According to the dictionary, the word pivot means to turn it oscillate toward a new direction, to completely change the direction or the course or something, when speaking in terms of business.  Ashley Williams-Booker completely embodied the word pivot when she made the drastic change from a schoolteacher and eventually landed in the male-dominated trucking and logistics industries.

On a mission to empower women like herself, Williams-Booker has been her own teacher in many ways, having had many doors closed to her and has developed a training course to educate others on the business and has become a multi-millionaire in the process. Black Woman Magic? We’d say so! This is a woman that has defied the odds and become a champion for those of us that look like her. Ashley Williams-Booker talks with Sheen Magazine about how she started, the roads she took, and how she is growing into a mogul in an industry that was not designed for her.

Give us some background on your life before you made this pivot into the trucking industry.

I started out at Texas Southern University, and I majored in Business Administration with a minor in Accounting and I ended up being a teacher. I did not know that I would end up in the field, but I became a teacher. I taught geometry and from there I went into insurance helping teachers to roll money over to their 403B plans. For a short period, I was a CPS case manager and through all of that I ended up going into trucking.

That is a bit of a leap going from education to working with teachers and then working with children and now being in the trucking industry. What was it that caused you to make such a drastic change?

Well, during the time that I was working in insurance it was commission based so I didn’t get a check unless I sold something. It was more like an “eat what you kill” type of situation. I had a friend that was in the trucking industry and decided to show me how to do dispatching so that I can make income in the meantime. It took me a little while to catch on but then there was a young woman that took their time to slow down and show me how to do it. In the first week I made $8000 then I made about $15000 a second week. So, I went from making $4000 a month to making $4000 every 4 days so I decided to focus more attention and time on that and that’s how it all started.

Tell us a little bit more about what it is exactly that you do in your business.

I have a transportation company, a brokerage company, and a dispatch company. I am asset based which means I also have a fleet of trucks. I mainly operate in the intermodal part of the business which means I am at ports, and I am at railroads. The money that was coming in from the assets is what afforded me the opportunity to be able to open a brokerage so I was able to give opportunities to drivers to take loads that I couldn’t carry. I then bought a 10-acre property which allowed me to open a warehouse so I’m able to do transloading.

You have achieved a great amount of success in a relatively short period of time, and it takes some people years to get there. What do you think attributed to you having such success in this frame of time?

I would say my past experiences and past failures. Growing up, my mother always made me account for the decisions that I made and if I made a mistake, I had to correct it. If something happens and there’s a problem that arises, I find a way to resolve it and always look for the solution and I feel like being solutions-oriented is what helped me to get to where I am. I have always been very resourceful and good at networking, in my past careers, I always made friends with the right people and when it was time to start my business, they were there for me as a resource.

Williams-Booker, who says that she saw a deficit in the number of women in her industry, found it important to bring women into this fold that she was now in. “When I got into the industry, I realized that the percentage of women in this industry was less than five percent and that is what prompted me to start my training course”, she says. The trucking industry is very heavily male-dominated, but Williams-Booker wants women to know that with consistency, they can be just as successful as their male counterparts. To the woman that wants to go into this industry, she says “never let anyone deter you just because you are a woman”.

Ashley Williams-Booker tells of some of the discouraging moments when doors closed in her face and she was made to feel that as a woman, and a woman of color, she was not supposed to be in those rooms and a part of those million-dollar conversations. “I have now proven that I not only belong in those rooms, but I created my own rooms and made it so that now some of those same people must come to me to get in those rooms. Now that is what we call a Boss move!

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Photo Credit: Cameron Addison