Ruth Lopez, the director of transportation management for Ryder, was named the 2019 Influential Woman In Trucking at the Women In Trucking Accelerate! Conference & Expo in Dallas on Oct. 1.
Lopez was one of six finalists profiled at the conference. The other finalists taking the stage were Niki Bolton, senior truck auditor and executive projects officer for American Truck & Rail Audits; Kristy Knichel, president and CEO of Knichel Logistics; Kellylynn McLaughlin, over-the-road trainer and driver for Schneider National; Jodie Teuton, vice president of Kenworth of Louisiana and chair of American Truck Dealers; and Lidia Yan, CEO and co-founder of NEXT Trucking.
Lopez received a standing ovation and cheers from the audience as she accepted the award and said her first call was going to be to her parents, who she credited for teaching her to “always do the right thing” when she was growing up in El Paso, Texas.
El Paso is where Lopez started her career with Ryder 20 years ago. Her job took her to Laredo and then Fort Worth, where she ran a distribution center.
“I wanted to learn the transportation end of it so I moved to our TMC. From there I was running some teams moving freight,” said Lopez, who then was asked to move to Ryder’s brokerage division. During that stint, she worked out of a hotel in Joliet, Illinois, for three months and then one in Pennsylvania for nine months as operations were launched.
“Once I finished the brokerage portion of my career, I was offered an opportunity in Novi, Michigan,” where for seven years she has been leading a team of 115 there and about 105 Ryder employees in Mexico.
While in Michigan, Lopez ran Ryder’s women’s leadership program for three years.
“I was sad to see that stint go. I very much enjoyed that and the impact we made with some of our female leaders,” she said. “When I moved to Novi, I asked the lady who was running the women’s leadership initiative at the time, ‘What can I do to help you?’ … You have to create your own opportunity. You have to ask.”
In addition to her parents, Lopez credited Ryder supervisors who supported her steadfastness in “not compromising principles.”
“I take the time every week to make sure that I’m invested in my team and sharing my experiences. I’m surrounded with people that are not afraid to say no to me. That’s the type of person you want to surround yourself with,” she said.
At a reception later, Lopez said, “It’s such an honor to be recognized by this organization. The recognition from my own team, which submitted the nomination, meant the world to me. I told them I already won, regardless of what the outcome was.”
At first, Lopez didn’t even believe her team had nominated her. “I received an email from Women In Trucking that I thought was spam because of the way it was worded. ‘You’re up for an award’ or something, sure,” she said.
Lopez said she also didn’t expect to hear her name called as the Influential Woman of the Year.
“Being nominated with those other five ladies was fantastic,” said Lopez, who was going out for a celebratory dinner with her three team members who accompanied her to Dallas for the Women In Trucking conference. “When I get back, I’m going to buy lunch for the entire team.”
Lopez said every manager she has reported to within the Ryder organization has been supportive. “That’s why I’ve stayed with Ryder for 20 years. I believe in the organization and what they’re doing and the way they treat our people. Obviously we want to delight our clients. We have to do that by taking care of our personnel. They in turn take care of our clients. That’s the culture we’ve created within Ryder.”