A 22-year-old truck driver who was recently named NatRoad’s Youth Employee of the Year has urged other young women to consider a career in the trucking industry.
Stephanie Arpasi, who works for Dubbo firm Fardell’s Heavy Haulage, was presented with the award on September 29 as part of NatRoad’s 2023 annual conference, held at the RACV Royal Pines Resort on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Arpasi said she was delighted with the win and hopes it will encourage more diversity in a largely male-dominated industry.
“Winning this award means a lot to me and my employers,” she said.
“The fact that people can see me out there as a young woman in the industry, and it’s not just men, I think that’s definitely a good thing.”
Arpasi has worked for Fardell’s for the past two years and has made a huge impact on her colleagues in that time.
NatRoad chair Paul Fellows described her as a young driver doing a challenging job, who won’t let anything stand in her way to get the work done safely.
“Her professionalism, exceptional driving skills, her personality and dedication to the industry has earned her this award,” he continued.
Arpasi, who started her career operating machinery in the mines, said she has always been interested in truck driving.
“I absolutely hated school, I am more practical minded for sure!” she said.
“Growing up, I was definitely what they call a ‘tomboy’ and I always loved trucks, but I never thought I’d actually get to drive them for a living.
“It’s a great industry to be in. I love travelling around seeing different places all the time, and working with different loads. No two days are the same.”
She said the biggest challenge in her role is securing loads when she’s by herself.
“We do a lot of machine moves and you have got to work out how to operate the machine to get the load on. It can be tricky, especially when you don’t operate those machines regularly!
“You’ve got to figure out where the weight sits on your truck and trailer. There’s quite a lot to it, but my attitude has always been ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way!’”
Arpasi is currently the only female truck driver working for Fardell’s, but says she’s not intimidated by being surrounded by men.
“People say ‘You must cop a lot of s*** from the boys at work,’ but it’s fine! They give it to me and I give it right back to them,” she laughed.
She currently drives a Kenworth T659 and pulls anything from a flat top trailer through to a 4×8 and road trains, but her ultimate goal is to drive the “big stuff ”.
“I want to be operating a 10-line, 12-line platform,” she added.
Sharing her advice for other young women who are interested in getting into the transport industry, she said: “Just get out there and do it! Don’t worry about what people will think. If it’s what you want to do, don’t let anyone stop you.”