Women in Transport

On October 13th I was honoured to be awarded the Fleet Transport Magazine Award for ‘Women in Transport 2017’. Transport has been my life and my passion and I have put it first for many years, foregoing a “normal” life with normal working hours. Many nights out and holidays cancelled at short notice. However, I like to think that I got a lot back, not least the love of what I do. When I left the industry for a time I missed it daily, describing it as missing “the buzz”.

I have worked in transport and logistics since the 1980s and unlike most women working in transport, I have worked in all roles ranging from driving, warehousing, administration, IT, finance, sales and everything in between. This wide range of experience has given me a unique perspective on all aspects of transport / logistics. I was fortunate to be involved from day one in starting a courier business that developed into a nationwide distribution service, in conjunction with developing a fully operational logistics operation. The transport business enabled me to build on my interest in systems by designing software for our own use and also for resale and potential development as a shelf product.

When I started delivering I was an unusual sight amongst all the truck drivers. This allowed me to jump the queues on a regular basis. Once when having a POD signed I was informed that I would be useful for weddings. I was not sure of the exact proposition but I changed my route soon afterwards. When I progressed to driving the forklift I gained experience while knocking paint off the rear of the some of the best-liveried trucks in the country, to the dismay of their drivers. Waiting for trucks to come in on a night shift with only a German Shepherd Monty for company, meant that in addition to getting paperwork done, I managed to train Monty to jump a course of obstacles in the warehouse. When we moved into logistics I had the dubious pleasure of testing “turret trucks” – having a fear of falling, this was not an easy task.

On CILT training courses I often stood out as the sole woman in the group. This usually meant that I got to know everyone and I gained invaluable knowledge from my co-participants, often travelling to visit their business afterwards and reciprocating. There is always something to be learnt.

The changes that the industry experienced from the 80s to date are immense. The development of logistics and the importance of systems to service providers and their customers opened up my interest in TMS. The development of the pallet networks in Ireland opened up a different market again and it was interesting to see the development from the UK model to the model that became successful in Ireland. Our diverse customer base taught me the value of KPI’s across a broad spectrum of industry segments.

The role of women within the transport industry was traditionally perceived as an administrative role and often when visiting a site I was struck by the competence that was sitting under-utilised and under-valued in a male-dominated preserve. Thankfully that is no longer the norm and the industry has a lot of strong women who have overachieved by the standards of their male counterparts. As any woman in transport knows, you have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good. That said, the demands of the industry make it difficult for women to combine the 24/7 element with the demands of parenthood and I absolutely applaud any woman who has managed to do this successfully.

The evening of the Fleet Transport Awards for 2017 was a memorable one for me. I was a finalist surrounded by my Cold Move colleagues who are a pleasure to work with every day. The passion and dedication of my team are a daily inspiration to me and I strive every day to encourage this love of the business. There was more than one future winner at our table on the night and one or two more that could not make it on the night. Yet I was looking around the room at friends and colleagues old and new, many of whom have become great friends of many years standing. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have worked with and for some of the most amazing “People in Transport”, among them some “Women in Transport”.