Photo: Alexis Burns
Alexis Burns

2020 Women in Transportation: Alexis Burns

July 16, 2020
Alexis Burns, controller at Veriha Trucking, not only oversees Veriha's accounting department, but she also oversees the fleet's information technology department.

Many who end up in trucking get their start by accident, and Alexis Burns, controller at Veriha Trucking Inc., is no different. 

Burns just celebrated her five-year anniversary at Veriha Trucking, which provides transportation solutions in 48 states and parts of Canada. The company has a fleet of 250-plus drivers and hauls everything from paper products to groceries, produce, pet food, auto parts, and more. Veriha Trucking is owned by Karen Smerchek, who was featured in FleetOwner’s 2017 Women In Transportation feature.  

As controller, Burns oversees not only Veriha’s accounting department and financials, but she also oversees the carrier’s information technology department. For what she calls a “hybrid role,” Burns taps into her accounting and business intelligence background. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s in business administration with a focus on business informatics, which provides insight on how to utilize business intelligence data and reporting to drive informed business decisions. 

Veriha Trucking is Burns’ first introduction to the industry.  

“I enjoy the trucking industry so much because there is so much to learn, there is so much data, and there are so many different areas that you can use that data and truly drive decisions—whether it be mpg-related, total miles, deadhead in the operations area, expenses, and all those different things,” she said.  

When Burns first started at Veriha, she said that the company didn’t have much in terms of business intelligence reporting. But soon after she started, the carrier implemented IBM’s Cognos Analytics, which has been one of Burns’ main focuses. 

As a self-proclaimed “data nerd,” Burns said she most enjoys leveraging data to help save money and truck drivers’ time.  

“I have been driving those business intelligence reports and getting them in front of the decision makers and the people who make adjustments to improve certain areas,” she said. “I think it’s just exciting to see them make those adjustments and to see the savings and benefits from it. I would have never put myself in this industry, but I definitely have enjoyed it.” 

When Burns started her career in trucking five years ago, she explained that she felt almost inadequate in many ways because she was so new to the industry and had so much to learn. So, she tried to take past experiences from previous roles and translate them into trucking, but she found out that it doesn’t quite work that way for this particular industry. 

“I think that has been one of my bigger challenges—realizing that what worked in other industries is completely different in trucking,” she noted. “I have had to change my mindset to the way trucking works and adapt.” 

Now that Burns has figured out her role in trucking, she is part of the TCA Trucking Profitability Program data analytics group. The first in-person meeting was initially scheduled for April, but because of COVID-19, the group had to kick things off virtually.  

Earlier this year, Burns was also nominated for and named to the Women In Trucking (WIT) Association’s Top Women to Watch in Transportation. The editorial staff of WIT’s Redefining the Road magazine selected individuals for their significant career accomplishments in the past 12 to 18 months as well as their efforts to promote gender diversity in trucking. This year, WIT’s publication identified 51 women who have been nominated as top performers. 

Those listed on the 2020 Top Women to Watch in Transportation work for motor carriers, third-party logistics companies, equipment manufacturers, retailer truck dealers, professional services companies, technology innovators, and private fleets.  

As someone who still feels relatively new to trucking, Burns said she would tell others looking to jumpstart their career in the industry to keep an open mind. 

“I am constantly learning something, and I love it. Just be ready to learn, embrace it, and dive in.”  

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore was previously the Editor-in-chief of FleetOwner magazine. She reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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