The future of business is uncertain, and it is evident, as we have observed it changing day-by-day in these pandemic times. The only way to keep up with the ever-changing dynamics of business is to keep innovating. Some say innovation is a muse to persistence and leveraging it in business is the ultimate way to enhance one’s operations. It helps fill the gaps in the market, but it also provides an edge over the competition.
One person who is persistent in her daily life in achieving great things is Ellen Voie – CEO of Women In Trucking Association, Inc. This article will take you through her journey as a pioneer in the trucking business for women in an exclusive interview with CIO Look:
Kindly take us through your journey to becoming a proficient business leader.
As a young girl, I was always encouraged to try new things and to keep learning. I took industrial arts class instead of home economics because I wanted to learn woodworking, welding, drafting, and auto mechanics. This led me to a job at a steel fabricating plant where I was hired to draw material handling equipment. I was offered a promotion and moved to the shipping (traffic) department. I completed a course in Traffic & Transportation Management and was later promoted to Traffic Manager. I asked a lot of questions, but I also had a quest to learn new things. This started my career in the supply chain.
How do you diversify your organization’s services to entice the target audience?
Our organization is a nonprofit association with over 5,000 members. We ask our members for feedback all the time. We need to understand better what challenges they are facing as women in a maledominated environment. The more insights we receive, the better prepared we are to address any obstacles that might keep women from either entering the trucking industry or succeeding in her career in transportation.
What roadblocks or challenges were faced by you in a corporate business? How did you overcome them?
The biggest roadblock I experienced is similar to any woman working in a male-dominated environment, proving your capabilities. I had to show that I could work as hard, as smart, and as quickly as my male peers. In fact, women often feel they need to exceed expectations, and by doing so, we show others that we are dedicated to ensuring ourselves and our companies’ success. I kept asking questions and pursuing more education to enhance my reputation as a supply chain professional.
According to you, what are the vital traits that every CEO should possess?
Every CEO should possess tenacity. My dictionary defines tenacity as ‘the quality or fact of being very determined; persistence.’ We need to keep going, even when we are facing difficult challenges or personal obstacles. We can’t give up easily. A CEO has to set the tone for the entire organization by showing her team that she is determined and dedicated to the people’s success.
How do you sustain in the current unpredictable markets and heated competition?
We have to be nimble. We need to prepare ourselves to react to market changes quickly. For example, we had planned to have our conference in Dallas in September, but due to COVID 19, we switched to a virtual event instead. We had to reconsider each presentation, each speaker, and each workshop to ensure they were engaging in a virtual format.
How do you cope up with capricious technological trends to boost your personal growth?
I’ve always been an early adopter of technology, especially when it can make my life more comfortable or keep me connected to others. As I mentioned earlier, I like to keep learning, so keeping up with technological trends is a way to learn and challenge myself to stay current with what is available.
How do you maintain a balance between your professional & personal life?
We all need to learn to take time for ourselves to be healthy and balanced when others need us. For me, that means scheduling time in my day for a break to take a long walk. I listen to books on tape or talk radio on my walks to keep my mind off my work. My children are grown, so I don’t have youngsters to attend anymore, but I spend time with them and their families.
One other thing I do to challenge myself is to maintain my private pilot’s license and fly my Cessna Skyhawk as often as possible. Flying a single-engine airplane is not only a thrill; it’s a way to keep learning and to push your limits in the air.
How do you sustain your creative leadership spirit in this crucial time?
I’ve never really considered myself a creative person. Still, from the perspective of leadership, I would say I read as much as possible to be a better CEO. These days, I have to know how to motivate, challenge, and reward my team without being near them. We use virtual meeting platforms, of course, but we still take time to relieve the stress by interacting consistently. We’re all learning how to lead remotely, so I remember the best practices from others and adopt those that work for us.
What are your future endeavors/objectives, and where do you see yourself in the near future?
I founded the Women in Trucking Association thirteen years ago, and a recent challenge has been to find my successor. The board of directors asked for a succession plan in the event something happens to me. At the beginning of this year, I hired a vice president to start taking over some of my activities and ease into my role over a few years.
Quote– “I challenge myself both physically and mentally to see how far I can push my limits.”