Scott Saulnier
Pam Smile 6410713f666d7

Inside look: NTTC Driver of the Year candidate overcomes D.C. interview adversity

March 14, 2023
Highway Transport takes us behind the scenes with Pam Randol in this two-part series following her journey to National Tank Truck Carriers’ 2023 Annual Conference in Boston, where NTTC will reveal the 2022-23 Grand Champion in May.

Pam Randol, professional driver at Knoxville, Tennessee-based Highway Transport, is one of eight finalists for the National Tank Truck Carriers’ (NTTC) Professional Driver of the Year award. The program recognizes a tank truck driver with an incredible driving record, demonstrated commitment to safety, and history of serving the community. Each year during NTTC’s Annual Conference, eight finalists are presented for this prestigious award. One Grand Champion will be crowned and serve as the face of the industry, representing NTTC at safety-focused events throughout the year and sharing NTTC’s mission of safety and education with the public. We chatted with Pam after she returned from Washington, D.C., for a round of events and interviews as part of the NTTC’s selection process.

FREEPORT, Texas—It’s mid-January 2023, and Pam Randol is hoping that today she will feel well enough to put her kayak in the water for the first time since she purchased it on Facebook Marketplace. She’s had to overcome a lot of adversity in the past few weeks but is happy to at least think about how much she’ll enjoy having the watercraft. She also is excited to recount the experiences she had in meeting the judges, sponsors, other finalists, and their spouses during the recent Professional Driver of the Year events in the nation’s capital.

A packed D.C. schedule

“We had no trouble with our flights or getting to our destination,” she shared. “We checked in to our hotel, then got to visit with [Highway Transport] Vice President of Safety Rick Lusby and Managing Director of Human Resources Michelle Rayfield. Later that evening, the finalists and guests were picked up and we had dinner together.”

In addition to the finalists, at dinner she got to meet their spouses, support teams, and a couple of the NTTC judges. Tom Frain, last year’s award winner who also is a professional driver for Highway Transport, attended, as did representatives from the award sponsor. 

The next morning brought a full slate of activities, including a headshot appointment with a professional photographer; live interview that was recorded; speech; and media interview.

“We rotated around to our activities, and everyone helped us do our best to succeed,” Randol noted. “The energy was super positive—not one of competition at all, but of camaraderie. Everyone was lifting each other up, and we called each other champions. People from California, Tennessee, Indiana—all over—came together and it was just wonderful. They were impressive and such nice people. It was exciting and I feel like I’ve already won because I got to experience being with that group.

“I felt comfortable during the judges panel with the interview. I had met two of the five already, and they were all positive. I also did a recorded interview with the president of NTTC, and he was patient and gave good instruction.”

Randol hesitates before saying, “Then there was the speech. I totally bombed it. My topics were things I can easily talk about, but in the moment, I couldn’t organize my thoughts and I stammered. Maybe I was a little too overconfident, and I apologized at the end. Everything else went smoothly, but if I win, it will not be because of that speech.”

Otherwise, she was encouraged by connecting with many good people and finding some like-minded people. “I met so many huggers; just about everyone. It was awesome.”

A study in perseverance

Considering all the obstacles Randol had to work through to get to this point—and to even make it to Washington, D.C.—her determination is apparent.

She ordered two new uniform shirts, and they arrived plain, but without her company’s logo and her name. “It’s all about presentation, and I wanted to look good and didn’t have time before the trip to exchange them,” Randol explained. “The alterations shop couldn’t help in time either, so I carefully cut off the logo and patches from another shirt and grabbed some items from the craft store to iron them on to a shirt that fit well. I was even complimented on my shirt in D.C., so I had to tell the story. Everyone at the table seemed to have a shirt story.”

Randol also had to get medical clearance to travel. She had recently suffered a broken rib, then went in for testing for other issues and really wanted a clear diagnosis before she left. Unfortunately, she did not get answers before she left, but her doctor said she could travel and provided assurance.

Then, she went to her hair appointment, only to find her hair stylist unexpectedly gone. “That seemed like the last straw—I didn’t get a diagnosis, didn’t get a haircut, didn’t get the uniform I wanted and so many things didn’t seem right. But, when these things happen, I fall back on what I was taught in the military: You have to complete the mission, even with all the obstacles.” 

So, true to that strong sense of perseverance and completion, Randol pursued every avenue to navigate roadblocks and prepare for the momentous weekend—right down to cutting her own bangs. “It turned out fine.” 

Looking back, and looking ahead

Reflecting on the award process to this point, does Randol still think it’s worth the effort? “Definitely. It hasn’t been easy, but worth it,” she said. “I want others to overcome their fears and jump in. I feel like I might have been intimidated if I knew beforehand about all that’s involved, but I’m taking away all the good—and there’s so much good. A speech can be fixed. That part of my weakness can be strengthened, and I have a team of people who care and can help me.”

Next up in the process is the award ceremony in May. Randol is looking forward to attending the ceremony with her husband and cheering on all of the finalists.

Until then, Randol’s focused on getting better and paddling the bayou by her house where she finds being on the water calming. She’ll also be ready to hear the stories from the people she meets. “That’s what I like about life, it’s about who you’re connecting with while you’re doing what you’re doing,” she concluded.

About the Author

BT staff