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Works for: Alachua County Public Schools
Role: Transportation Director
Describe a day in your professional life.
Rowls: In my role as the Director of Transportation, my days are often quite demanding, characterized by a fast-paced and high-pressure environment that spans from the moment I start until the day's end. To effectively manage our operations, one of my core strategies is to maintain a strong and visible presence among our dedicated team of drivers and support staff.
I believe that being accessible and engaged with our employees is essential for a well-functioning transportation department. That's why my day typically begins with a visit to our dispatch center, which I consider the heartbeat of our organization. This initial stop allows me to stay closely connected to our operations and gain valuable insights into how our daily activities are progressing. By starting my day at dispatch, I can not only receive crucial updates but also get a genuine feel for the pulse of our transportation operations. This firsthand experience helps me make informed decisions, address any immediate concerns, and ensure that our team is working together cohesively to meet our goals.
While the days may be long and the pressure may be high, this approach of visibility and engagement with our drivers and support staff has proven to be invaluable in maintaining the efficiency and success of our transportation department.
What brought you to the transportation industry?
Rowls: In my perspective, I believe I stumbled into the transportation industry somewhat unexpectedly. Initially, my career aspirations were rooted in education, with dreams of becoming a teacher and eventually a school principal. To support myself during my academic journey, I began working as a school bus driver with the intention of transitioning into a teaching role after completing my degree.
However, as I delved deeper into the world of transportation and logistics, I found myself captivated by the industry. This fascination led me to change my career trajectory, and I made swift progress within the student transportation sector. Over the course of just eight years, I moved from being a daily school bus driver to assuming the role of Director, overseeing the entire operations. Along this journey, I held various operational positions that enriched my understanding of the field.
What’s something critical that you’ve learned during your time in the student transportation industry?
Rowls: A valuable lesson I've gained from my experience in the industry is the recognition that each individual has unique needs, and it falls upon me to adapt and provide the necessary resources for their progress. The secret sauce, in its simplicity, is this: "Treat people like people." By doing so, you foster a supportive environment where people are inclined to stand by your side.
What’s your advice for someone considering a career in this industry?
Rowls: This industry is in a constant state of flux, demanding a mindset and personality that can swiftly adapt. It operates at a lightning-fast pace and demands unwavering dedication. Dive in headfirst and be the catalyst for change that can revolutionize the way we deliver services to the leaders of tomorrow.