a little less time on every detail of the technology and more emphasis on technology strategy, implementation and differentiation, leadership, collaboration, and the complex transactional, trade secret, and legal compliance work that goes along with working in a multinational public technology company.
“Once you find what you really love doing, that passion will help overcome any obstacle.”
Edwards’s skill set doesn’t go unnoticed by his external partners. “Glenn’s ability to deliver transformational change starts with his strategic vision and expertise and is compounded by his strengths in cultivating talent and leading and developing collaborative teams,” says George Tebbutt, partner at Haseltine Lake Kempner.
Passion comes into play again when adjusting to that technological shift. “Once you find what you really love doing, that passion will help overcome any obstacle,” Edwards says. “It really makes the impossible possible if there’s that interest in IP.”
Edwards passes passion for his role along to developing talent in Trane’s mentoring program. “I really enjoy mentoring younger people because you can encounter someone who maybe isn’t in the legal function, but they might have an interest in pursuing the law,” Edwards explains. “I let them know a technical degree is not necessarily required; they may be able to practice in the broad field of intellectual property. I want to talk to anyone who even thinks they might have an interest in the area.”
He offers this advice for those looking to grow in their role, IP or otherwise. “In many cases it’s better to regret something you have done than not tried at all,” the lawyer advises. “Gain those experiences. Find out what you like and don’t like for a career path. That’s how I developed personally and professionally to be the leader I am.”
One of Edwards’s more passionate points of interest lately has been in helping Trane reattune its already successful sustainability goals. “We have the view that one company could change an industry and then that one industry could really impact and change the world,” Edwards says. “We initially had 2020 goals on reducing our environmental footprint and helping our customers find ways to achieve their own sustainability goals.”
“By 2030, we want to remove a gigaton of carbon emissions out of the atmosphere . . . This kind of challenge is really energizing and makes me excited to be a part of this organization.”
Trane Technologies met these goals so quickly that its leadership elected to look ten to twenty years down the line. “We wanted to be ambitious and really challenge ourselves as to what is possible,” Edwards explains.
A significant highlight of those goals is what Trane calls the Gigaton Challenge. “By 2030, we want to remove a gigaton of carbon emissions out of the atmosphere,” Edwards says. “We will pursue that goal by our activities as a company, how we operate our buildings and ship goods, and the services we offer our customers to help them in achieving those goals as well.”
Edwards says that commercial HVAC systems contribute significantly to those emissions, so Trane is uniquely poised to take on the task. “This kind of challenge is really energizing and makes me excited to be a part of this organization.”
Additional efforts have led to the company’s reexamining and optimizing many of its operating norms: its recycling practices, equipment design, and indoor air quality. “Some of that may seem contradictory,” Edwards explains. “We want high air quality, but that may consume more energy to deliver. However, we have the ability to positively impact all those challenges with products and services developed by our company.”
There’s also a different kind of sustainability that Edwards stresses is absolutely crucial for attorneys: career sustainability. “This is a stressful profession, and while there is no perfect formula for work/life balance, I had a mentor a long time ago who described it best,” Edwards remembers. “Life is about juggling many different balls. Sometimes you can let them drop, and they’ll bounce back up. There’s just one you can’t let drop. That one is glass. Your family. That always stuck with me.”
It’s there, maybe, that Edwards finds the most perfect melding of passion and purpose.