by Nori Gale
WEX Women Who Make a Difference
Last week we published a piece to launch our tribute to the women of WEX during Women’s History Month. The theme was around an Amy Poehler quote,
“I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading.”
This week, both WEXers we’re featuring, Stephania Goddard and Jessica Fought, share what makes them love working at WEX, what motivates them, and what they think about the word “bossy.”
Stephania Goddard, Working Magic for WEX’s Truck Fleet (OTR) Customers
Stephania Goddard’s warmth and effusiveness make her immediately endearing. She’s a clear communicator, delivering her thoughts in an open and engaging manner. Her candor, optimism, and kind nature are disarming–it’s hard to imagine anyone could avoid falling under her spell.
Goddard has worked in WEX’s Nashville location for over five years. She started as a temp in inside sales and then was quickly promoted to an account manager position. She is currently an OTR Strategic Account Manager for WEX. She provides operational support to a portfolio of top premiere WEX OTR carriers for their fuel card program(s). OTR stands for Over The Road which is an industry term referring to a fleet of trucks on the road transporting products or services. As she puts it, with a smile and a wink, “I’m just a regular account manager, keeping these trucks on the road.”
A self-proclaimed people person, Goddard spends her days interacting with WEX customers. She speaks affectionately about the relationships she has formed with administrators at various trucker companies, people she deals with on a daily basis. Goddard takes pleasure in retelling the stories she hears. It’s clear that she has built long-term friendships with some of her favorite customers.
Goddard worked at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and School of Nursing for 15 years prior to coming to WEX. Joining WEX meant coming into a business that was totally foreign to her, which made her the perfect candidate for WEX’s mentorship program. Goddard has been an avid participant and has worked with two mentors. “Tom Wagner was a mentor at WEX Fleet One and he was an EVP so he taught me about all the things I needed to know about the truck driving industry because I didn’t come from a transportation background.” Tom Wagner mentored her for a year and then Dan Simpson stepped in. Simpson mentored Goddard on WEX as a whole: teaching her about all the different lines of business that we have and how the credit systems work.
There have been many women who’ve inspired Goddard over the course of her career, including WEX CEO Melissa Smith. Goddard has discussed work-related topics with our CEO and also chatted about a shared passion: where they get their shoes. Goddard finds it remarkable that Smith clearly truly cares about those who are on the front lines for WEX working hard every day for the company. For Goddard, Smith is a big part of what makes WEX a unique and special place to work.
Another source of inspiration for Goddard is Dr. Elizabeth Weiner at Vanderbilt University. Weiner was a mentor to Goddard and taught her that as a woman in the workforce she had a voice. During the time Goddard supported Weiner she was given the opportunity to learn and grow as an employee because Weiner valued her opinion and included her in discussions around University policy and plans. Goddard felt empowered and heard, giving her more confidence to value her own opinions and insights. As a result, she became more forthcoming and a bigger contributor than she had been in the past.
In her career, Goddard wants to make a difference both nationally and internationally. She is constantly looking for the opportunity to be of service to others in part because she sees service as essential for true fulfillment. Says Goddard, “I always strive to be a part of something bigger than myself.” Working for WEX’s trucking fleet business, Goddard feels this desire to help is consistently fulfilled. Our truckers deliver the most important necessities, from grocery store inventory to medicine, and other hospital supplies. Goddard puts it in direct terms, “18 wheelers are very important now because they’re on the ground and stores are waiting for them to get restocked. This plays a really large part in making sure that people are taken care of and we’re saving lives and that truckers are on the road and they’re trying to deliver services, food, cattle, and whatever’s needed to keep our economy and our nation going. WEX is helping get products we need back on shelves around the world. We’re hauling cattle, medications, everything.”
She loves her job at WEX because as she puts it, “I work for a company that values my contribution to the company and consistently shows they are interested in their employees, customers and the community at large.”
