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DALLAS — Seasoned trucking leaders kicked off the Women In Trucking Association’s annual conference with a message of encouragement and perseverance.
The conference, which drew 1,100 representatives of the trucking and logistics industries, began Sept. 30. Ramona Hood, vice president of operations, strategy and planning at FedEx Custom Critical, urged attendees to be comfortable trying unfamiliar roles. Hood spoke during the conference’s opening session. FedEx Custom Critical specializes in expedited freight, offering temperature control and increased security services.
She acknowledged willingness to try an unfamiliar role allowed her to move from her position in the operations division into a sales job with which she was less familiar.
“For me, it was important to not stay comfortable but always ask, ‘How can I continue to learn?’ ” Hood said. “It was being intentional with what I wanted to do.”
Angela Eliacostas by Eleanor Lamb/Transport Topics
Hood joined the transportation industry 28 years ago as a receptionist. When she moved into a position in the operations division, she said she started to appreciate the importance of mentors.
Hood also emphasized the value of sponsors, which she defined as someone in a decision-making role who believes in you and can put forth your name for big tasks.
“A sponsor is the most important role you can have,” Hood said. “[It’s] someone in a position of authority who’s in the rooms you’re not in.”
Angela Eliacostas, founder and CEO of AGT Global Logistics, cited the continuous pursuit of knowledge and integrity as two of the most important skills needed to excel in a field. Eliacostas won the Influential Woman in Trucking award at last year’s WIT conference.
Born to working parents, Eliacostas spent time with her dad by manually fueling his trucks. Her first transportation job was as a billing clerk; within seven years, she had moved to a managerial role. Ultimately, she started AGT Global Logistics, initially branded as All Girls Transportation & Logistics Inc.
The speakers each forged their professional paths while balancing roles as mothers. Eliacostas raised four sons largely on her own. WIT President Ellen Voie raised her children after marrying a man she hired. Hood had two daughters and went through a divorce before she returned to school to earn a master’s degree.
“Your story is never just about work,” Hood said. “Your story is about your whole self.”
WIT’s conference will continue through Oct. 2. The event will include sessions on driver wellness, generational differences, mentorship and recruitment.
During her remarks, Voie mentioned the association’s recently announced leadership succession plan, including a new transitional vice president position. Deborah Sparks will assume that role in anticipation of succeeding Voie in the coming years.
Sparks will remain in her position as director of transportation and community outreach at Wreaths Across America through the end of the year. In the past, she has held roles at the Truckload Carriers Association and American Trucking Associations.
“She will be starting in January of 2020 and, no, I’m not going anywhere,” Voie said. “It’s going to take a long time for her to learn all the ropes and work her way into it.”
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