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Ashley Dellinger and Lisa Catania of OneRail: “Every day is an exciting new project”

Catania: Stay true to your principals, your mission, and your values, and reinforce them daily through positive actions. Dellinger: While everyone should be held accountable to their goals in the same manner, everyone should not be managed the same. Learn what makes your people tick. Some employees thrive from praise. Some thrive off of being told […]

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Catania: Stay true to your principals, your mission, and your values, and reinforce them daily through positive actions.

Dellinger: While everyone should be held accountable to their goals in the same manner, everyone should not be managed the same. Learn what makes your people tick. Some employees thrive from praise. Some thrive off of being told something is impossible. Some need more oversight. Some are lone wolves. Manage people the way that brings out the best in them, and you will see the team thrive as a whole when you manage them individually.


As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing the Women in Leadership at OneRail — Lisa Catania and Ashley Dellinger.

Lisa Catania is a Founder of OneRail and the Vice President of Client Services. Lisa and her husband, Bill Catania, founded OneRail at their kitchen table when they discovered a disconnect in the logistics space. OneRail is changing the way shippers ship, the way couriers transport, and the way delivery exceptions are managed.

Lisa began her career in New York/New Jersey with The May Department Stores Company, ultimately joining the retail management team of Lord & Taylor in Freehold, New Jersey. While on “hiatus” at home raising her 3 children, she opened a RetroFitness franchise location. The combination of her retail and franchise experience have helped guide the creation and growth of OneRail.

Ashley Dellinger is the Vice President of Sales at OneRail. Dellinger has been at the forefront of success for multiple successful tech startups, most notably UberMedia. Dellinger has also worked for large corporations such as Raycom Media (now Gray Television) and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

In 2019, after over a decade of success in advertising and marketing technologies, she made a career transition into supply chain logistics software. The move came at a time where both the final mile and supply chain desperately needed a solution for its broken system. Since her transition in 2019 the effects of COVID-19 have completely shattered the supply chain, creating an exciting opportunity for a solution to mend the broken pieces. In August of 2020, Dellinger joined the team at OneRail, and she has not looked back.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Dellinger: For me, it was being part of a generation that was at the forefront of disruption that created a desire for me. I was with three start-ups prior to OneRail, and each time, I was in the hiring round just past the ground floor. I have always wanted to be part of the chaos that occurs at the beginning, and I definitely got what I wished for! While I’ve only been with OneRail since August of 2020, I actually worked with the team in a partnership capacity while I was with my previous company. I was fascinated by what they were doing.

As I was leaving that company, I sent my departure-hand-off emails to my clients and partners, one of which was one OneRail. Less than 5 minutes later, I received a text from Bill Catania, Founder & CEO. Two days later, I was officially on the OneRail team.

Lisa: That’s a true story! I was right next to Bill when he called her that Friday night, and when it was my turn to interview her the following week, I just said, “I’ve heard everything I need to know about you. You’re clearly a fit. What questions do you have for me?”

Dellinger: I really expected Lisa to be the hardest on me in the interview process. That was an incredible example of female support and Lisa’s leadership. She trusted her team’s feedback, she was upfront, and she didn’t try to put me through the wringer just to do it. Though, there wouldn’t be a OneRail path for me at all if it weren’t for Lisa’s path.

That’s a great story! Lisa, please tell us more about your path and how you got to OneRail.

Catania: 100% unintentionally. I made the conscious decision going into 2017 to do something new and outside of my comfort zone. Although I went to college, I never graduated. I decided to tackle that seemingly “missing piece”. I was accepted to UCF and was to start in the Fall of 2017. That summer, I started “helping” my husband with a “little business idea” that he had. The next thing we knew, we were both working 60+ hours a week creating what would become OneRail. The best piece of advice I could give anyone is not to be hung up on a “plan”. Be open to the pivot. Those moments are life changing.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

Catania: In December of 2018, we were operating a very lean start up. We had only raised a small amount of Angel funding, and as all startups know, it never lasts as long as you project. It was holiday time, and we weren’t going to make payroll. Bill had already liquidated our stock accounts, and we had placed every spare penny into operating. The last personal items of value were my Louis Vuitton bags. I sold them on Ebay to make payroll. Bill and I were always, even in the darkest moments, 100% committed to our company and our employees. I think that is a big part of what has gotten us to where we are today.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Catania: It wasn’t a mistake per se, but it was funny. We started working with a major rideshare company, utilizing their network to complete deliveries for us — they had millions of drivers. We would dispatch the delivery via API to their driver app and have their drivers pick up the package. Upon arrival they would call to tell us that the “package” could walk out. It took a while for them to become accustomed to picking up an item instead of a human. We have brought on several other crowdsource partners since; we have APIs in place to pass special instructions, pick up directions, etc.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Dellinger: II think the best companies are created when the founders have intentionally created a company that solves a problem that they have personally experienced.. That is exactly what Lisa and Bill did with OneRail.

