Logistics is an area where equality is improving rapidly, especially in the crucial role of HGV Driver. As an industry that is in the midst of a nationwide driver shortage there has been no better time for more women to take the wheel and choose a career on the open road.
The attributes of HGV Drivers are varied and the role itself more demanding than 10 years ago. A Sense of Responsibility – Alertness - An Ability to Work Independently - An Impeccable Driving Record - Customer Service Skills - Knowledge of Truck Mechanics - Maintenance Skills - Physical Stamina - Stress Management Skills – and Time Keeping are all key skills to being a successful driver on the busy UK highways.
Culina Group is an organisation that has enjoyed tremendous growth since entering the UK marketplace in 1994 and now has a turnover approaching £600 million. The food and drink logistics specialist has over 60 sites across the UK and Ireland and operates a fleet of more than 1000 trucks. To ensure that our vehicles reach their designated delivery locations on time we require the best drivers in the business. Culina Group are hiring nationwide and embracing the recruitment of female drivers into our winning team. Today the title of ‘HGV Driver’ is now a universal one with more and more women joining the profession.
Vicki Collins and Rebecca King are two superb examples of women succeeding brilliantly in this once ‘male dominated’ profession. We sat down with them to find out what they enjoyed most about being an HGV Driver and working for Culina Group.
Vicki Collins is based at Culina Bristol; she took her Class 1 HGV licence in 1991 and is now in her 27th year as a professional driver, 12 of those with Culina Logistics. Vicki says that she was not content with a job working indoors. She wanted to be out of the office and on the open road. She knew she had what it took to do the job and so that’s exactly what she did.
“I passed my Class 1 in 1991 with a previous company. My father played a part in my decision to take my Class 1 in the first place. He was a lorry driver many years ago and backed me all the way when getting my licence. I’ll never forget his face when I got home the day I passed my test, he was really proud.”
Being an HGV driver is a challenging role, meeting deadlines, dealing with road and traffic conditions, it’s an on-going test of resilience and mental adaptability. No two days are the same.
“Since I began driving the day to day challenges have remained the same. We all have those days where weather and traffic conditions can test one’s ability or resources. Then on the other hand there are days when it all ‘goes to plan’. Your mind-set has to be to ‘take the rough with the smooth’ in this job.”
Vicki and the other Drivers leave the Culina Logistics depot in Bristol each shift with their manifest for the days’ deliveries and collections. Operating with the latest vehicle tracking technology the transport staff can track loads at any given time, and as long as the Drivers call in to keep the Transport Team updated, they are trusted to get the job done. For Vicki, becoming an HGV Driver was a natural career choice, as it allows her to be on the open road whilst feeling like she is her own boss.
“I really enjoy being part of the Bristol team”, Said Vicki. “Pretty much all of our regular customers and contracts get used to seeing familiar drivers, you build up a rapport with them. When any concerns may arise, they appreciate it if you can ‘call base’ and sort it there and then... it helps your shift run smoothly whilst strengthening relationships. I enjoy interaction with our customers, plus, here at Culina Logistics I have the good fortune of working alongside great colleagues, who are helpful, patient, and always on hand to lend their expertise”
Vicki enjoys telling others about her job, “I have spoken with many people about what I do” said Vicki, “I tell them that haulage is not a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday career. It is a demanding job, the hours can be long and being a food and drink logistics operator, contractual deadlines have to be met 24/7. Flexibility is expected, but it works both ways.”
Whether you are Male or Female, the role of HGV Driver is a constantly evolving career, literally non-stop in many ways with changing legislation, improving fleet equipment and the progression of logistics technology.
“To anyone thinking about earning their licence, it’s not just about the driving; you can learn a lot more and after twenty-seven years I am still learning,” Said Vicki, “The company will always keep us updated on new rules and regulations that affect HGV Drivers, and our fleet is modern and complies fully with current legislation. Training days are provided so we are always developing individually and as a team. There are also opportunities to go further in the career if you wish, you can become a Driver Trainer, Driving Assessor, Coordinator or Planner.”
Vicki, one of an increasing numbers of women throughout the UK today that are proving beyond all doubt that being an HGV driver is a really great career choice.
“In the earlier days I did experience some resistance to being a woman in the industry, but that didn’t phase me whatsoever,” said Vicki, “Times have changed and now I see more women than ever in the role!” Working alongside Vicki at Culina Logistics in Bristol is Rebecca King. A newer addition to the Bristol HGV Driver Team, she gives her own perspective on this exciting career opportunity.
“I’d had thoughts of becoming a Driver for a while, but never acted on the idea,” said Rebecca, “I would tell myself that there is no way I could drive a HGV but this was only because I’d never seen a female driver. Looking back now, that’s because I wasn’t really looking, there are thousands of women driving HGV’s!”
“I’m not exactly sure what made me want to become a driver? After completing my A-levels I didn’t know what I wanted to do in terms of a career. I went to college to learn beauty therapy. I completed the first year but realised I was not enjoying it. I hadn’t yet told anybody about my thoughts on driving for a living; I had kept them to myself. But as I was leaving the college on the last day, my tutor told me to do something different, something that I enjoy. He said maybe you should go and be a lorry driver. That was my mind made up! It reaffirmed the fact that others had faith in me to do a job like that. So, I booked my training a month later and here I am today!”
Rebecca has held her licence for nearly 6 years, she achieved her Class 2 at 19 years old, and Class 1 the following year and has been with Culina Logistics now for nearly 5 years. Her first driving job was in Bristol with a family run company, doing multi-drop’s around Bristol city centre and further afield. She believes this job gave her best start to her career.
“I love working for Culina Logistics,” said Rebecca, “Being part of a bigger company gives me much more security. You’ll never get asked to take a truck out that has a bald spot on the tyre and never get asked to go over your driving time to make a delivery. Culina Logistics respect the fact that it is the drivers themselves who will get the points or a fine if the authorities were to find anything wrong with a truck or trailer. Plus we have an excellent rating with the DVSA which means we have a well-maintained fleet that is fully compliant with road safety laws.”
“My favourite part of the job is the freedom. We can choose the route which we feel will be fastest or most likely to avoid the major traffic areas. We get to see beautiful parts of the country that we wouldn’t see if we were behind a desk, meet lovely people and all with a company behind us that appreciates the work we do and treats us well.”
“The advice I’d give to anyone looking at joining the industry would be to JUST DO IT! It’s a great job and within the right company you can really thrive and better your knowledge of the industry. If you get a year into it and decide it’s really not your cup of tea then you can find something else, but along as you keep your CPC training up to date you can always come back to it.”
More and more women are seeing a career as an HGV Driver as a valid option for them. If you have good time management, want to meet new people and explore the country then HGV Driver might just be the career path for you!
If you have the drive and want to make a positive difference in the logistics industry why not join Culina Groups winning team. You can view all of our current vacancies at www.culinacareers.co.uk.