Neha Bhatia – Harboring a secret dream
It was a random online application that landed Neha Bhatia the recruiter’s job at SGT, a transportation company based in Quebec.
She had no industry experience, and had never been on a truck until she joined SGT’s terminal in Brampton early last year.
Now she enjoys every moment of her job.
“I worked in various environments before getting this amazing opportunity,” Bhatia told Road Today.
What she loves most about working at SGT is the family atmosphere in the office, she said.
“My days are really good here. I also had opportunities to organize a few office events last year.”
She also goes to various training schools for presentation to potential candidates.
“Then those who want to join us when they finish their graduate programs can call us,” she said.
Bhatia said SGT offers a “really good” program for new drivers that includes up to eight weeks of additional training.
The company also has other in-house programs to keep the drivers motivated.
“Our turnover rate is low. We always try to retain the drivers to the best of our capabilities,” Bhatia said.
That policy has paid off as many of the drivers have been with the company for 10, 15 or even 20 years.
As someone who deals with veteran and newly minted truckers every day, Bhatia is well aware of the challenges longhaul drivers face.
Over the past year, she has learned quite a bit about the industry, and knows that trucking is not for everyone.
She makes it a point to convey that message to aspiring drivers by telling them, “Remember, trucking is not just a job, it is a lifestyle”, she said.
The good news is that there are a lot of people interested in that lifestyle.
“A new driver (at SGT) can make about $50,000 to $60,000 a year,” Bhatia said.
But some are only interested in working as contractors, an option SGT doesn’t offer.
Across Canada, many truckers are working under the so-called Driver Inc. business model that classifies employees as independent contractors. The drivers are incorporated and receive their pay without any source deductions.
The Ontario Trucking Association and other industry lobbying groups have been pushing to have this model stamped out.
“We don’t support that program at all,” Bhatia said.
She is now finalizing a plan to bring drivers from Jamaica under company sponsorship.
Bhatia has a message for young South Asians interested in the industry.
“There are a lot of students coming in, and they think trucking is just about money. Yes, it is good money, but it is not about money alone.”
She said people interested in the industry should explore all opportunities as there are a lot of non-trucker roles they could apply.
Bhatia lives in Brampton with her husband Sunil and six-year-old son, Tanmay.
A science graduate from New Delhi, India, she also dabbled in journalism and marketing before moving to Canada in 2013.
Her other interests are music and volunteering.
Bhatia has been in trucking for barely over a year, but she is already harboring a secret dream — of becoming a trucker herself one day.
“For now, I just want to ride along as a passenger. I can be a trucker when my son is old enough to take care of himself.”
By Abdul Latheef