What I think makes us stand out is that we are simplifying an incredibly complex set of problems. We are connecting supply and demand. Companies have items that need to be delivered, and we connect those deliveries to drivers who are willing to deliver them. Of course, now there is a highly complex tech stack and management program behind it, but looking back at the beginning, the solution to the problem was there all along. Lisa & Bill had the vision to harness it, and they turned it into a business.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Catania: Every day is an exciting new project. Our platform is constantly evolving to meet our customer’s needs. Not a day goes by where a current or potential client says, “Can the platform do X?” or “Does the app do Y?” If it doesn’t, it will. The OneRail platform took its shape through listening to our customers’ problems. We don’t tell our customers what they need — they tell us their ultimate goals, and we help them get there — either with existing product capabilities and/or brand-new features based on their specific use cases.

Dellinger: Agreed. We learn from our customers and their needs. As to what we are working on now, what we can share right now is that we have some really incredible capabilities coming soon. David Daeschler, our CTO, is truly one of the most brilliant and talented people I have ever met. He and his team are working on several enhancements that will make a significant impact in our space.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

Catania: To be satisfied with the status quo of women in STEM as it stands today would indicate being satisfied with a lack of representation of an entire gender across countless industries. STEM fields are inherently viewed as masculine, causing women’s skills in those areas to be underestimated. Combine a predisposed doubt in yourself with a lack of female role models, and it is no wonder that women make up only 28% of the workforce in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math as of 2019. While we do see that percentage increase annually, there certainly are changes that could be made. I think we need to begin by breaking the stereotype that pushes young girls away from these subjects.

Dellinger: I agree with Lisa.

To add, I just mentioned David, our CTO. He and I had a long discussion a few weeks back about the importance of inclusion and diversity on our teams. We just doubled in company size over the past six weeks. We take it to heart. He just hired a woman for our VP of Engineering role. The buzz about her in the office from a currently all-male team was awesome. When she was flying in to interview, I overheard all of them saying things like, “Oh, she’s the rock star candidate, right!?”, and “I’m really looking forward to having a woman on the team! I think she will be a great addition!” I love hearing that kind of feedback in our office. As far as changes, I would like to see more women apply. I would say less than 10% of our applicants are women. If anyone has any feedback on how to change that, please send them our way!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

Catania: In my opinion, I think the biggest challenge that women in STEM face is “double competence.” Women consistently feel immense amounts of pressure to prove their professional worth. One of the differences between men and women in STEM and Tech is that men do not generally fall victim to the assumption that you just won’t be able to keep up. Highly qualified women often question their abilities in their disciplines. Addressing this problem is not something that is individualized by any means. Eliminating the controversy or taboo surrounding being a working woman and a mother, the lack of female mentors, and even simply female co-workers would all help to address this issue.

Dellinger: I have done hundreds of interviews over the past month. I was taken aback at the lack of awareness by some of the candidates. In one interview, a man dropped a few company names, then followed that up with, “Your counterpart, Brian (Brian Divelbiss, EVP of Commercial Solutions) would know those companies.” It was a video interview, and I calmly asked him, “Why would you think Brian would be aware of those companies, and I would not?” I could immediately see on his face that he saw the problem. He stammered through some explanation that it was because Brian has been in the industry longer. I asked which industry he was referring to, and he waffled for an answer.

To get to the point, I think as women, we need to speak up when we feel slighted. Dig deeper and find out why someone thinks a specific way. That candidate may have been able to say, “I noticed on LinkedIn that Brian worked at Inmar previously, and I know X-company was an Inmar client.” Now granted, that didn’t happen, but if I hadn’t asked the question for more context and assumed the slight was because I’m female, that would have been my error in judgement.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?

Catania: A “myth” I would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or tech is that success in STEM requires “natural” talent. In reality, success, in any field, requires effort- a lot of it. The misconception that girls are not naturally adept in STEM can often create a negative feeling toward this area of business. The truth is that hard work equates to success.

