Ellen Voie

Interview by
Published on
December 14, 2022

In this episode...

In part 2 of Life By The Mile’s conversation with Women In Trucking Association CEO Ellen Voie, Ellen talks about the motivation behind the founding of Women In Trucking - how this community is crucial towards empowering more women to take on trucking, giving them the confidence to let their voice be heard in the workplace, and remind them that they can do anything in life that they’re passionate about. This special episode of Life By The Mile goes out to all the fantastic women in trucking - delivered by FreightWorks.

Ellen Voie

Ellen Voie is an industry leader and spokesperson globally for issues related to women in trucking and strategic ways to grow their participation as owners, operators and supply chain change agents.


always wanted Empower and support women that's always been in me boy I've always felt like women need a voice and and women need the confidence and you know to be supported and empowered welcome to life of the mile delivered by great works one of America's fastest growing podcasts actually produced by Trump indicted to tell story compelling drivers I need to do something insightful industry Excellence all here right now it's life by the mile delivered by freightworks I'm your host Butch malpe uh this is a special episode number two with Ellen Boya among other things she founded women in trucking uh this is going to be a truncated shorter episode but we're gonna go deep and wide and quick all right so Ellen why did you start winning Trucking yeah well um I was working for a large trucking company here in um Wisconsin and my job was manager of retention and recruiting programs and they said figure out how to attract and retain non-traditional groups and that included women and at the time I was getting my pilot's license and I belonged to a women's Aviation organization and I thought why isn't there anything for women in the trucking industry right so put together a board of directors got all the legal paperwork done wrote had we all wrote the mission statement and in March of 2007 women in trucking was born right now what what is so interesting to me is that uh you know you've got this Amelia Earhart thing in you don't you I mean you you you were a pilot like when did you decide you wanted to fly um I actually got my license in 2008 so it took a couple years before that but um yeah I I decided that I I don't even know why I was driving by the local airport and it there's a sign up that's there that said Learn to Fly here something made me pull in and I started talking to the instructor and I thought okay let's do it and here we are uh since 2008 I own an airplane I have a hanger I do and my house what kind of plane I have a Cessna 172. okay it's a four-seater um and my house actually overlooks the airport so I see airplanes flying out my window all the time you've got to write your book you have got you've got to write your book now it's a little aside I had a senate appointment at the Air Force Academy and I turned it down my dad was a C-130 pilot in the Air Force and he flew for American Airlines and he didn't talk to me for six months after that so I I love Aviation it's always been in my blood that is so interesting Ellen now listen what what do you what do you think caused you to suit up and show up and one day say I want to be an advocate for women in trucking like what was the Epiphany when did that happen you know I think I've always had that I've always wanted to empower and support women um that's always been in me um but it really I don't know I I don't I don't remember a time where I ever wasn't that way I've always felt like women need a voice and and women need the confidence and you know to be supported and empowered so um you know that's why my kids are my daughters an overachiever I mean she works in artificial intelligence she's got a masters from Purdue you know I mean I think because it's like you go girl and you can do this and I had a mom who was like that I had a mom who I mean I took shop class in high school because I said to my mom I don't want to take home economics um I can pay someone to cook and clean and you know but I want to know how to fix myself I can completely see that in you Ellen we we don't know each other well but I I sense that about you that that's that's that's powerful and and she empowered your mom empowers you to do that right oh yeah absolutely and we're talking back in the 70s you know and and so it was it didn't matter if you were a girl or a boy you just should do what you want to do and my sister and I were very involved in sports and my brothers weren't um and I I'll never forget a day so we we there were five children in our family we rotated chores um because my mom said the boys had to learn to clean the bathroom the boys had to learn to wash dishes and girls had to learn to mow the lawn and to take out the garbage you know and and so we rotated chores and you know it wasn't girls had the girls chores and boys had the boys tours not in my family and I'll tell you a quick story but my dad was the Undertaker I come from a long family of undertakers but okay yeah he also um was uh uh Chief at the fire department and they brought their first female firefighter in and someone made a comment like oh good she can make the coffee and my dad said my dad said if you ever ask her to make the coffee when it's not her turn you will report to me and and that's that's the way my parents were it's like anything you know and and we didn't have traditional roles you know it was just what what do you wanted to do just go do it right and so and so uh you know I I know that you engage with younger women that are considering transportation and Logistics like if you had a hundred young women from high schools here in Western North Carolina and they're all wondering should I go to college should I pursue a different path what would be your message