Features, Second generation, Truck driver, Truckie Profiles

Former scientist turns to trucking

After 15 years in the lab, Ipswich-based Alysha Douma, 37, decided the time was right for a career change – and the open road was calling.

For the past two years, she’s worked for Carways Vehicle Transport, driving an Isuzu FSD and car carrier. She’s now recently progressed to her MC licence and is looking forward to working her way up to the bigger trucks. “It’s been a steep learning curve, especially driving trucks in Brisbane. It’s very different to what I had done previously,” she said.

Douma had established herself as a scientist after completing her Bachelor of Applied Science. Her first role was as a research scientist at the University of Queensland.

“I loved doing that but it wasn’t long-term money so I moved over to a veterinary pharmaceutical company as an Apheresis technician, which is taking blood and plasma products from animals,” Douma explained, adding that the role was quite demanding.

“I got burnt out in that role, so I became a histopathology scientist and loved doing that job. Science would have been long term for me as there were lots of things I was interested in doing, and different avenues to pursue. My whole career was one thing building on top of the other.”

That all changed however following a car accident, which resulted in a neck injury. “Because of the shock to my neck I had to give that up. I had to give up horse riding too, which was really hard for me. I got into horse riding when I was 15 and was riding five days a week.

Though she initially tried going back into the science field after securing a job as a science technician at a high school, it wasn’t the right fit. “When I asked for the right money for the work I was doing, they told me they needed the money to buy hand sanitiser!”

Cinco loves riding in the passenger seat. Image: Alysha Douma

As Douma explained, “Because nearly all of my family is interstate, I’m generally on my own. I found that driving made me happy – it gave me a lease back on life after my accident. I had always loved cars and got more and more into driving. I was going to car meets on weekends and that sort of thing.”

Douma is originally from Geelong, Victoria, and then grew up in New Zealand, before moving to Queensland when she was 15.

“I needed an out from what I had been doing, so I chose to give driving a go for a year and see what happens.”

Douma secured her HR in June 2021 and began working at Carways in November that same year. Given her love of cars, the role was a perfect fit.

“I wasn’t looking at car carrying but when I saw the job I thought I love cars and that sounds interesting. I was applying for anything that didn’t require heavy lifting, because I was limited due to my neck injury. Carways has been really good about it all, and I’m a lot better than I was.”

As it turned out, truck driving wasn’t completely left of field for Douma. Her father had also driven trucks, as well as buses. “Dad drove semis across the Nullarbor and then drove school buses. It was something I was always interested in too so that’s why I decided to get my licence. When I started applying for truck jobs, I didn’t know a thing about vehicle transport, but when I applied, Carways took me on.”

Most of the work is around south-east Queensland, travelling between Gympie and Tweed Heads. “But I do some longer trips to Rocky and Mackay too. I’m hoping to get into interstate and upgrade to a bigger truck,” Douma added.

With her Isuzu FSD, she generally tows a four-car trailer, carrying cars and small rigid trucks of various makes. “I do a lot of work off the port to dealerships and to private addresses. Generally, it’s a 19-metre unit.”

Douma upgraded to her MC in September and hopes to eventually move into bigger trucks. Image: Alysha Douma

Douma says that although she didn’t know what to expect, she’s found a role she enjoys – and she’s growing in confidence too. “I love driving, it makes me happy. Especially when I’m travelling out to the country, you can put your tunes on and when I go long distance I take the dogs too. I have a cavalier named Apollo and a spoodle named Cinco. They love it. When they hear me pull up with the truck at home, they get really excited – my cavalier doesn’t want to get out of the truck once he’s in!

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’ve had a couple of awesome guys at the company who have really helped me out, especially Ben Smith. Then I have a fellow driver, Tai Taimarangai, and he and I have stuck together through thick and thin. We both started new, having not done car carrying before, so we really leaned on each other.

“I definitely think truck driving is a career and a job that isn’t given enough credit; especially when you look at the older guys, with the skills they have and what they’ve achieved.”

So was it the right move for Douma? “Yes,” she said, “and so many of my friends say I’m so much happier now than I have been in a long time.”

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