Making It to the Top: Profile of Shelley Simpson of J.B. Hunt

by Women In Trucking Staff, on Feb 21, 2024 9:00:27 AM

Shelley Simpson, President of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, presenting at the 2023 Accelerate Conference & Expo.

With only 31.6% of women as C-suite executives in transportation, according to the 2023 WIT Index, these women play a vital role. They represent women everywhere.

Being a good leader requires some knack, and for women in these top leadership roles, the position may be daunting. Women oftentimes need to prove themselves a bit more than their male counterparts and work harder to gain respect from their peers. But one thing is for sure: Some of the best and most powerful and influential leaders are women.

Shelley Simpson of J.B. Hunt Services: A Prime Example

Take Shelley Simpson, for example. She’s the President of J.B. Hunt Transport Services – one of the most well-recognized brands in the transportation industry. People who know her say she has business smarts, tenacity, strength, perseverance, adaptability, and resourcefulness – all rolled up with heart. With this in mind, the Women In Trucking Association (WIT) presented Simpson with its 2023 Influential Woman in Trucking award at the 2023 Accelerate! Conference & Expo Nov. 7 in Dallas. Sponsored by Daimler Truck North America (DTNA), the award recognizes the achievements of female role models and trailblazers in the trucking industry. 

“Shelley’s passion and leadership for this field, including her commitment to expanding gender diversity in transportation, have been evident throughout her nearly 30-year career,” says Jennifer Hedrick, WIT President and CEO.  

A Walk Through Shelley’s Career

In 2007, Simpson was named President of Integrated Capacity Solutions (ICS), a business unit she helped create. While continuing to develop ICS, Simpson assumed sales and marketing executive responsibilities in 2011 and was appointed Chief Marketing Officer. She took on additional leadership in 2014 as President of J.B. Hunt’s Truckload business segment, helping improve the efficiency of the company’s fleet.

Simpson was named Chief Commercial Officer in 2017, leading strategic direction of marketing, sales, customer experience, and external product development, including J.B. Hunt 360°, the company’s technology platform for freight matching and operational efficiency. As the company evolved J.B. Hunt 360 and its technology-driven services, Simpson also was responsible for commercializing them on a global scale as the leader of International Services. In 2020, she was named Executive Vice President of People and Human Resources, leading the company’s efforts to create a more inclusive culture and work environment. In 2022, Simpson was named and currently provides management and performance oversight for all company business units, in addition to emerging technology, developing services and People and Human Resources.

Simpson serves on the board for multiple organizations, including the Mercy Health Foundation and the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board for the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, in addition to serving on the DSA Selection Committee for the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.

In 2016, she received the Distinguished Woman in Logistics award by WIT and was named 2017 ATHENA Woman of the Year at the NWA Business Women’s Conference. In 2020, she received the Power50 Award by the National Diversity Council and was named a 2020 Top Influencer by Arkansas Money & Politics. In 2021, she was named one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digital and has been named one of the top 100 HR Professionals by the National Diversity Council in 2022. She recently received the 2022 Woman of the Year in Innovation award by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas and the Excellence in Free Enterprise Award from Economics Arkansas.

Originally from Russellville, Arkansas, Simpson graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She lives in Rogers, AR with her husband David and three children.

Along with Simpson, finalists for the 2023 award were Tori Blake, Chief Financial Officer and Co-Owner, Western Logistics Express and WLX, and Megan Ferguson, Vice President of End-to-End Delivery Acceleration, Walmart.

What Makes A Successful Business Leader?

Women who make it to the top oftentimes are risk-takers. They learn from failure, deal with remarks (intended or unintentional) and unconscious bias, and have the courage to fight for what they believe in and to never give up, no matter how difficult the challenge. Being a female leader in a male-populated industry like transportation can require the strength and confidence to deal with every obstacle or setback.

In the highly unpredictable and stressful industry of transportation, female leaders need to understand that there is nothing within the biological gender that makes them less patient or less suitable for unpredictability. It's up to specific individuals and their ability to learn and reach their goals despite the uncertainty around them.

All leaders (whether male or female) need to be confident, creative, and persevering - and above all else, they need to be adaptable. Every work environment and position will have a unique set of demands, and those demands will continue to evolve as our technology, workforce, and clients’ needs do. Today’s leaders need to be able to weather these changes and wield them to their advantage.

Do you have what it takes to be a successful business leader? If that is your career dream, look at inspirational women like Shelley Simpson and make it happen.


A version of this article will be featured in Edition 1 of 2024 in our official magazine, Redefining The Road. Download the latest edition here.

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About Women In Trucking

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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