to them well first of all I'd say what are your strengths what do you enjoy doing because you know that you know if when you go to work you need to enjoy what you're doing so do you like driving do you like being out on the road do you like the independence you know things like that what what what makes you happy what what energizes you right um so I would say really understand and then um test out you know talk to people who are in that role and say you know what what's the lifestyle like what are the skills that I need things like that so I would say really do your homework um and then test it like go for a ride if you want to be a driver go for a ride with someone and see if you like it um if you want to be a safety director go to a trucking company and say can I just visit with the safety director and watch them Shadow them for a day I mean there's there's so many opportunities and people are so willing to share that that I I would say just go test it out now are are there a lot like for for most if if a woman wants to get into Trucking what would you suggest like how where do they start like who do they call what do they do well I would say call us right we have a lot of resources make make sure right now you reinforce exactly the website the phone number all of them you got it yeah so yeah women intrucking.org we have so much information on there we also have mentoring programs um and so we can match you with someone who does that job if you want to learn more about logistics we can match you with someone in logistics if you want to be a driver a maintenance a diesel technician you know we have um other women who are doing those jobs that are willing to share what they know so I would say go to womenandtrucking.org attend our conference um our webinars are free um you know find a mentor and uh just get on our social media and follow us now are are you finding that oems are finding the companies and and others are more and more getting behind your message really in fact you know be about a participation award at our conference and Amazon brought they won they Award with 74 people so if these companies weren't believing in what we're doing at women in trucking they wouldn't send so many people to our conference you don't see Trucking conferences where there's 74 people from one company but at ours they know that they're learning and they're they're being empowered and they're also networking all right okay so a couple of other quick things we're not going to make this a long episode if uh if if somebody is mid-career it's it's it's a woman who's who's mid-career have you seen great stories of people that say you know what I don't like what I'm doing but I want to move into Trucking and Logistics have you seen that do you have some stories like that yeah um actually you know what's interesting for drivers we're seeing a lot of women coming in from the medical Fields interesting very much so because they were burned out in a pandemic I I like to say to people I said they got tired of people coughing on them but so many women I sat at a table with uh a bunch of women who had been nurses and aides I'd worked in nursing homes and they just were burned out and so they said I just want to get in a truck and drive and and so and also women coming in from service Industries because a lot of the service Industries sit down restaurants hotels convention centers you know they all close during the pandemic we have jobs and we have jobs that aren't going away and that can't be outsourced so we're getting women in from other Industries who look at the trucking industry and say hmm hadn't thought about that but I'm going I'm going to check it out that that that that is so interesting so uh just a couple of more quick quick questions here are there some people that are are kind of known in the marketplace that had a a trucking experience like are there people from Hollywood or people in education or I'd like like are there some unusual stories of of people that at some point in their life Trucking and Logistics was part of their path you know I know of some athletes who drove truck um you know before they became professional athletes I don't really you know I think that's that's a great question Butch because I don't think that there's enough of that okay I think and and here's another interesting thing people come into the trucking industry and they don't leave no there's and they might move around or go to different companies or different roles in the industry but there's something about this industry and it's not about trucks and it's not about Freight it's about the people and it's it's people who are moving these loads and driving these trucks and dispatching these trucks and fixing these trucks so there's something about this industry that once we're in it we just don't leave it it it's so interesting it's one of the reasons why I used to have an office at the main office here at freightworks and I said you know what I'm not meant for that so this is freightworks one Studio this is life by the mile delivered by freightworks I'm your host Butch malpe Ellen Boyer the founder of women in trucking beyond that she's an incredible voice to many places about Trucking and Logistics but you know I said I want to I want to be around the corner from the driver's Lounge why because that's my education and and when I go out there and say hey friend a woman or man you know we I think we have about 20 female drivers here we're an asset based Carrier about a hundred and I think 55 trucks you know a new Peterbilts by the way Peterbilt 579s and we got a another group of those coming in but when I go out there in the driver's Lounge Ellen and I tell people hey tell me what it's like on the road and I'm I'm gonna do a a coast to coast thing and do podcasts from the road here soon so what would you give me his advice on that like I'm on my first trip across country you know I'm glad that you're going

