From driver to leader….

July 20, 2015

When we announced the 2015 Women In Trucking Influential Woman of the Year; there were many comments on social media about the absence of professional drivers from the list.

Is there a career progression from professional driver to industry leader?  Probably not.

The characteristics that make a good, safe, professional driver are not the same as those of a woman who is working her way up the corporate ladder.

A recent survey by the Financial Women’s Association ( found that the way for women to advance in the corporate structure is to move outside their comfort zone and take risks. How is this accomplished? It includes asking for additional assignments, speaking up at meetings, and taking on leadership roles within the organization.

While female drivers are typically independent and self confident, they must possess some characteristics that don’t always support a leadership role. First, professional drivers are comfortable being alone for hours at a time. Many female drivers are hesitant to train new drivers because they prefer “their own space.”

In order to be a manager, you must be a people person. You need to be happy in a corporate environment surrounded by co-workers, where you accept the fact that your day is spent inside a building instead of outdoors. To be a manager, you need to lead your staff and support and encourage them on a daily basis.

Professional drivers often prefer being their own boss.

Most drivers detest the idea of their chair being behind a desk instead of a windshield. They love the view and appreciate the sunrises and sunsets that mark the start or end of their day. Ask any driver if she would enjoy the same view for her workday and she’ll usually shake her head and tell you how much she loves seeing the countryside.

Finally, a professional driver must be dedicated to safety. This means she must be patient and always remain calm. She cannot allow inept motorists, disrespectful shippers and receivers, changing dispatch instructions or bad weather to distract her. She must take her time and keep her focus on maintaining safe distances and speeds.

Compare this to her counterpart who has chosen a life within a cubicle, surrounded by office distractions and co-workers who must push herself outside her comfort zone on a daily basis.

These two women are not typically compatible.

We applaud any woman who moves out of the truck and into the office and finds her way into the C-suite. We would love to hear from women who have made this transition and upward progression and we applaud you.

Until then, we truly appreciate the role women have as professional drivers and as leaders within the industry. Women In Trucking Association represents both of these groups, as well as their male peers.

About the Author

Ellen Voie | President/CEO

Ellen Voie founded the Women In Trucking Association in 2007 and serves as the nonprofit’s President/CEO. Women In Trucking was formed to promote the employment of women in the trucking industry, remove obstacles that might keep them from succeeding, and to celebrate the successes of its members. Ellen was the Manager of Retention and Recruiting Programs at Schneider National, Inc.,

Ellen earned a diploma in Traffic and Transportation Management while employed as Traffic Manager for a steel fabricating plant in 1979.  She is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) with an MA in Communication from UW-Stevens Point, where she completed her research on the complex identities of women married to professional drivers. She holds a Class A CDL. In 2012 Ellen was honored by the White House as a Transportation Innovator Champion of Change

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Report: The 2024 State of Heavy-Duty Repair

From capitalizing on the latest revenue trends to implementing strategic financial planning—this report serves as a roadmap for navigating the challenges and opportunities of ...

Fleet Industry Benchmarks: How does your fleet stack up?

Discover how your fleet compares to industry benchmarks and gain insights from a 2024 Benchmarking Report on maintenance spend, turnaround time, and more. Join us to identify ...

Build a Tolling Program to Manage Toll Fees and Risks

Fleets looking to effectively manage their operational costs should consider their tolling costs. Download the PrePass whitepaper, “Build a Tolling Program to Manage Toll Fees...

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...