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Diversity Champions Q&A – Tanya De Landelles at Russell Transport PTY LTD

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AN ONGOING SERIES BROUGHT TO YOU BY TELETRAC NAVMAN AND THE AUSTRALIAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATION (ATA)

Tanya De Landelles has worked in Australia’s transport sector for two decades and counting. And in that time she has seen firsthand the slow acceptance of women into the industry, and has become a passionate mentor to young women looking to make their way in transport.

We sat down with Tanya to discuss her time in transport, her work mentoring young women, and how the transport industry can do better to become a diverse and welcoming sector to all.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get started in the industry?

I kind of fell into it to be honest!

I was working at a Dunlop Super Dealer and running the office. One day a driver came in and said, “You’d be great in our office, are you interested in the opportunity?”

Next thing you know I was working for Queensland Rail on a 3-month fixed term contract. And here I am, 26 years later still working in transport.

I started in the industry as a data entry clerk, and through hard work and study, I became an office manager, and eventually, a terminal manager at Aurizon Intermodal in Brisbane.

During that time, I was part of a team that went all over the country after QRNational/Aurizon acquired another company. I was able to travel extensively and roll out the systems at the new locations. Now I’m the Group Services Manager at Russell Transport, and loving every moment of it.

October is Global Diversity Awareness Month. How has your role as a Driving Change Diversity Champion enabled you to help young women looking to get into the industry?

When I first started in the rail industry, I was literally the only female in the regional terminal I was working at in Cairns. Opportunities didn’t come your way very often and you really had to take them with both hands.

So, I know what it’s like to try and get ahead, and I empathise with what young women are going through when they’re trying to break into transport.

I’m thankful that I’ve been exposed to diverse people and cultures throughout my time in the industry. I’ve also met plenty of people who are stuck in their ways, always saying, “this is how we've always done it!”. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time working with them to break down those barriers and say instead, “let's have a look and see what can work better!”

Being a Driving Change Diversity Champion has given me the opportunity to reach out to young women who are in the same position I was and offer them mentorship, guidance, and advice on how to break into the industry and navigate predominantly male workplaces.

What do you think is holding the industry back from improving inclusivity and diversity?

The transport industry can be a very closed shop at times. It isn’t the same everywhere, but when I was first coming through it was a case of “jobs for the boys”. That’s improved over time, but sometimes it can be still an issue.

The other big thing I’ve seen is that people will look at a job listing for a role within transport and think they have to tick every single box. What I’ve discovered is that because they haven’t done that exact role within transport previously, they think they aren’t qualified, even if they’ve done something similar in another industry.

I think that the industry needs to reduce the stigma of requiring previous experience in some roles. Because skills are transferable, and there are so many people from diverse backgrounds that can contribute so much if given the opportunity.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for young women in the industry, and what can businesses do better to open doors and encourage women and people from diverse backgrounds to participate?

There’s so much more to transport than just driving a vehicle, and I think that businesses need to concentrate on communicating that.

When I’m in schools talking to young women, or attending careers markets and similar events, I’m always keen to let anyone I speak to know that you’re not necessarily going to be behind the wheel of a truck. There are so many roles within transport that can cater to different interests and skillsets. Compliance, HR, Safety, IT, planning… there are so many different avenues that people simply aren’t aware of.

We need to do a better job as an industry of making sure people know that. Once they do, they see that there’s a space for them within transport, and people with diverse backgrounds and diverse experience will bring their knowledge to the industry along with new ways of looking at old problems.

What are some of the initiatives you’d like to implement to improve diversity and welcome more young people to the industry?

I think it’s about looking at the industry and realising that just because we’ve done things a certain way in the past doesn’t mean we have to keep doing them.

This is particularly true in the disability space. There are all kinds of positions and tasks in the industry that can be done by people with disabilities. And the same can be said for people from all walks of life, be it culture, gender, religion and so on.

We need to understand that skills can be taught. Computer systems can be taught. Processes can taught. If someone is interested in learning them, and they’re willing to put in the work to do that, then they should be given the opportunity, no matter where they come from or who they are.  

 

Find more about the Teletrac Navman Driving Change Diversity Program here.​


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