Entrepreneurship is one of the most critical engines of growth in the corporate world, and men no longer remain its only drivers. The era of open-minded societal norms is upon us and several women entrepreneurs have taken the startup ecosystem by storm; seemingly at par with the opposing gender in terms of both business ideas and skills. Much of this shift can be attributed to Ellen Voie, whose vision of women empowerment led to the formation of Women In Trucking Association Inc. The non-profit organization was formed to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry and to break past the hurdles and celebrate successes.
The Motivation behind the Drive
Like most people who attribute their parents for giving them the motivation to succeed, Ellen too fell into that category. However for her, it was the loss of her mother who was diagnosed with a fatal illness when she was 19 years old that motivated her. “Not only did it make me realize that we are not immortal, but it promoted me to push myself in the event my time on earth was limited,” Ellen recalls. The untimely demise of her mother gave Ellen a sense of urgency to define her own success and to make a difference for those around her.
As a child, her mother encouraged her by saying that she could do anything if she sets her mind and focus on it, and she believed her. “I had the attitude that if others could accomplish something (unless it was related to talent, not determination) than I could do it as well or better.” It gave her the drive and inspiration to test her limits and challenge herself every step of the way.
Ensuring Gender Diversity in Transportation
Originated in 2007, Women In Trucking (WIT) is a non-profit organization focused on the transportation and logistics industry. The company strives to achieve its mission of ameliorating the percentage of women in the transportation industry. Over the last ten years, through the support of numerous transportation companies, drivers and dedicated individuals, WIT has made significant strides in achieving its mission. With nearly 4000 members worldwide, from drivers to technicians, to engineers and women in leadership roles, the company supports both women and men who support its mission.
As a trade/professional organization, WIT offers networking opportunities both virtually and in person. It has many resources, such as its recruiting guidelines and anti-harassment employment guide. The company conducts a lot of research on the industry to better understand how to address the issues facing women in a non-traditional career. “We honor female professional drivers as well as recognize a distinguished woman in logistics and an influential woman in trucking annually,” Ellen exclaims.
The Understated Industry of Trucking
The trucking industry is heavily regulated and thereby creates a challenge in balancing a driver’s needs with that of the customer’s needs as well as the carrier’s needs. In addition to these challenges, the amount of technology installed in trucks is truly amazing. From anti-roll over equipment, cameras, and sensors both inside and outside of the trucks, and global position units to track the truck and its freight, drivers are not isolated by any means.
Speaking about the understated importance of the trucking industry, Ellen asserts “The trucking industry needs to do a better job in educating the public about its importance. Very few people look at that 18 wheeler on the road next to them and think about the clothing or gasoline or the groceries they buy each day. Without trucks, shelves, and gas tanks our stomachs would be empty.”
Connecting with People and a Vision for the future
Ellen holds a Masters’ Degree in communication, with an emphasis on Interpersonal communication. As stated by her, she believes her greatest attribute to success is her striking ability to connect with people. “I listen and learn and find out what drives people.”
As the CEO of WIT, Ellen faces the challenge of ensuring that she is representing her members. The company’s diverse group of members makes this even more challenging. “I not only report to a board of directors, but I have a staff and I work with government entities as well, so there is a balance on whose voices are being heard.”
Ellen’s vision for women in business is for them to be empowered. She concludes with an inspiring advice “Believe in yourself and challenge yourself. I wear a necklace that reads, ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ I believe this and live my life by pushing myself to test my limits. I hope every woman reading this will do the same.”