Owner-operator Karen Noel named WIT’s January member of the month

Karen Noel
Karen Noel, who drives as an owner-operator team with her husband for Forward Air, has been named the Women In Trucking Association’s member of the month for January. (Courtesy: Women In Trucking)

PLOVER, Wis. — Karen Noel, an owner-operator with Forward Air, has been named January member of the month by the Women in Trucking Association (WIT).

Like many professional drivers, trucking was a second career for Noel, who was laid off after working more than 30 years in banking. In 2015, her husband was changing careers and decided to enter the trucking industry, and he asked Noel if she wanted to go into trucking with him. While Noel’s husband was familiar with trucking, she had no experience in the field — so she decided to join him on the road as a passenger.

“Once I was out on the road with him, I saw other women truck drivers,” said Noel. “It never registered with me that women could be truck drivers too.”

Noel started asking every female truck driver she saw how they felt about the career. She says all the responses she received were positive.

After six months of riding along as a passenger on her husband’s runs, Noel decided to go to school to earn her commercial driver’s license (CDL). Noel says that because she had no background in trucking, she really worked hard to overcome challenges, such as backing. She credits her husband for encouraging her throughout the process and being her “rock.”

Once she earned her CDL, Noel and her husband worked for Knight Transportation as a team for three years; they are now owner-operators with Forward Air.

“Trucking has made me a better person. I’ve learned patience while out on the road,” Noel said. “I’m excited to be a member of Women In Trucking and support its mission. I would like to see more women working in the trucking industry.”

While Noel serves as an inspiration to women in trucking, she says she also wants to be an example for her grandchildren — to show them they can be anything they want to be.

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