– By Caroline Falls –
Bex Gazzola, a Melbourne-based delivery driver for Ontime Delivery Solutions, has stepped up as an advocate for women in the transport industry, saying all the women delivery and truck drivers she knows love the work.
She has two daughters, also driving for Ontime, a national delivery run management group with more than 600 owner drivers. And she has female friends driving for Ontime, Australia Post’s Startrak, and for transport group Toll.
“It’s a good job for work-life balance,” said Gazzola, adding, “If you’ve got kids, you can get shifts that’ll fit in with school time. I’ve never actually had an emergency where I’ve had to take off for the day. But if there is an issue that does come up, all you do is just give them (Ontime) a call and you can have a day or two to just sort it out.”
Ontime specialise in permanent set runs for customers, recruiting drivers and matching them up with clients, many of them automotive related businesses. Among others are clients the hospitality or packaging industries.
Gazzola does deliveries for NAPA Auto Parts, out of its Heidelberg warehouse, an industrial commercial residential mixed suburb about half an hour’s drive north east of the city centre. She delivers parts to mechanics, body shops, bus companies and fleet workshops using her white diesel-powered Ford Ltd ute.
“It’s big and It’s just a very nice car to drive,” said Gazzola, adding she loves driving around listening to podcasts and music. “I really enjoy the solitude. I do my run, I listen to podcasts, my life is stress free.”
It trumps earlier jobs — working in customer service at a big newspaper group, and as a haridresser. “I think this is the best job I’ve ever had.” Gazzola has worked for Ontime for four years. She also previously worked as a driver for a food service group. She said Ontime do a really good job matching drivers with clients. “Ontime is a really supportive environment. I also really love working with NAPA. The people there are fabulous and their customers (who she is delivering to) are great too.”
We talked about the small proportion of women in transport roles. I told Bex I’d read earlier this year a Women in Transport report by recruitment group Randstad that showed women make up less than one-fifth of the transport workforce in Australia.
“I think what probably is a deterrent for women who aren’t in it and don’t know what it’s like, is the perception of what it’s like,” said Gazzola. “I’ve had no bad experiences at all during this job. Every customer has been great. The people that I’ve worked for have been great. It’s a respectful environment. People get that you can’t behave like they did two, three or even five years ago. It’s very different now to what it used to be like.”
Gazzola’s testimony rang true to what Randstad’s Lauren Bourke, national transport manager, told me for an earlier FAN article. “My perception about the transport industry turned out to be completely wrong.”
Gazzola said opportunities for women as drivers have opened up even more the last couple of years as a COVID-led burst in home deliveries has exacerbated a shortage of workers in the industry.
Meanwhile, COVID may also have helped shine a positive light on driving as a career for women. Drivers’ heroic efforts in keeping locked-down households supplied during COVID may well have changed attitudes, Randstad said in its report. “It’s vital for the industry to build on this, especially among the many women our Randstad Employer Brand Research shows are looking for meaning in their careers.”
— Caroline Falls is a freelance writer. She has been contributing to Fleet Auto News for more than five years. She can be contacted at email@example.com.