the woman and trucking elected officials we give legislators and Regulators um and media a lot of media a ride in a truck and the first thing is um ask a lot of questions and and when we when we do a ride along with someone and if especially if it's the media they're going to be asking the driver a lot of questions anyway but we want our elected officials we just gave Robin Hutchinson a ride she's the in the new FMCSA administrator yes you know we we want them to ask questions and get it just a taste and I hear this over and over from drivers and they go oh well they're not going to learn anything in two days and I'll say to them true they're learning a little bit maybe not what you want them to know but then again are you taking the time to understand their job right right I mean the fact that somebody is taking time out of their job their busy schedule to go ride with a driver to me I don't care if it's two days or two weeks you know or two hours um the fact that they're willing to get in that truck and ask questions and get a little bit of an experience of what it's like I I remember we took our state Secretary of Transportation um he went for a ride in it in a drive a Walmart truck with a female driver and I was following behind with her husband in a Walmart truck and someone pulled out in front of her and I watched and you know as this happened and you know hitting the brakes and luckily she avoided any Collision but I thought I'm so glad that that happened because the Secretary of Transportation needs to see a real uh you know depiction of what life is like for drivers in its cars who cut them off so you know it's it's I would say ask a lot of questions um enjoy it ask questions of the customers too right you know ask you know the customers uh questions and the big thing is find out what your driver what the challenges are a lot of female drivers aren't allowed to use the restrooms right you know so ask you know what are facilities here do you have Wi-Fi for the driver do you have a restroom do you have a lounge I mean or you're treating our drivers yes um is very important Ellen that that is that is so good now I'm not I'm not gonna I'm not gonna do a casual trip like I'm gonna go for a week or eight days or something I want to sleep in the truck I thought you're gonna say make sure you bring your own pillow oh or sleeping bag whatever or or whatever yeah and um listen I I also want to say this in in 2023 life of the mile is is very open to doing a uh any kind of a trip where we can report on what women in in trucking is doing you know you're you're always insightful you've given us a lot of time today we're gonna make this a shorter episode just real quickly again if anybody wants to get in touch with you the best way to do that is how womenintrucking.org and while also follow us on social media everything is women in trucking so our Twitter handle of course is women in trucking lots and lots of social media um and I would I would ask everyone to consider becoming a member because we're a Jews based organization and so we survive um based on the money that people pay to join and renew right and so right now Butch we're at 7 600 members um in 10 countries so uh yeah we're and we're creating chapters and we're you know we're really expanding we're doing a lot of research and white papers we've got white papers on uh harassment in the industry um parking we've got a parking you know safety things like that so lots of information on our website um the new driver portal I'm really proud of if you click on the word driver on our website again womenandtrucking.org um it's it's got lots of information like how to choose a care or how to choose a school how to stay healthy on the road how to stay in touch with your family and and the information is coming from drivers that is so good and you know what at the risk of it sounding like I'm being promotional about our company our vice president of operations is Joyce Sakura she's the one who actually told me to get to know you Ellen it's been one of the most important recommendations that I've followed up on and we want to do our part here at freightworks in the coming years so offline we'll we'll have a conversation about what we can do to more tangibly support the good work that you're doing this life of the mile delivered by freightworks I'm your host Butch Maltby this is Ellen Boya she's the founder of women in trucking among other things make sure you check them out and if you're a woman or a man that's interested in trucking and Logistics you're going to find great information on their web platform and uh you know Ellen let's talk again soon okay absolutely absolutely thank you so much Butch for having me on

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