This week marks my 10-year anniversary working in the trucking and logistics sector.
Always a keener and up for a challenge, I came here ready to make a difference.
Having worked in other industries doing the type of human resources (HR) work I am doing now, I saw the opportunities that trucking and logistics present. The industry is an economic powerhouse with one of the country’s largest workforces. It also faces onerous and longstanding HR issues.
I was excited and enthusiastic to get to work.
But not for long. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had a bit of a rocky road ahead, but not for the reasons you may think.
Yes, I was a young woman, ready to lead and get things done in one of the most male-dominated industries in the country. But what caused me strife were the organization’s significant financial burdens which I discovered during my first few weeks on the job.
In addition, just two months in I received notice that 95% of my operational funding would be cut within 12 months. While an early exit certainly crossed my mind, I decided to give it five years.
What followed was me walking into an association board meeting feeling like the only woman in the room (I was in fact one of two at the time). For the record, that did not concern me. I had an organization to save, and I needed all hands to help me do that.
And that’s exactly what happened. Here I am, 10 years later reminiscing about the journey.
I am fortunate to have mentors, champions and sponsors who took the time to help me along the way. I will share a few:
David Bradley, the previous president and CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. David and I frequently disagreed and sometimes argued. When I realized he was in fact like this with everyone, I reached out to David more often. When I began to observe him sometimes taking on my ideas and using some of my language, I knew he was getting it. David always took the time to let me talk things through, tell me what he thought I should do and then support me when I did my own thing.
Mike McCarron, Left Lane Associates and former partner at MSM Transportation. Now don’t fall out of your chair, folks. One of the first events I worked on with Mike had him picking me up at the airport with his daughter in tow. Mike’s family is a cottaging family like mine, and I found an instant connection. I often leaned on Mike for his industry insights, connections and, to be honest, when I just needed a good laugh.
John G. Smith, Newcom Media. Back before he was the editorial director at Newcom Media, which publishes Today’s Trucking and trucknews.com, John was a communications consultant, albeit one with loads of trucking industry experience. Let’s just say he taught me a thing or two and I always trusted his judgement. And there’s a theme: another cottager.
I’ve had the privilege of great team members at Trucking HR Canada. Some have come and gone over the years but each one was a part of the organization’s success. Today, I am proud of the progress we have made and that we can offer a compensation and benefits package that rivals the federal public service – our main competitor for talent in the Ottawa area.
I would be remiss if I did not mention my own rather large, personal bump along the way: my cancer diagnosis in the summer of 2017 was certainly a big one. I am grateful for the Board members who stepped up and did my job so I could make fighting cancer mine. I am in great health, three years into remission.
I also want to salute the women in this industry who inspire me every single day.
First, the other woman in the room at my first association meeting? She was Claudia Milicevic, head of Loadlink Technologies. I also want to mention Angelique Magi of Intact Insurance; Lorraine Card, former president of AMTA; Louise Yako, former BCTA president; Susan Ewart, president of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association; Joanne MacKenzie, professional truck driver; Rebecka Freels, communications consultant; Vicki Stafford, Cavalier Transport; Kathy Koras from Newcom Media; Michelle Arseneau of GX Transport; and Rachel Arseneau of GX Transport; Louise McCalpine, Snowbird Transport; Vicki McKibbon from Armour Transport; Linda Young from Bison; Caroline Blais from Kriska Transport; Rosana Preston from Rosedale Transport; Heather Day, president of Day Transport; Stephanie Theede of Westcan Bulk Transport; Myrna Chartrand, professional truck driver; Shelley Uvanile-Hesch, CEO of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada; Margaret Hogg, ambassador for everything trucking; Lisa Kelly, professional truck driver; and believe me, the list goes on.
While I work to not see my gender as a barrier, I have met many along the way who have had different experiences. The women of this industry motivate me to do more, and I proudly blaze the trail with them.
Today, Trucking HR Canada is an industry leader in all regards. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of making that happen. I have missed some, I am sure, but you all know who you are, and you are all leaders.
Together, we have made a difference and I am so proud to be a part of it.
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