In a work environment known for multifaceted skillsets, such as the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), Kelly Schubert stands out.
Schubert, who joined TCA as its membership coordinator in February, brings a multinational perspective to her role that few can match.
“I’m a dual citizen. I was born in Germany, lived there 10 years or so, and then lived in Michigan for 10 years,” she said, adding that her family moved back and forth between Germany and the United States.
“I have two bachelor’s degrees, both from Michigan State University. One of them is a bachelor of science in neuroscience and one is a bachelor of arts in political science of pre-law,” she noted. “I also went to grad school where I studied political science with an emphasis in international relations. My master’s degree is from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.”
Schubert’s education journey — literally speaking — reflects her unique upbringing. The daughter of a German father and an American mother, she and her family crisscrossed the Atlantic because of her father’s job at Nestlé Foods.
“I’ve been moving ever since I can remember. I was born in Germany, lived there until I was 4. Then moved to the U.S., did preschool through first grade; then we moved to Germany again. When I was about 9 or 10, we moved back to the U.S. and I finished everything until undergrad,” she explained. “I know some people don’t like to move but I kind of love it. I get bored being in one place for a long time, and you can meet so many different people, which is exciting.”
Having already traveled more globally than most people do in a lifetime, Schubert lists Geneva, Switzerland, as her favorite stop and Japan as her top remaining bucket-list destination. She said there are benefits to her wanderlust: She’s enjoyed a rich diversity of culture and developed a fearlessness to explore the unknown.
“When I finished my undergrad and moved across the ocean again and left my parents and brother in the U.S., people asked, ‘What if you’re lonely?’” she said.
“It’s kind of scary, but it’s exciting because you’re not limited in the people you meet. You make so many friends, so it’s a new opportunity,” she continued. “It’s fun to see so many different parts of the world, and traveling is one of my favorite things because I moved so often when I was little. So, it’s not made me feel like I have to stay tied to a certain place. Besides, wherever you are, you can always make it home.”
Dealing with such a wide variety of people and cultures has also helped Schubert adapt quickly to her role at TCA. She said despite not having a background in the trucking industry, she’s been able to get up to speed and quickly become a contributing member of the team.
“What stands out the most to me is my ability to stay connected with people, even across distances. Especially during the pandemic, I was already used to the digital communication everyone was suddenly using, that’s how I lived my life,” she stated.
“I was a little nervous at first when I thought about talking to all these people in an industry I wasn’t familiar with,” she said. “Now, when someone calls, I’m not nervous at all because everyone is so welcoming and nice. You’re welcomed by people from all parts of the trucking industry, and my team has been so supportive as well.”
Schubert’s responsibilities are varied, from driving new membership numbers to fielding questions from existing members to pitching in with events and conferences. She said the critical success factors of her job are rooted in the fundamental elements of good customer service, something she takes great pride in delivering.
“I’m very detail-oriented. I keep up with my deadlines. I make sure things are ironed out and settled, and I don’t like to leave any stone unturned,” she shared. “I’ve always liked communicating with other people, making relationships, and that’s what I’m able to do in this position.”
With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, events have come charging back onto the association’s calendar and here again, Schubert provides critical member support. She said these encounters have been particularly fruitful with the healthy crowds that are coming out for TCA conferences and events.
“Everyone has been so eager to get back together to network in person and see old friends and connect with each other again,” she said. “For our safety meeting in June we had a 10-year record turnout. If that’s any indication, I think we could set another record for attendance for the annual convention.”
TCA’s annual convention, Truckload 2021: Las Vegas in September, is especially exciting for Schubert.
“That’s going to be our first big convention since COVID and we will have a lot more attendees and exhibitors as a result,” she noted. “I’ve seen the floor plan on my screen since I came here, and I’m excited to see it come to life. It will be cool to be there as all this work comes together.”
Dwain Hebda is a freelance journalist, author, editor and storyteller in Little Rock, Arkansas. In addition to The Trucker, his work appears in more than 35 publications across multiple states each year. Hebda’s writing has been awarded by the Society of Professional Journalists and a Finalist in Best Of Arkansas rankings by AY Magazine. He is president of Ya!Mule Wordsmiths, which provides editorial services to publications and companies.