“Girls Get it Done”: Margaret DeBellotte Teaches and Learns at Every Turn
Growing up, Margaret DeBellotte loved Smokey and the Bandit and Convoy. She really just loved trucks, but in her conservative Caribbean family, becoming a truck driver was not a traditionally accepted role. So, instead, she spent 25 years working in human resources, concentrating on hiring, training, and development. Her love of trucking never went away, however, and when the pandemic hit, she decided it was time to pivot. As the country started to shut down in 2020, she went to trucking school and got her CDL license.
Margaret, who is a founding member of National Minority Women Association in Transportation (NMWAIT), went on the road for 18 months. “I gained a pound a month while I was on the road, so health and wellness is a huge conversation,” she says. “Part of what we talk about at NMWAIT is: How do we stay healthy on the road? How do we manage ourselves? There are some nuances for women, of course, and the mind, body, spirit aspect of things and how we can help each other in that area.
“The reality is the pandemic helped people understand that you could go crazy staying in your house by yourself for a long period of time. So what do you think is happening to truckers? People don’t realize the inhumane conditions truckers live in. Sometimes our loads don’t give us a chance to get a shower or a decent meal for two or three or four days. And truckers just say, ‘Oh well, trucking is tough.’ No, it’s inhumane. Women are less than 10% of the industry, but as we continue to grow, and as we continue to push back and fight for more humane conditions — let’s just say, girls get it done.”
Margaret gets it done while keeping herself safe. Her “call buddies” — people she calls on a regular schedule — provide her with some company, plus they know if she doesn’t call at a set time, something is wrong. She and a group of her friends currently use an app called Life360, which lets you track where everyone is. “You got to be aware, you got to be willing to learn and understand,” she says.
While she is continually learning, she is teaching, too. In addition to driving, Margaret is a career coach, and she recently wrote a book called, 7 Questions to Self-Coach to the Next Level.
“Trucking wasn’t my first career change,” she says. “I am a financial consultant, turned HR professional, turned career coach, turned truck driver, turned author. When I talk about changing, when I talk about the power of the pivot, these are the seven questions I’ve asked myself. It is a personal inventory to prepare you for making a change, big one or small one. Trucking can be a big one, and if you don’t know why you did it and you don’t stay focused, they’ll kick your ass right out the truck.”
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