Ryder VSA Heidi Davis

Heidi Davis

Driver case study - Heidi Davis

Ryder HGV driver and truck

THE ROUTE TO HGV DRIVING

Heidi Davis’s route into truck driving is rather an unusual one. It’s all thanks to her love of horses. A keen show jumper, Heidi and her mother own four horses between them and have been regularly competing in competitions up and down the country for many years. Although her 4x4 and trailer was ample for transporting her own horses, a career opportunity to transport polo horses to and from events presented itself and Heidi gained her Class 2 HGV licence.

However, it was seven years after obtaining her HGV licence that she actually transported her first horse in a truck. “Although the Polo event opportunity fell through, I decided not to waste my newly acquired HGV licence and became an agency driver,” explains Heidi.

DRIVING FOR RYDER

Being an agency driver meant Heidi worked for multiple logistics and transport firms, with no set hours, going where the work was required.

“The vehicles would be loaded with goods that I had to unload myself using a pump truck. At five feet four and nine stone, moving big, hefty pallets around was hard work, and was beginning to take its toll on my joints.”

While working as an agency driver for a local logistics firm, a truck was hired from Ryder for Heidi to drive, and she got to know the Lead Vehicle Service Attendant at Ryder. A position
as a VSA driver arose and Heidi was offered it.

“The VSA role was great. The hours suited me better, and I was no longer driving loaded vehicles and having to unload goods. No evening or weekend work either,” says Heidi.

The VSA role involves delivering and collecting Ryder rental and lease vehicles to and from customers. It also involves delivering and collecting vehicles for MOTs and repairs, as well as vehicle cleaning and their general maintenance.

“We’re based at Ryder Newbury in Berkshire and go as far south as Dorset, and as far north as Doncaster. We only travel as far as our scheduled hours allow us. There are other Ryder VSA teams located throughout the country,” adds Heidi.

FAST PROMOTION AND ACHIEVING CLASS 1

Within nine months of joining Ryder, Heidi was earmarked for promotion. The Lead VSA role at Newbury became vacant and Heidi was offered the position. As Lead VSA she is still involved with the driving of vehicles but has a team of four drivers that she manages.

“I plan all the jobs and assign them to each of my drivers. There’s a lot of admin but I still get out most days. Sometimes I’ll drive the pool vehicle and go and pick up one of the drivers after they have made a delivery to a customer, or sometimes I’ll deliver a vehicle to a customer. Every day varies, which is what I love,” she enthuses.

As part of the promotion, Heidi was encouraged to obtain her Class 1 HVG licence, which would give her the ability to drive a 44-tonnne artic and trailer.

“Before joining Ryder it would never have crossed my mind to go for the Class 1, but when I became Lead VSA it was suggested that it would be beneficial for me to have the ability to drive the
heavier vehicles,”
explains Heidi.

Ryder driver Heidi

LEARNING THE RYDER WAY 

Heidi trained for, and sat, her Class 1 HGV test all within 5 days through the Ryder Driver Training Academy. Run by a former member of the armed forces, the training is fast, thorough and like nothing Heidi had experienced before.

“My instructor was absolutely brilliant.. Learning to drive an artic is a unique experience as you’re essentially manoeuvring two vehicles (the tractor and trailer), but he explained clearly what he
wanted me to do, and I understood everything.”

The training started in the yard to get Heidi used to the size and shape of the articulated training truck, before going out on the road.

“The fact that the training is over four consecutive days is brilliant as it stays fresh in your mind. On the day of the test, I was taken out for a pre-test drive which was really helpful. Overall, I would
highly rate and recommend Ryder’s in-house Driver Training Academy.”

WHY DRIVING FOR RYDER IS THE BEST

Asked what she loves about being a VSA driver for Ryder, Heidi says it’s that every day is so different.

“It’s also the stability it provides with regular hours and no evening, overnight or weekend work. I can still enjoy my horses and show jumping events outside of work, which was tricky when I was an agency worker,” she explains.

Before obtaining her HGV licence seven years ago, Heidi had worked in a variety of different roles, from landscape gardening and window cleaning, to working with horses and in retail. The change of career to become an HGV driver is not something she regrets in the slightest.

“My favourite thing about driving for a living is being out on the road, seeing different scenery and feeling free – not stuck in an office all day,” says Heidi.

As Lead VSA at Newbury, Heidi is involved in knowing exactly what is happening with each and every vehicle that Ryder is renting or leasing to customers and is the first port of call for
resolving any customer issues.

“Ryder is a lovely company to work for, very supportive and the VSA role is perfect for someone wanting regular, sociable hours. I would say to any female considering HGV driving - do it. With the advancements in technology it is as easy (physically) for women to drive a large truck as men. Being out on the road is the best feeling.”