Be your own advocate, trucking school CEO says

“Remember that your voice matters and your ideas matter just as much as your male counterparts,” Meenakshi Walia says. When you feel you are being disregarded, you must be your own advocate and challenge the stereotypes that come with women being in a position of leadership, says the CEO of Trukademy, a professional truck driving school based in Mississauga, Ont.

Meenakshi Walia, CEO of Trukademy, a professional truck driving school based in Mississauga, Ont. (Photo: Leo Barros)

We must not allow the misunderstandings of others distract us from our own growth and empowerment, Walia adds. Education and hard work have helped Walia carve a place for herself in this male-dominated industry.

She earned a master’s in commerce in India, and after migrating to Canada in 2000, started working as a screening officer at Toronto Pearson International Airport. After upgrading her educational skills, Walia landed a job as a financial advisor at a leading bank. During her spare time, the mother of two kids helped her husband Raj in his motor-carrier consultation business.

This sparked an interest in the transportation industry. Walia, who was keen on starting a business, opened Trukademy in 2016, with her husband. “I have always advocated for the need of professional transportation schools that not only focus on how to pass the road test or obtain a driver’s licence, but to focus on techniques and skills which are crucial for professional truck driving,” Walia says.

The school follows the full MELT (mandatory entry-level training) program and offers the in-depth AZ 200 program. Trukademy teaches students speed and space management, border crossing processes, CVSA (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance) inspections, the importance of CVOR (commercial vehicle operator’s registration) and other aspects of the transportation industry.

Keeping roads safe

“We have always strived for quality education and excellence and that is why Trukademy is a member of Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) and delivers their courses,” Walia says. “Our mission will always be to provide our student drivers with the knowledge for becoming professional truck drivers and keeping our roads safe.” Walia says, “We strongly believe that when a student is entering the industry, they must make an informed decision and understand their compatibility with the industry.”

At the time of the enrollment, students are interviewed and educated on the various aspects of transportation, including the challenges associated with being a truck driver. The co-founder of Trukademy juggles varies roles at the school, including management, daily operation processes and administration. Walia says it is very liberating and inspiring to see women in positions of leadership and authority.

It is important to remember that gender gaps and inequality still exist, so the path women and men have in taking on leadership roles can differ significantly, she adds. The presence of women in the industry, be it in the operations side or driving, has increased immensely from a decade ago, Walia says. A long-haul trucking career could mean multiple days away from home, a difficult choice for women, who were traditionally seen as homemakers.

Now it is becoming more common for women to take on the lead role in households and make career choices that expand outside traditional jobs.

We should continue encouraging women to make their way in this industry that has great financial growth, independence.

Meenakshi Walia, CEO Trukademy

“We should continue encouraging women to make their way in this industry that has great financial growth, independence and also helps keep our roads safe,” Walia says.

Women make excellent truck drivers because they are patient and calm, listen to instructions and are detail oriented, she adds.

Walia is excited about the future of Trukademy and the trucking industry. “We are always brain-storming new ideas for bettering the curriculum, and we will continue integrating new technology and advancements that help us provide exceptional and memorable learning experiences for our students,” she adds.