Woman Shares Love For Driving Big Trucks And Making Home Deliveries

Ms Devi is a dedicated heavy goods vehicle driver, who started as an admin clerk. She volunteered to do deliveries when the scheduled male drivers didn’t come to work.
14 Dec 2019 12:47
Woman Shares Love For Driving Big Trucks And Making Home Deliveries
Vikashni Devi, a driver for Vinod Patel & Co. Pte Ltd, on December 11, 2019. Photo: Vinod Patel

This week, as part of the series on advocacy for women empowerment Principles (WEP) in the private sector, we spoke Vikashni Devi,  an employee of Vinod Patel & Co. Pte Ltd.

Ms Devi works is a driver, in Vinod Patel’s Home & Building department.

The WEP commitment is an initiative that represents a firm commitment/action by signatories towards ensuring that both men and women have equal employment opportunities. Also that the work environment is not discriminatory against a particular gender; generally female.

As an an equal opportunity employer and Vinod Patel wants to build on that commitment.

Ms Devi is a dedicated heavy goods vehicle driver, who started as an admin clerk. She volunteered to do deliveries when the scheduled male drivers didn’t come to work.

She started with one-tonne trucks and now drives six-tonne trucks. She is also training to take up to nine-tonne trucks soon.

There are many examples within the Group.

Of course this is only possible through the supportive male executives who value equal opportunity employment.

“I really love driving! I can challenge the boys here,” Ms Devi said.

“Sometimes some drivers can’t reverse in the driveway and so Sharvind asks me to do it and I do it well.

“Also, some customers come and say ‘you send that lady driver, she’s very good”

Vinod Patel is one of the leading retail hardware companies in Fiji, with over 57 years of experience. The family owned business started in 1962 with the two Co-founders, Vinod Patel and Umakant Patel (Bachubhai).

Below is an interview with Ms Devi:

Tell us about yourself, where you grew up?

I am from Labasa and have two children. My father and mother are both alive and live with me in Nadawa. My daughter is in America with my sister and my son is in Form 3 at DAV Boys.

I have three sisters and 1 brother. Growing up in Labasa was fun and my parents always worked hard to support our family. We moved to Suva for better opportunity. My Father is still working!
How did your parents influence you?

My father taught me a lot about driving when I was small. I used to sit on his lap while he explained to me.

My mother taught me a lot about respecting my husband and being a supportive wife.
Where did you go to school?

Korotaria Primary School followed by Labasa Sangam for secondary school.
Tell us a bit about your career at Vinod Patel Group? What led you to your career?

I started in the Receiving Department before I moved up to become an Invoicing Clerk.

One day I was travelling somewhere with my husband, I can’t remember now, and I was driving my husband’s truck. Sharvind my Branch Manager saw me driving.

This was just after Cyclone Winston.

When I came to work after that Sharvind asked me if I would be interested in driving the Vinod Patel 1 tonne truck.

I think at that time there was a shortage of drivers. I agreed.

Then after six months he helped me get my Group 6 licence and now I am driving a 5 tonne truck.

I am also now training to drive the 10 wheeler and 12 wheeler trucks.
How has working for Vinod Patel helped you not only professionally but personally?

Vinod Patel is very supportive and has always invested in my training, licensing and upskilling. My manager Sharvind has been very encouraging and helpful in building my driving skills. He is always helping me to develop.
Who have been your strongest influences in life?

My husband, Rajesh Chand.

He has taught me a lot about driving and manoeuvring big trucks.

He doesn’t say I can’t move on to bigger trucks, he always says I can do it.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?

Driving a 5 tonne truck and possibly being the only full time female truck driver for a big company, in Fiji.
What would you do differently if you had a chance?

Nothing. I love my work and my life.

How would friends and acquaintances describe you?

Fun, easy-going, supportive.
Describe your biggest obstacles in life and how you mastered them?

No big challenge except for when deliveries are not on time and the customer starts yelling. But I manage those. After I explain property to them they understand and calm down.
Where do you see yourself in five years?Driving a bigger truck (she says with a laugh)

Fun facts:

Do you have a daily work habits? I always make sure I check and get the deliveries done on time.
Do you have a favourite app? Candy Crush!
Describe a typical day at work? 8am start, team meeting, look at batch of invoices, loading of materials, security checks of all items loaded, tie the rope and leave for deliveries.

When we come back we collect all the invoices again and give to the invoice clerk and then same process goes.
When at home, what do you like to read?

Not read but watch TV series and just relax.
What is your favourite dish to cook? 

I make a very good pot of Chilly Chicken


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