Brooke Willey tells her kids regularly that “nothing truly worth having ever comes easy”.
“Whether it’s a good grade in a tough class or the starting spot on an athletic team—you need to work hard for it,” Brooke emphasizes.
You’ll see hard work, perseverance and passion as the pavers on Brooke’s career path to being named in 2010 as CRST’s vice president of human resources and the only woman on the executive team.
Growing up, Brooke’s parents infused an expectation of working hard for what you want…so she rolled up her sleeves and got her first job at 14.
“It taught me a lot about the value of hard work, making a positive impact and paving my own way,” says Brooke. “Throughout my career, as I took on additional roles and responsibilities, initially in operational management and eventually human resources, I’ve become a firm believer that you must be passionate about your role and use your role to positively impact employees’ lives. What’s most important is creating an atmosphere where all of our employees can achieve ‘job joy’”.
Brooke says ‘job joy’ is when an employee comes to work every day with the opportunity to achieve their full potential, enjoying what they do in a productive, safe and meaningful environment. Often an employee’s ‘job joy’ is directly related to an employee’s positive rapport with his or her manager. This is why Brooke has worked hard to build strong leaders and has been publicly recognized for those efforts.
Under Brooke and her team’s leadership development efforts, CRST was named a “2016 Top 10 Best Private Company for Leaders” by Chief Executive magazine. Last year, CRST was named a “Workforce Leader in Training” by the Corridor Business Journal and Kirkwood Community College.
“I believe that an employee’s primary motivation for staying with a company is the relationship they have with their leader,” says Brooke. “As I speak with tenured drivers and office personnel, a common theme I hear is they have stayed with CRST, because they have a solid, respectful relationship with their dispatcher or manager.”
Another important mission for Brooke has been to recruit, support and promote women in the industry. “Women have accomplished a lot in the trucking industry, but there is much left for us to do.”
CRST now has 545 women drivers (as of Oct, 2018), representing about 10% of the fleet and above industry average. Two of the CRST operating companies have 13% (CRST Expedited) and 17% (Pegasus) of their fleets comprised of female drivers. Additionally, there are now four women on the executive team and the number of females in supervisory roles has grown from 19 percent to 31 percent in the past four years.
When asked about her advice for young women, Brooke offers these words of wisdom: “Work hard, work smart and be passionate about what you do. In the face of adversity, or a difficult or frustrating situation, show perseverance, determination and strength. Don’t be afraid to take on a new challenge that may stretch your capabilities. Some of my best learning moments have come through challenging times or challenging assignments.”
In October Brooke was recognized in Dallas at the Women In Trucking Association’s Accelerate! Conference as finalist for the association and Freightliner Truck’s 2018 Women of Influence Award, honoring female role models and trailblazers in the trucking industry:
“I relish the opportunity to work with women in the industry every day, supporting and promoting each other in a historically male-dominated field,” says Brooke. “Write your own story and blaze your own trail. Together, we can make this a great industry for everyone.”
Pictured: Kary Schaefer, General Mgr, Product Marketing and Strategy, Daimler Trucks North America; Nozuko Mayeza, Business Owner in S Africa; Angela Eliacostas, Founder & CEO, AGT Global Logistics; Brooke Willey, VP HR, CRST; and Ellen Voie, President & CEO, Women In Trucking Association, Inc.