The role of a CEO is a versatile one. Often, they are the face of the company to internal and external stakeholders, liaising with management, the board, and the public. They are responsible for the company’s long-term strategy and instill brand values in employees.
A CEO should have a clear direction in which they want to steer their business. Ambition and optimism are good things when grounded in reality, and the head of a company needs to believe in those goals. Inspiring others to buy into your vision is an important tool in leadership.
Changes in your industry, sector, and business can have a profound impact on your strategy, priorities, and the decisions you have to make. When necessary, accepting that and changing direction can be a powerful tool. A good CEO should also be able to adapt their role to what the company needs, whether that’s for a multinational conglomerate.
Excelling in the spotlight with exceptional traits and resolute leadership acumen, Ellen Voie exhibits brilliance as a coherent CEO of Women In Trucking Association.
In this exclusive interview with CIOLook, Ellen shares significant facts highlighting her professional tenure and ideology behind the establishment of Women In Trucking Association.
Below are the highlights from the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Women In Trucking Association. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
In 2007, I founded the Women In Trucking Association to create a more gender-diverse industry. The mission is to encourage women’s employment in the trucking industry, address obstacles, and celebrate our members’ success.
The initial challenge was to establish our credibility as an organization that would deliver on its goals. We reached 500 members in our first year, but in order to retain those members, we had to prove that we were making a difference and increasing the ranks of women at all levels, from driver to CEO.
My background in trucking began in 1979 when I became the assistant traffic manager at a steel fabricating plant. I earned my Traffic & Transportation Management diploma and became the Traffic Manager responsible for all outbound material handling equipment and all inbound raw steel products.
However, my focus on the personal side of the industry resulted from my role as co-owner of a small fleet with my former husband, as well as my eighteen years as a Transportation Consultant to small carriers in central Wisconsin.
Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.
The Women In Trucking Association exists simply to create a more gender-diverse trucking industry. Women are more risk averse in the boardroom and the C-suite as well as in the cab of a truck. This means women are less focused on power and hierarchy and more focused on team building and collaboration. Our organization is the resource for our industry to help them better understand WHY they need to hire more women and then HOW to attract and retain women.
We do research and create white papers and benchmarks. Our communication channels include an e-newsletter, our publication, Redefining the Road, webinars, and social media outlets.
Enlighten us on how you have impacted Transportation/Trucking/Railroad niche through your expertise in the market.
The resources we provide include our driver ambassador program, where a professional driver takes our trailer to events. Inside the trailer is a learning environment that includes touch screen monitors, videos, and a simulator.
We have an Image Team that gives rides to legislators, regulators, and the media so they can share their stories as professional drivers. Our annual conference attracted over 1,700 attendees, and we anticipate this year’s event to increase dramatically as we provide educational programs and opportunities to network and have fun.
Our recognition programs, such as our member of the month, driver of the year, Influential Woman in Trucking, and Distinguished Woman in Logistics, allow us to share these women’s stories so others can consider similar career options.
For me personally, I have spent my career learning about the challenges women face in a male-populated environment, and my passion is to address these obstacles to we can attract more women into trucking careers.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
The Women In Trucking Association is a virtual organization with thirteen members located in ten states. We have a results-oriented work environment, which means we measure output, not hours. Our associates have the flexibility they need for work-life balance. The only requirement is to get the work completed and to coordinate with others when needed.
We connect via virtual meetings on a consistent basis, so we stay attuned with each other’s progress. I am the type of leader to gives my team the autonomy they need to create the programs they are responsible for without much of my input. I hire people who are self-motivated.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
During the pandemic, we had to shift to a virtual conference which actually turned out well and was engaging and educational. Since then, we have continued to retain the virtual aspect despite returning to an in-person event, and this has allowed our members who cannot travel or have other conflicts to still benefit from our conference.
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the Transportation Sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
The most significant change will be the move away from diesel engines to more sustainably fueled vehicles. Electric trucks and those using alternative fuels will be more prevalent in the future. We can be the resource to provide information and to highlight those who are early adapters.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Women In Trucking Association?
I have announced my retirement this year, so my plans include assisting the new President/CEO into transitioning into my role. I plan to remain connected to the industry through speaking engagements and my weekly radio show on SiriusXM.
For the organization, my vision is continued growth, both in membership and for the annual conference. We currently have 8,000 members in ten countries, but we continue to expand outside North America to influence other nations in their gender diversity efforts.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the Transportation/Trucking/Railroad Sector?
My advice is to seek as much information as possible before you enter the industry. Ask a lot of questions and find someone to shadow in their role. There are so many opportunities for anyone looking at a career in the supply chain, so be sure you research all of your options to match your skills, talents, and career goals before you commit to any position.