Author: Jacquelene Brotherton
As a child I lived a nomadic life because of my father’s job, however as soon as I was old enough to go to school my older sister and myself were sent to boarding school to be educated by the nuns. My parents believed that we should have the best education that was available to us. By the time my younger siblings were school age, we had settled close to town and were able to attend school as day pupils. I graduated my primary school as Dux of the school and then attended the local high school. It was while attending the local high school that my parents purchased a business supplying the trucking industry.
This is where my career really began, I worked part time in the business while attending school and when I finished high school I started working at a bank, while still working for my parents. After leaving the bank I worked in a fresh produce distribution centre and continued working for my parents. I then worked for my parents’ full time for a couple of years before leaving permanently to join the trucking industry full time.
I went to work for livestock transport company in administration; over the next 17 years I took on various roles within the company, in operations, accounting, before moving up to general manager and director. During this time, I also studied accounting, served on the committee, and functioned as the secretariat and conference organiser for the Livestock Transporters Association of NSW. I was rewarded by this association in 1998 by being awarded Life Membership. I also worked part time for two fashion boutiques and modelled in their fashion shows to have variety in my life away from the trucking industry. I also found time to get married, to fulfil my passion for reading and to look after my pets.
After the breakdown of my marriage, I worked in various roles across the eastern states of Australia at large and small trucking companies, at a feedlot and at a Kenworth dealership in the spare parts department.
It was after I moved to Melbourne for the second time in 2005 and then commenced work for Oxford Cold Storage in 2007 that I had the time and encouragement to pursue my dream of advocating for my industry.
I became Chair of the Refrigerated Warehouse and Transport Association transport subcommittee in 2009 to write the Chain of Responsibility Code of Practice for the Association. I also served on the Wyndham Industrial Liaison and Development Committee (WILD), a business lobbying group for my local area that had been lobbying for many years to have a dangerous local road upgraded. I eventually became Chair of this group, and with the help of our local council, was able to lobby the government for $53 million funding and had the road upgraded after a 20-year campaign.
I joined the board of Transport Women Australia Limited (TWAL) in 2008 and served as Chair from 2009 to 2011 returning for a second term in November 2017. It has been as Chair of Transport Women Australia Limited that I have been able to make the most impact on changing the industry, especially with diversity and inclusion.
In 2018 we launched a joint venture with the Wodonga TAFE (Technical and Further Educational) and Volvo Group Australia for a Female Only Driver licencing course, called the Women Driving Transport Careers initiative. This enables women to get their driving licence and further instruction in load restraint, rules and regulations, timesheets, and other necessary duties so they enter the industry professionally trained and fully employed at the end of the course.
We also held our successful triennial conference which led to our current mentoring programme called the Creating Connections mentoring programme. Both programmes have been successful although COVID-19 has had an impact on the Women Driving Transport Careers initiative. 2018 also saw the consolidation of our relationship with Girl Guides Australia through various initiatives but especially through the International Jamboree held in Sydney when with the help of transport companies throughout Australia, we were able to distribute the Jamboree bag around Australia; we were also able to attend the Jamboree with a new Mercedes Benz truck, compliments of Daimler Truck and Bus, to introduce trucking to 1500 Girl Guides who attended the Jamboree. This was amazing experience and exchange of knowledge for the those in attendance and enjoyable one for both organisations.
During 2018, I was recognised for my work by being honoured at the Women in Industry Awards by winning the Excellence in Road Transport Award and again with the Inaugural Female Leadership in Transport Award at the prestigious Australian Freight Industry Awards.
In 2019 we launched our Learning Initiatives Breakfasts Series and celebrated the TWAL 20-year anniversary with a gala dinner for two hundred people, established the Trish Pickering Memorial Award for the outstanding contribution to the transport industry over a prolonged period by a woman. This was made possible with the support of our wonderful sponsor, Wes Pickering in memory of his late wife.
However, my proudest moment was to establish with Daimler Truck and Bus Australia Pacific, a scholarship programme called Driving the Difference. The scholarships are available for women in or wishing to enter the transport and logistics industry. These scholarships are awarded each year to women who want to advance their careers or to seek certification to enter the transport and logistics industry.
In 2019, I was awarded the Businessperson of the Year by Wyndham City Council for my work in the local business community, especially for the local transport industry and my lobbying as Chair of the WILD committee.
One new project we have just commenced with Inspiring Women Australia is participating in career days and expos to talk about the trucking industry; to highlight amazing opportunities to young women in years 10 through 12, listening to the students, many of them have thought of careers in construction and other trades such as electricians, engineering but not one I have spoken to had considered transport, to my disappointment. However, they did have big dreams and I can only encourage anyone to follow their dreams.
We are also launching a second phase of our research – Women Working in Transport: Part II. This will commence in November 2021.
I have also been able to travel overseas to investigate new safety practices, to speak at conferences both in Australia and internationally about subjects so diverse as harassment in the workplace, chain of responsibility, diversity and inclusion, and automated guarded vehicles to name just some of the topics, I have covered. I have attended truck shows in the United States and we take the TWAL message to truck shows in regional areas of Australia.
I been involved in committees for the Global Cold Chain in Washington, DC and participated in the Sanitary Transportation of Food Taskforce and the preparation of the Public Refrigerated Warehouse Hazard Assessment Checklist.
In 2021, I hosted a show on Import Export TV called the Driving the Difference Show for six episodes, then because of name conflict, I have embarked on my second TV show on Import Export TV, called Talking Transport. I also write a fortnightly column for Big Rigs Newspaper, and all this became possible because of a love of trucks.
I came from a tiny town in outback Australia and yet I have had an amazing life and career and I tell my story often to inspire women and girls to dream big, they can do anything their heart desires.
I have achieved this because I have had incredible bosses and mentors, the support of family and friends who believed in me, I have worked extremely hard to achieve in an industry that I love and with the Grace of God and a modicum of luck, I have been able to have a successful career and contribute to the success of others.
It is important to know you are not alone and to find a mentor and if possible, a sponsor within your company or industry association who will support your career advancement, you do not have to do it on your own BUT YOU CAN!