From Engineering to Anywhere: Entering the Transportation Industry from a Place of Passion Fosters Sustainable Success
by LaTres Jarrett | Sponsored Content, on Oct 12, 2022 2:43:43 PM
Like many of the women featured on this blog, my career did not begin in transportation. I trained as a chemical engineer before moving into the business world. Even then, I traversed industries—consumer products, food service, and now, transportation.
I’ve been with Bridgestone for five years and despite my diverse path, I have now found myself in a role that is the perfect union of all my experiences.
Entering the business world with a technical background gave me a strong appreciation for problem solving. In transportation, the evolving dynamics of how we move goods and people regularly poses challenges that allow me to flex those muscles. Tires, after all, are a critical component of commercial economics. If you see a truck on the side of the road, there are a lot of propagating effects happening downstream. Something's not getting delivered on time, which means something's not being sold, which means somebody's financials aren't being met, which means somebody's job is at risk and you're not enjoying whatever it is at home.
At the same time, my experience as a marketer of consumer packaged goods taught me the value of connecting to people through the heart, not the head. Emotion is an often-overlooked component of this industry, in many capacities. In transportation, it’s easy to eliminate the nuances and look at the mechanisms of getting from point A to point B. At Bridgestone, we make the tires to complete that journey, but we also never lose sight of the fact that tires carry life. We transport the most precious cargo there is.
We also work with dealers within our franchise network who are doing more than selling our tires. They are carrying the weight of an entire community’s prosperity. Many of these dealers are the primary employer within their community and sell to that same population. Ancillary businesses rely on their success so that they, too, have customers to serve.
Other dealers carry the torch of a multigenerational business, determined to find a way to hang on no matter how tight margins get to maintain their families’ legacy and pass it on to their children.
Without my experience tapping into the emotional component of a transaction, I could not approach my role as I do, building relationships by understanding the various mechanisms at play. And customers appreciate it.
Emotion happens to be one of the eight values that Bridgestone has established to represent our ambition and determination to create a sustainable society. We call it the Bridgestone E8 Commitment, and it recognizes that emotion is critical to a sustainable world—emotions like the passion I mentioned. Entering the industry from a place of passion allows you to shine. It is how you add value and stand out, not for being a woman, but for being a strong contributor and getting results. And that yields sustainable success.
I've heard people say that once you get into this industry, it's very hard to leave. I haven’t been here quite long enough to confirm this, but I can attest to the fact that the opportunities do seem endless. At Bridgestone, for example, we have a multitude of divisions and functional roles. I see people go from HR into marketing, from legal into sales. There are no boundaries. You can zig and zag and still thrive. Even as a woman in a male-populated industry.
At a time when people cling to the way things have always been done, women are introducing new ways to be more sustainable for the future. We’re contributing unique perspectives and varied experiences, like my own winding career path, to infuse fresh ideas. That diversity of thought leads to innovation, broader business strategies and results. The only way we can get there is by empowering women to join the conversation.
Empowerment, another one of the Bridgestone E8 Commitment values, is about fostering a culture of acceptance in the workplace where women can bring their points of view to the table. After all, this is a big industry, but it is also an ever-changing industry. From the electrification of vehicles to the use of technology in managing assets, many dynamics are at play. New ideas and disruptive practices are critical. In an industry focused on movement, I’m excited to see how this generation of innovative female thinkers propels us forward.
So, ask yourself, “What is my place of passion?” When you can answer that, grab hold of it and see where it can take you. And while on your journey, always be sure to reach out to connect with and support other women along their way. My hand is always extended at JarrettLaTres@bfusa.com.
Written by LaTres Jarrett, Executive Director, Bridgestone Canada
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