Outside of her work for WEX, community work and family are her two priorities. She says what makes her happy is “Making other people’s day better …brightening their day even if it’s just a piece of chocolate I provide for my colleagues on a regular basis.” She goes on to say, “When I talk about community work I talk about anything that’s going to impact somebody’s life for the better.” She focuses her community work right where she spends the majority of her time, in the workplace. She is a quiet force behind the scenes and focuses primarily on young people entering the workforce at WEX. She enjoys “listening to young people and giving them sound advice to help them be successful. To me, that’s a community service. I help to engage them when they’re feeling like they’re not being successful and remind them about all the good things about working for WEX and all the tools we have. And reminding these young people that are coming in that you can succeed if you take advantage of what your company is offering and WEX is offering a lot. A lot of education. A lot of caring.”
When asked if she had one piece of advice for her 18-year-old self Goddard responded, “Stay true to me, always pay it forward, be grateful for all the opportunities I have been afforded in life and always leave a positive impression on all that I meet.” She goes on to say, “When I say stay true to myself I mean I am not changing my core values or who I am as a person to meet the needs of somebody personally. So in the workplace, if there’s a company change or environmental change I’m still Stephania. If something is funny to me, it’s funny. If something is worth fighting for I’m going to speak up. When I feel like it‘s necessary for me to have a voice and I have information that may be of value to other people I will speak up, even if it’s not popular. That’s what I mean by staying true to who I am and what I believe.”
We talked about the Amy Poehler quote and Goddard had some thoughts about the word “bossy.” As Goddard puts it, “Most of the time when a person hears “bossy” they think of it in a negative way. I see bossy as standing up and taking leadership and leading when it’s necessary. When others are not willing to do that.” She goes on to describe her upbringing and shared, “I was trained very much to stick to my guns if I believed in something and that it was important to just hold tight to that. All through my entire career, I have not changed my core values or my approach to things and that’s not always popular nor easy. I’m very passionate about the things that I do and sometimes people take passion and mistake it for too much assertiveness but I see passion as just caring. Caring about the issue. Caring about the impact. Caring about people. Caring about change. I would be considered one of those people that are very passionate.”
Goddard’s parents taught her from a young age to stick with what she believed in and stay true to herself. They also placed a high value on education. They were always open to listen to her, no matter what she brought to them to discuss. “My parents instilled in me that I could do anything I wanted to do. They also taught me that if I wanted to better myself I could make an impact through building on my education and knowledge. They had enough in them to know that life could be better for me if I just opened my eyes, looked in front of me, reached out when I needed help, took advantage of every opportunity and was always willing to listen.”
One important piece of advice her mother gave her that she always comes back to is this: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then get out of that room. Because you need to be in a space where you can always be learning and bettering yourself.” Over the course of her career, Goddard has pushed herself to always be learning and also always giving to those around her.
Jessica Fought: A Fire Chief’s Daughter Taught Grit at a Young Age
Jessica Fought works in our Nashville offices and has been with WEX for six years. Fought is a Director of Implementation at WEX as well as a consummate project manager and general problem solver. Like Goodard, Fought works with WEX’s Truck Fleet (OTR) line of business. Three different teams report to Fought: the onboarding team, the account set-up team for partner accounts, and an inside implementation team that handles onboarding all of WEX’s OTR units ranging from a company with one truck to companies with as many as 250 trucks. Some of Fought’s teams work actively with customers in mid-market size businesses. Fought’s large inside implementation team deals with WEX’s more sizable customers and all the custom integrations with which WEX engages.
Fought told me a little about what inspires her to come to work every day, “I feel lucky to spend time with the amazing individuals that I work with. They surprise and challenge me daily.”
Outside work, Fought loves to spend her free time watching Ohio State Football. She grew up in Ohio and went to Ohio State so she has always been a huge fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. She lives in Nashville now but tries to make it up to Columbus a couple of times a year to get to games. “Ohio does not disappoint when it comes to our football fans.”
