At Vision 24 – The Motive Innovation Summit, women leaders showed how they’re pushing boundaries, breaking barriers, and fueling change.

Across the physical economy, workers are busy taking to the road, building high-rises, and drilling for oil. Most often they’re men, but with each passing year, more women are joining the ranks. Women in construction have jumped 53% in the last decade. About 1.3 million of them are employed today, accounting for 10.9% of the construction workforce. In trucking and logistics, women are continuing a slow, steady climb as well, making up 12% of the workforce

As women take on more impactful roles, the industrial world is in the midst of a renaissance, one that was on full display at Vision 24, the inaugural Motive Innovation Summit. Leaders like Christine Estes, Clarissa Rankin, and Kate Woeffler shined in the spotlight. 

At a time when industries are working to become more diverse, the Driving Women Forward panel, led by Motive Head of Customer Marketing, Jeanne Nitschke, attracted a strong showing of allies and supporters as much as women.

The Driving Women Forward Breakfast at Vision 24 in Nashville, TN.

Women’s empowerment starts with a vision for success

For Estes, director of safety and recruiting at Usher Transport, working in the transportation industry is a family legacy. As the daughter of a truck driver, she was drawn to transportation from the start. 

“My passion for the industry started in the passenger seat of my dad’s truck,” she says. “Taking trips with him as a kid, seeing the impact that professional drivers have on their communities, that’s what inspired me to get into this industry.”

As Usher Transport’s first female safety director, Estes has made an impact, earning Employee of the Year honors. But her work is just beginning. 

“I don’t think the discussion should stop here. Seeing women in leadership roles should resonate across the industry. Because change is needed.”

— Christine Estes, director of safety and recruiting, Usher Transport

On the road and online, Rankin is carving her own path. As an experienced driver with nearly 3 million social media followers, she’s in a league of her own. Fresh out of CDL school, she set her sights on being the safest driver possible, then put in the work to make it happen. “Starting out, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to become great at this. I’m going to be the number one driver in the world.’” 

As the owner of a CDL trucking school herself, Rankin is well on her way. But don’t be fooled by her long lashes and painted nails. When she arrives at the shipper, she’s all business. Even with millions of followers, she knows her big personality hasn’t won over everyone. And she doesn’t care. 

“When I first joined the industry, I couldn’t find a job. I got turned down six different times. But then I went in there with my girly hair, long nails, and big personality, and that’s what got me the job. So I always remember to be myself. If people are going to accept me in this industry, they have to accept me for who I am.”

— Clarissa Rankin

Mentorship matters

With women in the minority in physical jobs, it’s crucial that they uplift and mentor each other, says Woelffer, a leader in Motive’s Enterprise sales organization. As vice president of sales for strategic accounts, Woelffer works to impact the world around her in an incremental way, urging others to do the same.

“You don’t have to be a career advocate to be an advocate for others in your daily life,” she says. “If we all look to move the needle by 1%, it can make a big difference, whether you’re hiring, recruiting, or promoting through the ranks.”

Rankin feels a responsibility to support other women, whether they’re new to driving or already established. 

“Always remember to be the mentor and the mentee,” she says. “On one hand, I’m a leader, a nurturer, a protector. I share positive energy, because energy is contagious. On the other hand, I’m always open to learning, to being encouraged, to trying new things.”

Together we thrive

For true progress to happen, it will take the support of male allies as much as women. Dialogue is the key to progress, Estes says. 

“If you can find common ground through conversation and ask the right questions, opportunities will come to you,” she tells other women. “So break down barriers and progress into whatever you want to be. I think these things can happen. As an industry, we can grow together. It takes all of us, together.”

We want to hear from you and how you are the catalyst for change in your organization. If you feel comfortable sharing your story, tag @Motive-inc on LinkedIn and use #drivingwomenforward to keep the conversation moving forward with more empowering stories.