I’ve been blessed with mentors throughout my career, most notably my parents. My mother, who was widowed at 40 with no previous career, began a business and ran it successfully for 20 years and put her three children through college. My father, who was a trained mechanic, decided to pursue accounting and went back to college in his late 30s. He worked hard and climbed the ranks at the company where he was employed.
In fact, my father was instrumental in shaping my career interests. As the first-born and only daughter, I was exposed to maintenance at an early age. My father wanted me to be self-reliant and taught me many things, such as how to do oil changes and tune-ups and the importance of keeping things dependable. When he went back to school, I spent countless hours working with him on budgets and forecasts. Math was my forte and that paved the way to majoring in accounting at college.
My career at Ryder has incorporated both my knowledge of maintenance and my knack for numbers. I have responsibility for all maintenance operations, training, R&D, engineering, continuous improvement, and our internal technical publications.
It hasn’t always been easy being a woman in a male-dominated field. However, I’ve always had wonderful mentors who naturally are mostly men. When I first started at Ryder as a trainee, I was recognized for my ability with computers and asked to train others on using the new advanced systems in our shops. Later, when I became district controller, my boss challenged me to take on other areas of the business, including sales. I learned many aspects of our business and how to relate well to customers.
As new opportunities have been presented to me at Ryder, my family and I have had to move several times. I’m very fortunate to have a spouse who has always supported me. My husband, Eugene, has been a key contributor to our success. He has encouraged me to pursue my dreams, while he has been at my side raising our three children.
My advice to women wanting to advance is don’t be afraid to excel and be heard. Identify who can help you and learn from them. Also, allow yourself to be a woman. Too often women fail because they try to be one of the guys. Believe in what you have to contribute and be yourself.