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Innovation key to attracting next generation of transportation and logistics leaders

How Werner goes beyond technology to build a culture that challenges the status quo

By Danny Lilley, VP and Chief Technology Officer, Werner Enterprises

As we enter the second half of 2022, the transportation and logistics industry is still dealing with the residual effects of the pandemic, including accelerated technological advances, a tough labor market and an inconsistent supply chain. 

In addition to these challenges, carriers are also facing a shift in the workplace, as the pandemic has forever altered how people work and what they look for in a long-term career choice. However, with those rapid shifts, companies are embracing the resulting positive change for the long term.

At the onset of the pandemic, Werner Enterprises launched Werner EDGE to emphasize its commitment to technology and innovation, as well as brand its emerging digital freight platform. But in the two years since Werner EDGE has launched, the organization has witnessed something more. Its emphasis on technology and innovation has gone beyond software updates, an improved technology stack and growing the IT department. It has resulted in a culture willing to ask questions and speak up. 

“In order to build a modern transportation company, you need a workforce that is willing to think differently and challenge the status quo to drive innovation,” Werner VP and CTO Danny Lilley said. “This includes buy-in from everyone, from executive leadership to office staff to our professional drivers over the road. We have seen first-hand elevating innovation as a core component of our business has resulted in a culture that challenges each other, which has positively contributed to the business outcomes.

Another organizational change that influenced this unified culture of innovation was the development of a product team. Though housed in Werner’s technology department, the purpose of the team is to encourage collaboration between all departments to ideate, create processes and develop roadmaps that drive results. 

“By building a product team, we have fostered a culture of curiosity and debate and removed silos,” Lilley said. “This has allowed innovation to cross departments and drive change throughout the organization. With this, our leaders have embraced this transformation with a willingness to test and scale ideas as they come forward.”

These cultural shifts have also trickled down into how the company recruits and retains talent. As the organization has incorporated technology into everything it does – ESG, digital platforms, safety and more – the IT department is bringing in diverse technology leaders and associates with modern skill sets to add to its company’s strong leadership. 

“The supply chain is constantly evolving. To be competitive and to meet the demands of our customers, it is important that we continue to embrace a culture of innovation,” Lilley said. “When we do, we know it will result in the next generation of transportation and logistics leaders that will transform our industry, now and into the future.”

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Werner Enterprises (No. 10).

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