CEO and Truck Driver
Female truckies are a growing force in Australia and if you’ve never considered driving as a career, it’s time to get on board. Lyndal made a late career change and she’s now a proud road train driver. Her adventures have taken her through Western Australia, South Australia, NSW, Victoria and across the top end, through wet season flood waters and fires, transporting everything from cornflakes to oversized mining infrastructure.
What do you do every day for work?
I’m a road train driver and CEO of Women in Trucking Australia.
I have two very distinct roles each day. Mornings, I put on my Women in Trucking Australia CEO hat – then each afternoon – on go the steel-cap boots, high vis gear and truck driver hat in readiness for a 10 hour shift driving road trains. As CEO, I work in a white-collar environment managing the overall operations and resources of WiTA. As a truck driver – pulling three trailers – I transport South Australia’s finest produce from the farm gate to the Adelaide harbour for export. Mornings I’m covered with hand cream and perfume and afternoons I’m covered in diesel, dust and grease!
Did you know what you wanted to do when you were at school?
I love animals and my sights were firmly set on becoming a vet.
How did you get started?
As happens, the best laid plans can change and I began my work-life as a receptionist at Channel 9. From there I moved into newspaper advertising and sales management, followed by a number of years running a country hotel. Finally I enjoyed a ten-year stint managing a number of sites across northern NSW as a provider of Australian government employment services. This work involved a lot of travel on the Pacific Highway and it was there driving amongst the endless parade of interstate freighters that the seed of an idea was planted. I transitioned from my cruisy life filled with coffee shops, boutiques and beauty salons, to the harsh top end of Australia – driving trucks in the dust and heat of the biggest mining boom in the nation’s history.
What do you love most about what you do?
I absolutely love the freedom of the open road, the hours spent alone in my truck singing, listening to podcasts and enjoying the endless changing landscapes and sunrises and sunsets. I also spend much of my driving time contemplating how best Women in Trucking Aust can a) encourage more women into driving careers and b) work with the industry to minimise the gender bias that sees so many incredible female drivers overlooked in favour of their male counterparts during recruitment.
What makes you feel confident at work?
In my pre-trucking days, my mechanical ability was stretched to its limits when I had to put staples in a stapler. Seven years into my trucking career, I can turn my hand to most things mechanical. Working remotely and alone (think 90kms into the desert near Marble Bar) in stifling heat, I am no longer the pampered, stiletto wearing delicate soul I used to be. These days I’m a resilient, competent, confident female truckie. My message to anyone seeking to create problems in my world is the same message as that of my female colleagues “Never mistake our kindness for weakness!”
What are you afraid of and how do you cope with that?
I have done a lot of study in my life, but trucking has been THE most difficult thing I’ve had to learn. There were moments in the early days of my career when I was certain I’d die from anxiety – because of the complexities of the work I had to do. But I soon learned though that crying didn’t help and because I was usually working alone, I quickly realised the only person I could rely on was me!! I still remember the enormous trepidation I felt when my boss asked me to hook up a triple road train for the first time. Rather than looking at the entire project, I chunked it down to a step by step scenario and completed each task before I moved on to the next. Gone were thoughts of weekend BBQs, what to make for dinner or which friends were doing what. It was just me, the flies, heat and dust and the task at hand. These days, if there is a job to be done, I no longer procrastinate My trucking experience has taught me to just get in and get it done.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
I am enormously proud that somewhere deep inside, I found the guts and determination to transition from a world of softly lit, carpeted office interiors to driving some of the biggest on-road vehicles in the world across the harsh, remote outback terrain of Australia’s top end. The highlight of my career was driving a 54m quad road train – the length of 11 average sized family cars from the Pilbara up into the Kimberley.
Who helped you get to where you are today?
So many people…but in particular, most of my skills as a driver were developed because of the generosity of the truckies I worked with. They took the time to explain, demonstrate and answer the seemingly endless stream of questions I’d send their way.
Do you have any advice for thinking about a career in your industry?
My advice for any female thinking about a career in trucking is to closely examine your inner strengths. Are you resilient? Is political correctness an important part of your life? Are you able to step over negative comments? Are you comfortable being out in all weather conditions? Are you good being covered in grease and dust? Are you comfortable working in the rough and tumble of a male environment? Do you have a sense of humour? Truckies are an extremely close-knit group and despite my rocky introduction to the industry, overwhelmingly, I have to say I’ve been warmly welcomed into a vocation where hard work and humour form the backbone of a colourful body of work. There are untold opportunities for newly-licensed female drivers. “If I can do it – any female can!”
What are your thoughts about the future of work in your industry?
As a major economic driver, the Australian road transport sector has continued to operate through the COVID19 pandemic and the associated economic fallout. Professional truck drivers are highly sought after and as Australia’s population increases, so will the need for freight and for skilled, competent drivers. There’s been a major cultural shift from within the sector and recruiters now recognise females as the vital untapped resource we are. Female drivers are streets ahead of the “boys” in terms of safe driving. Women are risk averse and less likely to engage in aggressive and or dangerous driving. Women take greater care of equipment and engage more readily in professional development opportunities. Personal grooming and sweating the small stuff are also vital traits women bring to the vocation. Women in Trucking Australia is set to become the nation’s peak body for Australian female heavy vehicle drivers. Our goal is to achieve gender balance by 2035. If I can do it, any female can.
In your wildest dreams, what would you love to do and get paid for it?
I didn’t recognise it in my younger days, but truck driving really is my dream job! What other vocation affords you the luxury of an all-expenses paid tour of Australia meeting incredible people and visiting incredible places! I remember my grade 4 teacher telling me I would never get paid to stare out the window. She couldn’t have been more wrong!!