Entrepreneurship has become a viable means of economic self-sufﬁciency and nowadays many women are choosing an enterprise connected to transportation to be part of their career aspirations. One such inspiring businesswoman is Ellen Voie, Founder, President and CEO of Women In Trucking Association. Through her work and leadership skills, Ellen is breaking the barriers of occupational segregation and encouraging the employment of women in the trucking industry, promoting their accomplishments, and minimizing obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.
Focused on the transportation and logistics industry, Women In Trucking Association is a non-proﬁt organization with over 5,000 members in ten countries. The goal is simply to increase the percentage of women in the trucking industry. It represents the women who design, build, sell, own, ﬁx and drive trucks. The company asserts “We are very proud that ﬁfteen percent of our members are men who believe in our mission. We’re not FOR women as much as we are ABOUT women.”
“Living by self-imposed expectations sets an example for others to raise themselves to the same level”
In an interview with Insights Success, Ellen described her journey, challenges, success, and how she became an inspiration for millions of women.
Below are the highlights of interview:
Kindly take us through your journey on becoming an innovative business leader.
Since childhood I have always challenged myself, both in learning new things and in pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. I’ve never stopped the quest to learn and to experience new things. I participated in sports and took industrial arts class in high school. I was trained in Trafﬁc and Transportation Management, which gave me the skills to later manage my own consulting ﬁrm while I raised my family. I later earned my credentials as a Certiﬁed Association Executive (CAE) and accepted a position as the Executive Director of a non-proﬁt organization called “Trucker Buddy International.” I ran that program for six years before I accepted a position at a large midwestern carrier as Manager of Retention and Recruiting Programs.
That was in 2007 when the Women In Trucking Association was formed. I copied a lot from a female pilot’s organization but tapped into the people who supported this mission. I had a great team who shared my passion, and we put together a fantastic staff, board and support group. Here we are, nearly fourteen years later, with a success story I could never have imagined.
Have you drawn professional inspiration from other business leaders? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.
There are many woman who I admire for their tenacity and aspirations that drive their success. We’ve found at Women In Trucking Association that mentorship is extremely important. To have someone to help you manoeuvre through challenges, steer you away from mistakes and to help you work through problems is invaluable. I have had man mentors, and I have mentored others. There are many women in leadership roles willing to take on a mentee, but we don’t need to limit our mentors to women. In fact, men can often elevate us in our careers through their networks. Gender shouldn’t be an issue when you’re looking for a mentor.
What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring?
The trucking industry is very interested in creating a more diverse environment and is actively seeking women to ﬁll roles in safety, dispatch, leadership and as professional drivers. An advanced degree is always helpful, but not required to be successful in transportation. Technical skills are valued, and a safety director, mechanic and dispatcher can ﬁnd great careers without earning graduate degrees. I believe that humility and compassion are crucial to success. No one wants to be around someone who takes credit for others’ work, who doesn’t acknowledge the input of others and who wants to be the center of attention. Success is about raising those around you instead of elevating yourself.
A positive attitude will bring more people to you as a leader. It’s very hard to be around someone who keeps looking backward with remorse and looking forward with despair. In order to motivate, we need to be focused on bringing our teams with us to success.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
Since my children are grown and I am single, I can tell you that I don’t have a great work life balance. However, my job allows me to travel and visit other countries, so I take time to enjoy these sights. If there is anything that allows me to ﬁnd balance it would be my daily walk. I walk four miles each day and listen to books on tape, or music, as my mood dictates.
How do you cope up with capricious technological trends to boost your personal growth?
Technology is only a tool. Once you recognize that this tool is something to be used as needed, you can control your “submission” to it. I don’t allow it to rule my time, and the silence button is used often. On the ﬂip side, knowing what applications beneﬁt your productivity can enhance your personal growth. I have apps that track my steps and my calorie intake as well as apps to help me in my extensive travel schedule, but I don’t use apps that distract me from doing my job.
What would you tell emerging business leaders who are just starting to work? What would you like them to know?
My advice for budding entrepreneurs is to truly determine what you can bring to your industry, your community or your social network. You have something to contribute to empower others, but you need to identify what that skill, talent or passion is and stay true to your mission. Don’t get side-tracked by others who want you to accommodate their goals. Write it down and read it back daily if not more often. Stay focused.
What are your future endeavors/objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future?
As the founder of the organization, I have been the face and the voice since its inception. Now, we are in a transitional phase to bring on my successor. We recently hired a vice president who will eventually assume my role as President and CEO. This will be a shift in our identity in the coming years. Retirement is in my future!