Climb Your Own Ladder: The Many Career Paths in Trucking

by Women In Trucking Staff, on May 11, 2023 1:36:20 PM


Find out what you like doing best, and get someone to pay you for doing it.” — Katharine Whitehorn, British Columnist

As the transportation industry expands in importance to supply chains worldwide, career paths in trucking have exponentially expanded like never before. And talented women are making things happen. Today, approximately 34% of C-suite executives are women, and another 40% are company leaders with supervisory responsibilities, according to the 2022 WIT Index. Nearly 41% of safety roles are filled by women, while 75% of HR/talent management responsibilities are held by females. There’s a wide range of career opportunities for women in operations as well. For example, 45% of dispatcher roles are filled by women.

The bottom line: There are several career paths a woman can choose in the trucking industry, ranging from management and operations to sales, marketing, HR/talent management, and more. Take a look at the variety of roles and accomplishments made by those who have been named 2023 Top Women to Watch by Redefining the Road magazine. We've highlighted a few of their stories below to realize the many career opportunities that exist for females in this industry.

Joanna-Hutton-Ryder-300x300Joanna Hutton
Director of Sales, Ryder

Beginning her career with Ryder in 2014 as Manager of Sales, Hutton has excelled at her roles with Ryder and continues to be a major asset for the company as a mentor to female leadership. She finished in the Top Sales and Marketing Scorecard rankings in 2022, which marks her eighth consecutive year of Top 10 rankings performance. She is focused on recruiting more female talent to Ryder, and has directly mentored three sales leaders in the North Region. She is seen as an astute advisor and thought leader by her peers.

“Joanna is a valued and respected leader who is always willing to give of herself in order to help others grow and develop within their roles,” says Marc Thibeau, Vice President of Sales at Ryder.

michele-rodgersMichele Rodgers
Resident Engineering Manager,
Peterbilt Motor Co.

She began her life-long career with the company, starting in 1995 as a Director for Peterbilt Motors after earning her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering – not a career path traditionally considered for women. She then earned her MBA in Finance and worked her way through several project engineering and engineering supervisory roles at Peterbilt.

“Michele understands the importance of increasing women in STEM roles and serves as a role model, mentor, and champion to increase female participation in these critical areas, in support of the industry’s need for top talent,” says Genevieve Bekkerus, Director of Marketing at Kenworth Truck Co. “Michele has broken ceilings at PACCAR too, serving as the first female Engineering Manager and Director of PMO (Project Management Organization).”

In addition to a thriving engineering career, she has completed multiple continuous improvement projects to improve efficiency and quality within her department, says Bekkerus. She notes that Rodgers also dedicates her time serving in the following organizations to advance women in the industry: PACCAR Women’s Association’s Outreach committee; University of North Texas SWE organization as a counselor; Women in Trucking as a Board Member; and the Peterbilt’s Protégé program as a mentor.

Sara-Shah-TriNational-300x300Sara Shah
Director of Human Resources, Tri-National Inc.

She joined the Tri-National (TNi) team 10 years ago to construct a Human Resources department from the ground up, ensuring all aspects of the company met federal and state labor laws for office employees, maintenance staff, and drivers. Fast forward several years into her career: Shah has led her team to increase TNi’s driver count by 19%, which also allowed TNi to increase its fleet count by 11%. She has recruited five women into leadership positions with the company with no turnover. She also encourages continued professional development for female team members.

“Sara led the way early on as one of the first female executives at the company,” says Taylor Reinhart, TNi Marketing Coordinator. “Over the years Sara has mentored and trained several women who are new to the industry, showing them the ropes of recruiting and human resources.”

Brooke-Weeks-Walmart-300x300Brooke Weeks
Senior Manager II, Fleet Sustainability Engineering, Walmart

She joined the major retailer in 2018 as an E-commerce Field Engineer. Over the years, she expanded her role to lead a team responsible for the strategy, testing, and deployment of zero-emissions vehicles. Today, Weeks is a major force behind Walmart’s efforts to de-carbonize its fleet, with a goal to eliminate all emissions by 2040. To reach this goal, Weeks is heading the initiative to replace more than 10,000 Class 8 tractors, 11,000 refrigerated trailers, hundreds of diesel yard trucks, and 2,000 small passenger fleet vehicles. She recently received the Walmart Internal Women in Technology Award in recognition of her fleet decarbonization efforts.

“Brooke is a model of what it means to be an advocate for promoting and empowering women in the Transportation industry,” says Erin Bergman, Senior Manager II for Supply Chain Talent Acquisition at Walmart. “Over the years, Brooke’s efforts have brought increased visibility to the opportunities available to women within the transportation industry, helping to increase the representation of women within these types of roles.”

MW-Logistics-Pam-Willis-Ward-300x300Pam Wills-Ward
Chief People & Strategy Officer, MW Logistics

This top-ranking executive is a newer addition to MW Logistics who has demonstrated success in building programs to enhance growth, development, and maximize profitability for the company. She has helped to redefine MWL’s culture and established a blueprint for organizational strategic growth. Thanks to Wills-Ward, MWL recently made a calculated decision to upgrade its technology and convert 92% of its billing process into an automated service. This change helps employees invest more time in collaboration and analysis, provides further insights into MWL’s operations, and offers faster and more precise solutions for customers.

“Joining MW Logistics full-time almost two years ago, Pam entrenched herself in learning about the robust talent required to ensure items reach their destination,” says Suzanne Dangelmaier, Director of Program Management at MWL. “Pam also determined that educating individuals both outside and inside of the supply chain and logistics industry was critical to increasing the female presence.”

Erin-Van-Zeeland_Schneider-300x300Erin Van Zeeland
Chief Commercial Officer, Schneider

Van Zeeland’s vision and leadership have been a catalyst for growth. Since Schneider’s IPO five years ago, the company’s operating revenue has grown from surpassing $1 billion to more than $5.6 billion. Her willingness to take on challenging multi-year programs focused on business transformation and change management is inspiring to not only those at Schneider, but for the entire industry.

Van Zeeland started her career at Schneider in 1993 as a Service Team Leader and has held several roles across the company in areas of logistics, asset-based divisions and leadership focused on customers growth and business transformation. She has served as Group Senior Vice President and General Manager of Logistics since 2016 and more recently also assumed the role of Chief Commercial Officer in 2022. As CCO, she leads the company’s sales and marketing strategy and capability enablement to continue to take the enterprise to the next level. And as Group SVP and General Manager of Logistics, she is responsible for all aspects of Schneider’s Logistics service offering, ensuring that 64,000 third-party carriers and service providers are effectively utilized to meet the transportation needs of its customers.

“With over 29 years of operations and logistics experience, Erin is the definition of how to create and build a successful career in the transportation industry,” says Kara Leiterman, Media Relations Manager at Schneider. “She is a passionate, creative and intelligent leader at Schneider and proves every day that women can succeed in a male-dominated industry. She supports Schneider associates and helps them thrive, participating in mentor and leadership programs.”

In fact, she assists in leading the Schneider Women’s Network, an organization developed with the intent to attract, develop and retain the best talent, and ensure that no artificial barriers stand in the way of women achieving this objective. Mothers, wives, daughters, friends, sisters across the entire company come together on a regular basis to discuss their real-world experiences working in the industry.

The 2023 Top Women to Watch list includes many other note-worthy individuals. Highlights of their achievements are featured in Edition 1 of 2023 of Redefining The Road.

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Topics:LeadershipRedefining The Road MagazineRecognition

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The Women In Trucking Association is a non-profit organization with the mission to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the industry.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in articles within the WIT Blog are those of the authors/submitters and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Women In Trucking Association.

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