Sudhanshu Malhotra – Riding high

Sudhanshu Malhotra

Sudhanshu Malhotra has an insatiable appetite for news, trucking industry news that is.

“My day starts with trucks and ends with trucks,” he said of his news-browsing habit during a chat with Road Today.

Just a few years ago, Malhotra knew nothing about the industry. Now, as the fleet manager at energy drink distributor Powerbev, he is one of the few millennials who have whole-heartedly embraced trucking.

Malhotra’s journey began in 2014, when he arrived in Canada from India as an international student pursuing business management studies at Lambton College in Sarnia, Ont.

The business course made sense because he already had a bachelor’s degree in commerce, and both his father and grandfather were accountants in Ludhiana, a city in the northwestern state of Punjab.

An overwhelming majority of Indian immigrants in the North American trucking industry is from Punjab.

Malhotra, 31, got a big break soon after finishing school when he found a co-op position as a safety compliance administrator with the trucking consulting firm ABS SafeCom in Mississauga, Ont.

Until then he had no interest in trucking, and unlike many of his compatriots, none of his relatives was in trucking.

“Nobody was in trucking, (I was) never asked to be in trucking, and I didn’t want to be in trucking at all at the beginning,” Malhotra said. In fact, he said he wasn’t even aware that the industry was “that big.”

“Now I love this thing. I cannot stay away from trucking.”

Always itching for more knowledge, Malhotra attends multiple events each year and takes courses that helps improve his skills.

Last June, he was among the 12 young leaders graduating from the Driven to Lead Program, affiliated to the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada.

And later this year, he plans to take a course on risk management at the University of Toronto.

At Powerbev, Malhotra manages fleet budgets, insurance, acquisition and maintenance. The company has a mixed fleet of more than 200 vehicles.

“Whatever happens to the fleet nationwide comes to me.”

A regular in trucking’s social circuit, Malhotra volunteers for several organizations.

He is also the only man on the board of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, an organization based in Cambridge, Ont., which promotes the empowerment of women.

“I don’t mind being there because the women on the board want to make an impact on the industry,” Malhotra said.

Learning through women’s eyes is great too because they have a different experience and perspective, he added.

Malhotra’s message to millennials reluctant to enter the industry is that there are “tons of opportunities” awaiting them.

A recent survey suggested that millennials are warming up to non-trucker jobs even as they despise a longhaul driving career.

“I think the opportunities are not being brought to their attention. Only the driver’s job is being highlighted,” Malhotra said.

And talking of driving, Malhotra has completed the mandatory entry-level training, and hopes to acquire his AZ licence sometime this year.

“I want to experience the roads (driving a large commercial truck).”

Profile by Abdul Latheef