Fought is also a devoted fan of Indy car racing. This passion came to her by way of her father, who has been into car racing for as long as she can remember. Soon after graduating from college, Fought and her dad went to an Indy car race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. She loved it. They made it a tradition to go together and she went on to attend races around the country. She’s been to Alabama, Detroit, and Ohio for races and hopes to get to some in Texas and Wisconsin soon as well. “It’s something that my dad introduced me to and I just continue to love it.”
In a similar vein, Fought values a good concert. Her first concert was the Indigo Girls and her favorite band to see is the Dave Matthews Band which, truth be told, she’s seen about ten times and says is a fabulous band to see in concert.
When she’s not at concerts, games, or races, Fought loves to cook and spends a lot of her free time in the kitchen coming up with new recipes. Her paternal grandmother introduced Fought to the joys of cooking. To this day, Fought is inspired by her. “She cooked every single night: main dinners with meat and potatoes. I cook anything. I’m not a baker, I’m more of a dinner/lunch type cook and I love it. And on the weekends I spend a lot of time doing that.”
Fought’s father has been a major role model in her life and taught her hard work, honesty, and integrity. “He led by example. He is a retired fire chief for the City of Toledo which is a city in the Northwest Ohio area. He dealt with situations day in and day out that most of us, thankfully, don’t ever have to deal with and it’s kind of just one of those lessons where even though your job is hard and it may seem like sometimes there may not be a solution you just keep looking for it and you keep plugging along and it’ll work itself out. And it’s pretty true advice really. There are times when we may all feel at our wit’s end and can’t figure out a solution to a problem and literally if you just keep going you’ll find it. And the other part of that is just that hard work pays off. You’re putting in long hours and eventually, you’ll be recognized and eventually, that will pay off for you.” She applies her Dad’s advice to her work for WEX and is known for her integrity and her stick-to-itiveness.
If Fought had one piece of advice for her 18-year-old self, it would be to embrace change, and don’t be in a hurry to grow up too fast: “I lived a pretty sheltered life in a suburb outside of Toledo and it’s a new eye-opening experience when you turn 18 and you go to college and you learn that everyone is different. That’s a lesson that you learn coming from a sheltered life: Embrace everybody’s differences. Embrace change.”
The other piece of advice she’d give herself is to stop and live your life. “I still have issues with that sometimes, just kind of move, move, move and not stop and look around. Take everything in and enjoy beautiful things. Sometimes that’s hard for me to do too – I always have my head down. It’s hard-wired. That’s just honestly the way I was wired.” While that kind of drive can work well for a woman to find success in her work, Fought recognizes that it’s important for her to find a balance and allow herself time away from work enjoying things in the world outside the office. “I really try to enjoy time outside of work. I try to enjoy trips. I do like to travel and I do love to go to different places that I’ve never been to before. Take it all in, sit down, and enjoy it. Because if you don’t, it just flies by and then all of a sudden you’re back at work. Just forcing yourself to slow down, and put your phone down, and enjoy the time that you do have outside work. Get outside, take a hike, whatever it may be. Get yourself out of your norm.”
We discussed Poehler’s “bossy” quote and Fought smiled, “I am sure that my two younger brothers would tell you that I was bossy.” She describes herself as always having been pretty strong-willed and determined. “I love the sense of accomplishment. This is how I would describe myself in the sense of being “bossy”.” I asked if she ever felt that others discouraged her assertive streak, “I have honestly never felt like that. I have worked for some amazing leaders that encouraged me to be me.” Talking to Fought, I felt a renewed gratitude for the leaders out there encouraging bossy women to take charge and power forward.
Jessica Fought and Stephania Goddard are two more examples of truly remarkable, thoughtful women working for WEX and whom we are so fortunate to have on our team!
Join WEX and Be a Part of It
If you’re interested in working for a growing and global organization that puts employees first and employs some bossy women who are passionate about what they do, please visit WEX’s career page.