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People of Yellow
The Yellow Team | March 13, 2023
Since WIT began publishing its “Top Women to Watch in Transportation” in 2019, 33 freight professionals at Yellow have made the list. Last year, driver Peggy Arnold was not only named a Top Woman to Watch, she was WIT’s “Driver of the Year.” For five consecutive years, WIT has also named Yellow a “Top Company for Women to Work for in Transportation.”
This year, three Yellow professionals made the coveted Top Women to Watch list. Each of them have what WIT seeks in its honorees: significant career accomplishments, a passion for the trucking business and always going the extra mile to support other women in the industry.
Each of our three Women to Watch have built long, rewarding careers at Yellow. Here are their stories:
Five years ago, Esther Parsons traded in her longtime desk job for an office where the view outside the window is ever-changing. She became a professional truck driver for Yellow.
The career shift was about more than a change of scenery. For Parsons, getting behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer was about financial freedom.
“With two kids entering college, what I was earning was not going to work,” she said. “I was seeing red all over my financial forecast.”
A friend who was a professional truck driver encouraged her to get a commercial driver’s license. After earning her CDL, Parsons began seeking out employers. She remembers visiting Yellow’s website and seeing the Women In Trucking logo. Here was a trucking company, she thought, that encourages and supports women.
Today, as a road driver out of Carlisle, Pa. terminal #135, Parsons makes nearly three times the income she earned in her previous role as a logistics specialist for a lawn care and landscaping company. She no longer worries about money and her work schedule offers greater flexibility. She doesn’t have to sit in a cubicle, surrounded by four walls every day.
“I’ve had a great experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Parsons said in an interview last fall with a national news program.
While the number of women drivers in the trucking industry has increased 88% since 2010, they still make up a small percentage of all drivers, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Labor. Parsons knows it can seem daunting to break into a male-dominated field, but opportunities are there for women drivers to build a career and increase their earnings.
Parsons is passionate about mentoring women who are entering the industry. She has been formally mentoring through LeadHERTrucking for the past two years. Parsons helps women new to the trucking industry find their footing, build a strong support network and make progress on their goals.
“If they have the drive to make a career change, they can do it,” she said. “If I can go from being in a cubicle for 20-plus years to driving a truck, anyone can do it.”
For 34 years, Kelly Parish has found opportunities and success in two fields that have historically been tough for women to break into: transportation and information technology.
Starting as a programmer at Yellow in 1989, Parish has held technology roles serving various parts of the company. Two decades ago, she took a management position and found her calling. Leading people and helping them in their careers came naturally to Parish. She has been in management ever since.
“I couldn’t believe I didn’t do this earlier,” she said.
Today, as Director of Application Support and IT Service Management, Parish leads a team of 106 developers, business/process analysts, support technicians and engineers that respond to technological issues 24/7 across the organization, including applications, telephony, network, end user hardware and Office365, to name a few.
Like many of her other roles at Yellow, it’s a position that requires adaptability and problem-solving at a high level. No two days are ever the same, which is fine with Parish.
“I think it’s really good when you move around and do different things. My career has helped me learn the different aspects of IT and the business side as well,” she said.
She believes the best thing about being a woman at Yellow is the opportunity to use her years of experience to help others to become successful managers and leaders. One of her mentees said having Parish as a mentor, “taught me how I want to be in a work environment: professional and respectful. She's taught me so much about how to be a woman in this industry. Being a woman in this industry, sometimes it's hard to be seen, but she taught me how to use my voice."
Parish sees this as her legacy in not only information technology but across all areas of Yellow. She knows the importance of mentorship because it helps women level up in their careers, it supports gender equality and it is a recipe for employee and company success.
Parish said she was “humbled and surprised’ to be named among WIT’s 2023 Top Women to Watch. It’s also been a great honor, she noted, to have a long career in both transportation and IT. She has remained at Yellow, not only because of her career track, but because of the relationships she has formed along the way. Being an active member of the Women’s Inclusion Network, an employee resource group at Yellow, has also enabled Parish to network and connect with women outside of IT.
“Yellow is like a family to me,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who have been here just as long or longer than I have. My husband also works for Yellow. It’s definitely a family affair for us.”
Ivelise Rodriguez’s career in trucking has been a successful one, offering sales opportunities in several markets and roles of increasing responsibility.
It also got off to an unforgettable start.
She laughed when recalling her initial job interview in 2004. A recruiter gave her instructions to the Roadway office in Miami. Rodriguez thought she was applying for a job at the Rodeway Inn – until she found herself at a trucking terminal.
Fortunately, her interviews with Roadway Corp., which had recently merged with Yellow, went well. She was impressed with the women managers who spoke with her. This was an industry, Rodriguez thought, that was accepting of women and where she could thrive.
“It was just amazing to hear how tenured the people were, and how they felt about the company,” she said.
Nineteen years later, Rodriguez is one of those tenured people at Yellow and has earned the reputation of being a standout leader. In her current role out of Charlotte, N.C., she leads efforts to re-engage with former customers of Yellow. It’s challenging but rewarding work, she said. Yellow’s current transformation into a super-regional LTL carrier gives her a strong selling point in building trust and bringing shippers back to Yellow.
“Most of our customers have moved to just-in-time delivery and are moving closer to their own customer base,” she said. “Becoming a super-regional is going to make us more competitive, both transit time-wise and cost-wise. I’m really excited to see One Yellow finalized for our customers.”
Rodriguez, who is Cuban American, is proud to see the trucking industry encourage greater diversity among its work force and consistently looks for ways she can positively contribute to cultivating an inclusive culture for all. She is a founding member and chair of the Multicultural Inclusion Network, one of five employee resource groups at Yellow.
In her own words, “As a member and chair of the Multicultural Inclusion Network, I am excited to connect cross-ethnic backgrounds and cross-job functions. Our ERG offers a distinct opportunity to learn, develop, express our individuality, and share our experiences.”
Rodriguez has attended the Women In Trucking annual conference several times since 2017, where she has built relationships that last. She believes in supporting and encouraging women in the industry. The future for women in trucking, she says, is very bright.
“If you choose to drive a tractor-trailer, you can do that. But there are many other opportunities for women across trucking as well,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a really good niche to get into. We’re going to need transportation in this country for a very long time.”
The stories of our 2023 Top Women To Watch honorees are just three examples of the many women who are building careers and having an impact each day at Yellow. We are proud to do our part in continuing to bring greater diversity to the trucking industry.
To learn more about current opportunities at Yellow, visit our Careers page.
These are shining examples of the many women who have built thriving careers at the original less-than-truckload carrier.
It’s a good question and one we get asked all the time. The answer goes back to Yellow’s origins and commitment to safety.
Yellow’s growing network of CDL Driving Academies is graduating hundreds of new professional drivers and addressing an industry need.
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