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Women in transport talk about family pressures and industry challenges

Heather Mathiesen, vice president and general manager of Caneda Transport, remembers the day she was told that women don’t run trucking companies. His uncle told him.

That didn’t scare her away from the transportation industry, however. While Mathiesen joined the family business later in her career, initially focusing on customs issues, she quickly proved herself. And after about a year of work, his uncle came to the office with a stack of business cards.

“You’re already doing the work,” he told her, referring to the title she currently holds. “Now it’s your turn.” It was 11 years ago.

Andreea Crisan, president and CEO of Andy Transport, stressed the need to spend “quality time” wherever it needs to be. (Photo: John G. Smith)

This isn’t the only challenge female transportation executives face in an industry where, according to Trucking HR Canada, women make up just 15% of the overall workforce and 5% of managerial or supervisory positions. .

Andreea Crisan, president and CEO of Andy Transport, hears critical comments as she picks up her daughter from daycare at 6 p.m., an hour later than other mums. “I’ve never felt more guilty than in the past two years,” the mother-of-two admitted during a panel discussion at the Toronto Transportation Club’s Ladies Lunch. “I can’t be in more than one place at once.”

But she insisted on the need to find a balance between work and private life.

“I do my best every time I’m at work. I do my best when I’m with my girls. I try to spend quality time in every place I need to be,” she said. These days, that can mean outsourcing different tasks to stay sane – whether it’s buying ready meals or hiring someone to help with cleaning. Joining a “moms club” that includes play dates for kids and the chance to share a glass of wine with other moms has also helped.

“Difficult to prioritize”

“It’s hard to prioritize being a mom and working, especially when you’re on Zoom 98% of your day and your child is sick at home, and she’s freaking out,” said Melissa Schaus, director. principal – logistics, distribution and compliance at Sephora Canada.

“Find those times of day for yourself,” she told the crowd. “Be intentional about setting aside this time in your routine.”

Mathiesen agreed, “You want to give yourself permission to do things that work for you, whether it’s racing or working out.”

Panelists also highlighted the need to blaze your own trail to get ahead in business.

It can be difficult to assign a task to someone else, but a narrow scope establishes deeper expertise, Schaus said. “Just because you have to give up something you were doing doesn’t mean you fail.”

Find, train, support

“We can’t move on to bigger and better things until we find, train and support the people around us,” Mathiesen said, referring to the need to document tasks and train others. team members to get the job done. “By doing this, you are showing leadership.”

Schaus also recommended displaying more confidence when seated at a male-dominated meeting table.

“We have an equal seat at this table,” she said. “How can you find that confidence when we apologize for the space we’re taking – so we don’t say something like, ‘Can I ask a silly question? “And that confidence comes from becoming an expert in the subject matter.

“You’ll find you’re also respected and you can kind of move on from there and build on that,” she said.

“It’s an industry that makes room for you. It’s an industry that the more you give, the more you get,” Crisan said.

The challenge she sees for other fleets, however, is finding ways to engage the women who join the teams.

“Once you attract [women], what are you doing to remember? How do you make sure women succeed,” she said.

“It’s not just about making sure she’s invited into the meeting room…It’s about making sure that every time she speaks, she’s not interrupted. And if it is, what do you do with it?