The resources boom has stimulated economic growth in many areas of Australia. It has also created a rapid increase in business for the heavy haulage game, with the industry sector looking to expand its workforce quickly. It would seem many of these opportunities have been grasped by a group who often miss out in trucking, women.
Transport companies associated with the mining industry have been more open minded than those in sectors like linehaul. As a result the number of women involved is growing as they find a place in the trucking industry. They are working both in the driving seat and as part of management in transport companies.
As a National Projects Manager for Heavy Haulage Australia, Tracie Kachel forms part of the senior management team and is in charge of up to 120 men. This mother of two has forged a successful career in the transport sector to hold a senior management position with one of Australia’s largest heavy haulage providers.
Meanwhile, out in the Pilbara, it has been estimated 15 per cent of the truck driving workforce are women. Nationally, less than five per cent of the 558,000 licensed truck drivers are female, but in an area crying out for drivers a large number of pioneering women have been able to establish themselves.
One of these, Heather Jones, has been involved in the industry for twenty years, having lobbied companies to take on more drivers and training many of those women now getting involved in the resources industry as truck drivers.
Like Jones, Kachel also comes from a family background involved in the trucking industry. Her foster father drove road trains for a living.
“I began my career working at a transport company where I was fulfilling all the responsibilities of a branch manager, but I was overlooked for promotion because of my gender,” said Kachel said. “But as my career progressed, I began to be recognised for my knowledge and capabilities. This allowed me to travel the country and eventually secure my current role at Heavy Haulage Australia.
“The truck drivers may come across as a bit ‘rough and tough’ but they know I have the industry experience and their best interests at heart so they always treat me with utmost respect.”
Kachel is also a board member of the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA), putting back into an industry which has allowed her to thrive.
Perhaps the rest of the trucking industry could take a look at what heavy haulage is doing, tapping into a previously marginalised group as a source for the future drivers and managers of our industry.