When asked to envision a truck driver, do any stereotypes come to mind? What if I told you that the newly appointed CEO of a $100 million trucking company is a yoga instructor and holistic life coach who spent their twenties hitchhiking and drifting between art schools in Europe?
Meet Caitlin Welby, the 32-year-old CEO of RFX global trucking with a bohemian lifestyle, arm for business and pioneering vision to reshape the presumably unglamorous and male-dominated industry of truck driving.
As of late, the trucking industry is facing hardships where drivers are retiring faster than the new hires stepping up to take their place, resulting in a shortage of nearly 40,000 drivers. Some repercussions of this shortage include price hikes in product for companies and consumers alike.
How could this shortage of truck drivers be resolved? By changing the face of the industry: women truckers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 5.8% of truck drivers were women in 2014. To boost these numbers, organizations like WIT are addressing various obstacles females face in the trucking industry and providing them with tools and resources to build a successful career as a truck driver.
Ellen Voie, president of the nonprofit organization Women In Trucking, said that image has long been the biggest hurdle keeping more women from considering careers in transportation. One of these image hurdles is that trucking, specifically the greenhouse gas emissions, is harmful to the environment; but with the help of women in the industry like Welby, the possibility for positive change is growing rapidly.
“I have a serious, serious focus on real food, clean water, and fresh air for all Americans,” she says. “And I’m starting with America,” Welby said during an interview with fastcompany.com.
Millennials publicly express concern regarding clean eating and climate change, and with Welby’s ethical principles regarding humans and the environment, she may easily bridge the gap between Millennial’s moral concerns on trucking and become the face needed to transition interest in truck driving from the Baby Boomers to Millennials.
So what are some benefits of becoming a truck driver?
1. Be your own boss. On the road, you are in control. Make your own playlists, sing a loud as you want, and live by the freedom of the open road.
2. Earn up to $50,000 a year. Due to the increasing need for new drivers, companies are willing to provide a generous salary. Some larger companies even provide sign-on bonuses.
3. Travel all over the United States. From the rocky coasts of New England to the Smokey Mountains and red rocks in Arizona, the United States provides a vast array of landscapes that are nothing short of scenic.
4. Experience new foods, cultures and hospitality. Whether you’re trying southern gumbo for the first time or feasting on seafood from the Pacific Coast, life as a truck driver becomes one diverse vacation filled with new experiences and perspectives.
5. Create your own American Dream. Take photos of interesting things you see, write about interesting faces you see in truck stops and diners—the possibility to create your own story and opportunities are endless.