Transportation and logistics have historically been male-dominated industries. However, to capitalize on rapid technology advancements and tackle a historically high driver shortage, companies are looking to attract more women into supply chain management. As we spotlight women in logistics this week, we sat down with Jenyce Houg of Houg Logistics and Transportation to learn about her story, how the industry is changing, and why women are so important to the future of transportation.
What got you into logistics?
I think most people don’t just choose a career in logistics and supply chain. I was a high school junior. My father owned an air freight company in Colorado and would fly freight out to the Western Slope. He said, “Why don’t you come work for me and my partner doing billing, filing railroad paperwork, and learn the ropes.” We did a lot of intermodal rail business back then. My friends jetted off to universities and I had already worked two years making pretty good money, so I decided to stay in Colorado and get my degree locally.
What is the most interesting aspect of your job?
I’ve been in it for 29 years. There are so many facets to logistics and supply chain. There are so many opportunities and different arenas you can go into. Whether it’s operations, human resources, driving a truck, or being an analyst, there’s an array of different types of job opportunities. My dad and I started a local transportation company which evolved into over-the-road trucking and warehousing. I was able to touch every sector over my career inside the industry and I think that’s what I ended up loving about it. Not only did I love the drivers and what they do, but we’re seeing that today it’s really tough to be a driver. I have such respect for what they do. Everything about the industry is fascinating, it’s like putting a puzzle together all the time because it moves so fast.
The logistics industry is traditionally male-dominated. How has being a woman in logistics given you a different perspective into the industry?
It was probably really good that my father brought me up in the industry. I learned how to not take things personally, and you had to be that way. I had a lot of respect and would listen, especially at a roundtable. I made sure when I spoke that I was very firm about what I was speaking about and I knew the subject, because as a woman you’re always tested. I would really make sure I had the facts and I knew what I was talking about. When I did, they took me seriously.
What I tell young women coming up in this industry is that you can’t be afraid to get dirty. One of the things I always did is take road trips with my female drivers. I’d go down and work in the warehouse. To be in this industry and to really understand it, you have to get in on the ground floor. Walk the rail, walk the warehouse, go with the driver, understand what the issues are because that knowledge is just incredible to have. I don’t care if you go into the technology side, analytical side, operations side – when you know the ground floor and what the people do on a day-to-day basis in the trenches, that’s the key to success.
How do you think women drivers/workers are impacting the industry?
I think the statistics now say it’s about 7% women truck drivers, which is rising. With technology rapidly advancing and the equipment becoming more user-friendly, it benefits all drivers, especially women. Down the road I don’t think it’s going to be driver-less, I think it’s going to be driver-assist with the autonomous trucks coming into the market. I think you’ll see more women enter the industry, whether it be on the ground or managing the truck, because of equipment changes.
What’s your advice for someone interested in a career in logistics?
With the rapid development in advanced technologies in the industry, I think that it’s going to reduce the barrier to get in, especially for women, because there’s such opportunities in the market for key roles in technology. I’m really encouraging people when we present at events to consider a career in transportation. There’s a big event called Operation Stimulus that includes about 20 schools and universities that compete in logistics for scholarships. We promote that here in Colorado to really try to encourage college students to get into logistics. There are so many key roles and opportunities right now. Hiring more women also is critical to solving the truck driver shortage. I’m reading about how companies are making concerted efforts to increase female staff to provide the needed perspective to better recruit women into truck driving jobs, which is really important.
How do you think FreightRover’s technology helps with this?
I can’t say that anyone is ahead of their time anymore, because now we all see technology as sort of a horse race. It’s very difficult for people out in the huge ocean of supply chain to really pick good technology. What I love about FreightRover is that it applies to all, big and small. I love that FreightRover’s CarrierHQ offers my independent drivers quick, easy, friendly tools like Occ/Acc insurance. Drivers want to be on the road and having this tool on their mobile device that’s easy to update is ideal. The quick pay through PayEngine also is great for drivers. That’s what I love about FreightRover – the engines, the tools make it seamless and user-friendly. That’s why Houg Transportation and Resources joined up with FreightRover. The CarrierHQ tools and PayEngine quick pay is perfect for our independent contractors. They love it. They absolutely love it.
How are women in logistics changing the industry?
What I love about women working in a male-dominated industry is that we all know we’re different. Men and women are completely different. When you embrace differences and diversity it makes companies successful because we challenge each other. It makes teams more productive, more competitive, more confident with both genders working together. I think that’s why more women will be promoted within our industry as well.
Ecommerce and the internet have just absolutely changed the way the supply chain network operates. I think that’s why there’s going to be so many great positions that continue to open to so many more people.