Despite working within the transport and logistics space for over two decades, getting in the driver’s seat hadn’t initially crossed the mind of Nicole Phillips, 43.
That was until she came across an ad for Visy’s female driver training program back in 2021. “I saw it advertised online and thought I would give it a crack. I was actually looking for a different job and it came into my feed,” said Phillips, who has since upgraded to her MC.
“The appeal of driving a truck looked like a bit of fun and something a bit more physical – and a chance to get away from the office work. I also felt that from working in the logistics industry a sideways move to driving would be less daunting than totally shifting industries. I felt like I had some base knowledge of what’s involved.”
She says the course covered everything from OHS, vehicle handling and securing loads, to compliance, customer service and practical training out on the road.
After completing the four-week training program, Phillips became a qualified heavy rigid driver, operating out of Melbourne. She’s now behind the wheel of a Scania P450, which is based in Mentone, and carts packaging, plastics, cardboard, aluminium, paper reels and recyclable products throughout metro Melbourne – with occasional runs into Ballarat too.
“I was lucky enough to get a new truck when I started,” said Phillips. “I was a bit anxious to start with but once I got the hang of it, I found the work enjoyable. I love the flexibility it gives me. I can get home early to spend time with the kids and do all of the other jobs that I need to do as a mother.”
She says each day begins early and involves lots of driving. “I pick up my truck and go to load. Usually a typical day would involve two to four deliveries, always supported with my lovely customer service and a few jokes with forklift drivers. Having banter throughout the day makes it a bit of fun.”
When asked if the industry was as she expected, Phillips said, “Yes it is. My previous industry exposure gave me a good sense of what to expect. I had to earn respect at the start. Being a male dominated industry, I was welcomed but it did create surprise to a lot of people. Once they saw I could do everything they did, and just as well, they certainly treated me as an equal.”
For other women considering getting into truck driving, Phillips’ advice is, “Absolutely give it a go. If you think you are a capable driver, why not!”
Though she’s enjoying driving a semi, Phillips recently upgraded to her MC with Visy and is waiting for an opportunity to get into something bigger. “Once my kids have finished school I might even have a look at linehaul!” she said.