As today is International Women’s Day, we took the opportunity to catch up with one of Courier Exchange’s top-performing female van owner drivers in celebration of this movement for women’s rights.
We’re shining the spotlight on owner driver and director of Courier Hire & Reward Ltd, Sonia Johal.
International Women’s Day has been taking place on March 8th since 1911 and this year’s theme, #EachforEqual, promotes the individual actions we can take to challenge bias and prejudice but also celebrate the achievements of women. It is for this exact reason that Sonia was chosen for this interview. She represents and supports female empowerment in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Sonia wants to let other women know that they too have opportunities in logistics and shouldn’t feel intimidated or burdened by patriarchal ideologies.
Sonia’s story marks the return of our ‘Transport Heroes’ series in which we interview a variety of owner drivers, hauliers and freight forwarders on what makes them successful on the Exchange. Each member’s story is unique, and our aim is to shine the spotlight on their successes, challenges and any wisdom they’d like to share for inspiring and motivating existing members.
With over 130 positive delivery feedbacks, Sonia Johal’s business ‘Courier Hire & Reward’ has gone from strength to strength, by using CX’s vast network of vetted logistics professionals to her advantage.
Sonia, on the other hand, had no reservations about entering into a male-dominated profession. She loved the personal freedom the job afforded her and eventually decided to start her own business.
I find the industry warm and welcoming. People are kind and were eager to share best practices when I first started. Plus, as long-distance couriers, people are mostly on their own, except for loading and offloading.
Despite the appeal to be her own boss, Sonia recognises that the job isn’t for everyone. She continues, “I don’t think everyone can do it. It requires a lot of concentration over long periods with irregular work hours. Fitness levels, sleep patterns and vehicle maintenance are major factors of success in this business”.
Although not directly experiencing any issues relating to her gender while on the job, it’s not uncommon amongst other women working in logistics. Sonia offered her thoughts on the lack of female owner drivers, suggesting it may be due to the pressures of gender expectations, perceiving driving larger vehicles as daunting and the lack of encouragement and support stemming from this.
When asked about her daily activities, she responded, “My days vary. Energy levels are a factor, as I work 24/7. I’m lucky as I find it easy to sleep, so I can ensure I’m well-rested between deliveries. I have a routine that I follow. Once I finish a delivery, I fill up with diesel, AdBlue, Screen Wash and then get some rest until I’m ready to go. I always turn on my CX notifications, so I can get a head start on quoting for loads while enjoying a coffee”.
Since joining CX, Sonia has already completed over 170 loads, including several direct bookings. Sonia describes how the CX platform streamlines business for its members, with its integrated features and solutions contributing to efficiency and profitability.
‘Friendly, eager, professional and superb’ are just some of the words that members have used to describe Sonia. Her stellar feedback points to her willingness to go above and beyond. Sonia humbly attributes her positive feedback to following customer instructions very carefully and always doing her job ‘with a smile’.
The digital platform and mobile app are very user-friendly. I handle the majority of my work through CX, with very few exceptions. I even use the accounting software to process non-CX-related work. Even my accountant uses the platform for my VAT returns.
As a result of her strong reputation as an owner driver on the Exchange, Sonia has now established successful business relationships with big clients like UPS, FedEx and Hermes, across her 25 years of experience driving vans and larger vehicles like minibusses and trucks.
She’s taken the initiative to gain more qualifications and is currently working to achieve her Dangerous Goods Safety Advisers (DGSA), ADR and Level A / B Aviation. Not every owner driver has these certifications, which is another good example of Sonia’s tremendous dedication to growing her business and expanding her horizons. Another interesting fact about Sonia is that she’s also a chemistry graduate, which she considers as having helped her to pass her ADR exam.
Biased beliefs are not a true reflection of reality. Women are excellent professional drivers, but many are still misrepresented and made to feel like they don’t belong in this profession.
When asked to share some practical words of wisdom for women interested in the industry, she said, “Make sure you train in advance of investing any money into a van. Try driving long distances in the size of the vehicle you will be driving for at least a week, to get a feel of your ability and how to manage your delivery schedule.”
Sonia is a true testament to the opportunities available to women in logistics. They simply need to reach out and grab it with both hands.
From all of us here at the Exchange, we wish all the women operating on our Exchange a happy International Women’s Day!
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