Thriving As A Woman In a Male-Dominated Industry: Brittany Traylor of Traylor Transpo On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman In a Male Dominated Industry

An Interview With Ming Zhao

Ming S. Zhao
Authority Magazine

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In the United States in 2022, fields such as Aircraft piloting, Agriculture, Architecture, Construction, Finance, and Information technology, are still male-dominated industries. For a woman who is working in a male-dominated environment, what exactly does it take to thrive and succeed? In this interview series, we are talking to successful women who work in a Male-Dominated Industry who can share their stories and experiences about navigating work and life as strong women in a male-dominated industry. As a part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Brittany Traylor.

Brittany Traylor is the founder and chief executive of the carrier firm TraylorTranspo. Traylor started her career as a truck driver in the oilfields, moving up the ladder to become a fleet owner. Through her business, Traylor looks to empower underrepresented minorities in the industry and help them reach their goals.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I grew up in Germany — born to a German mom and an American dad. Having lived through the foster care system, I faced the reality of limited opportunities. I wanted to make a difference, both personally and socially. Since I was young, I believed I could bring a level of change into the world and provide opportunity. I was always a big dreamer and thinker.

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

I have an uncle who moved to the States and joined the industry as a driver. He often spoke about moving to America and becoming a trucker as his passion. So when I watched him make good on his dreams, it struck of cord with me. He would send pictures of places he’d been, scenes and people so removed from my world that it lit a fire in me to pursue the same life. He always tried to convince me, and seeing those images seemed like freedom — a lifestyle in short supply where I grew up.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

As a driver, I used to be in the oilfield, and I met my good long-term friend, Sepia. We would be the only women out there in a highly male-dominated work environment — sometimes for days with men in one patch of desert miles away from civilization.

I was one of the main trucks that cooked and kept MRI food — essential to sustain, as we never knew when a well could break down and shut operations. Sometimes it would shut down for days. So, we would find ways to balance our lifestyles. We pulled up with our Peterbilt 379s and tanker trailers at the mall or an outlet. We parked next to each other for a day, called in sick, only to go shopping, getting a manicure and haircut. We even bought inline skates and skated around the truck parking lot for hours.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Empowering others is my mission within my company and my biggest priority. Kim is an example — she was the first agent I found, and she’s grown from dispatching her husband on the loadboard to now bringing in close to six figures after her first year in business. This is inspirational considering Kim comes from a minority background as well — with a traditional Indian Punjabi heritage.

At my core, I’d consider myself fearless, as I take everything head-on — working through uncomfortable conversations, making tough decisions, and implementing change without fearing failure. We recently went through a culture change that included a transition towards technology.

Grit. I’m willing to push through the many obstacles that present themselves, even if they seem insurmountable. I’ve had instances where staffing was problematic, and I had to devise real-time solutions to maintain my company’s reputation, even if it meant forsaking sleep to ensure my customers never noticed a difference in service levels. No matter how hard something looks, I know it’s temporary and is just another story I’ll tell someone about being resilient to attain success.

Adaptability. Reading the environment and moving to accommodate the demands of the market, region, and the world is crucial for success in any respect.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Can you help articulate a few of the biggest obstacles or challenges you’ve had to overcome while working in a male-dominated industry?

One of the challenges women face in any industry is proving we are capable and knowledgeable in our given field. It seems to particularly be the case with the trucking industry. As grateful as I am for life and the opportunities I’ve been afforded, it’s not without its challenges. I look to stay vigilant and update myself on the industry trends and technology, while actively being part of different organizations to gain perspectives about what’s on the horizon. This way, I can lend my voice to the conversation in a meaningful way. If you speak sense to people, they listen and learn to value your voice.

Can you share a few of the things you have done to gain acceptance among your male peers and the general work community? What did your female co-workers do? Can you share some stories or examples?

As I said before, being a resource for knowledge helps immensely, but communication is a significant factor. I like to speak plainly, set expectations right at the start, and be consistent in my message. I’m constantly checking in to ensure we are on the same page and deliver what we agree upon. It’s surprising the goodwill that can be received from following through with your work. When people see they can rely on you, you build great relationships based on trust and performance.

What do you think male-oriented organizations can do to enhance their recruiting efforts to attract more women?

More remote opportunities. I am currently involved in a hiring program that focuses on single parents, so they don’t have to choose between being a parent and a breadwinner. It’s the way of the world now and how the workplace is evolving. To attract the talent who will usher us forward, we must be willing to adapt and provide for people who would otherwise be left to the wayside, along with their innate dedication and capabilities. It’s an underutilized talent pool that we should be tapping. I know I am.

Ok thank you for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman In a Male-Dominated Industry?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Continues education, ensure your constantly learning and growing
  2. Don’t be afraid to show your skin in the game
  3. Look to network with people and build real connections in the business
  4. Create an authentic voice and own it
  5. Believe in yourself and do not take no for an answer

If you had a close woman friend who came to you with a choice of entering a field that is male-dominated or female-dominated, what would you advise her? Would you advise a woman friend to start a career in a field or industry that’s traditionally been mostly men? Can you explain what you mean?

There are greater considerations than just gender. Does the industry serve your ultimate goals and can you chart out a real timeline to accomplish them. I’m accustomed to being a minority in any room I enter — be it race or gender. But these differences do not determine of my success or anyone else’s. How much are you willing to give? How adaptable are you? How honed is your skillset? You go after what suits you because struggle will always be part of the game — if it isn’t gender, it may be finance or something else. Nothing is worth doing if it’s too easy, so I wouldn’t advise a woman to enter a field based on gender. I’d advise her based on her willingness to be resilient and consistent in it.

I have always dealt with being different and therefore would never take in consideration to not enter an industry due to gender

Have you seen things change for women working in male-dominated industries, over the past ten years? How do you anticipate that it might improve in the future? Can you please explain what you mean?

Overall the concept of being a woman that drives has become more acceptable by my peers. There was a time when I had to defend my friend because a guy insisted that she was a bad mother because she was a doing the very thing a good mother does, provide.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to sit down with Elon Musk. I want to know how he thinks, how he sees all the moving pieces working together and how he predicts the direction of things.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Ming S. Zhao
Authority Magazine

Co-founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare. Ming is an entrepreneur, business strategist, investor and podcast host.