Dellinger: I think the “myth” I would like to dispel is that we cannot talk about someone’s gender. For me personally, as I would never speak for every woman, I want to be asked for my opinion “as a woman” more often. If someone on my team were to say, “I need a woman’s opinion on this”, I would welcome that. We should be embracing our differences and using them towards the common goal. I wish more people would ask questions. My door and inbox are always open to anyone who wants to ask sincere questions for the purpose of learning and growing.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Dellinger:

  1. Speak up but do it professionally. Don’t be afraid to pull someone aside after a meeting and ask why they did or said something, but it needs to come from a place of wanting to understand, not accusation.
  2. Find a mentor of the opposite sex at another company. We all need someone with no skin in the game to help us think through situations. Talking through scenarios with someone you respect before acting is invaluable.
  3. Be a resource. The open-door policy seems cliché at times, but only if you don’t really mean it. If you truly have that mindset, you’ll be pleased with the impact it can have on your company culture.
  4. Be vulnerable. Ask for feedback. Listen to it. Learn from it. Act on it.
  5. Be you. Who shows up at your interview is the you who is being hired. Make sure that person is the real you. You don’t want to spend the rest of your career being a chameleon to fit in. You’ll be miserable.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

Catania: Take the time to learn your people. Find out their “favorites,” talk to their closest work friend and then surprise them with an award for going above and beyond. In my experience, it’s about learning the person. The thoughtfulness of giving an employee a gift card to their favorite restaurant or nail salon is worth more than the actual cost of the card. These are the differences that show our employees we care about them as people — not just how much productivity they provide to the company.

Dellinger: Praise in public; criticize in private. The praise is great; who doesn’t like praise? But we need to focus more on the criticism, in private. The goal of criticism is to provide feedback to create change, not to shame or to embarrass someone. It should be done in a private place where the individual can assess the information and ask questions comfortably.

You are responsible for both your team’s successes and failures. If you aren’t providing feedback to a team member that needs to improve, you can’t expect them to change, and that fault lies on you as a leader.

What advice would you give to other women leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Catania: Stay true to your principals, your mission, and your values, and reinforce them daily through positive actions.

Dellinger: While everyone should be held accountable to their goals in the same manner, everyone should not be managed the same. Learn what makes your people tick. Some employees thrive from praise. Some thrive off of being told something is impossible. Some need more oversight. Some are lone wolves. Manage people the way that brings out the best in them, and you will see the team thrive as a whole when you manage them individually.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Catania: Without a doubt, my husband and co-founder, Bill. It sounds cliché, but we are the perfect team. Quite frankly, there are very few people who could do what we do and be successful. He is the one who knows what I am capable of and pushes me to do it — most of the time before I realize it myself. This goes back to the earlier comment about being open to change and deviating from the “plan”. I had no intention of ever remarrying but that changed when I met Bill. He is my other half, and we are an incredible team, in and out of the office. With six kids between us, it seemed like starting a company was a better idea than adding sibling number seven, and then OneRail was born.

Dellinger: Of course, the OneRail team — Bill, Lisa, Jeff Flowers — our CFO/COO, David, Brian, everyone. Do we disagree? Absolutely. That’s what families do. Like a family, we are all working towards the common goal.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Catania: OneRail has given me the team and the financial ability to support many great efforts. This past year we placed 6th out of 195 teams in Orlando for the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Walk. Together we were able to raise over 7,000 dollars for a great cause that affects so many of us. By virtue of our growth, we are helping to change the business landscape in Orlando with a hyper growth company that is perpetually hiring. We look forward to being number one next year!

Dellinger: Most recently, I joined the Board of Directors for a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called Daisy Chain in the greater Denver area. I met Susan Parker, the founder, through Taproot. I listened to what she wants to do, and knew I had to get involved. Daisy Chain is a horse sanctuary that utilizes equine therapy with underprivileged or at-risk youth, special needs individuals, and veterans.

You are women of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Dellinger: I haven’t even talked to Lisa about this yet, so she’s hearing it for the first time right now, but once I relocate to Orlando, I would like to set up a monthly Saturday class for young women. In the classes, they’ll be able to learn more about each department at OneRail. Marketing, Sales, Product, Web Development, etc. I think early exposure to all sides of the business would be a great way for them to learn early what kind of career path they may want.

A lot of the business principles that we would teach them are applicable to everyday life as well. Areas such as conflict resolution, time management, business etiquette, and more aren’t just for business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Catania: “Life isn’t about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself.”

For me, this represents the ability to learn and to do, and really be anything you want. I spent most of my life with a technical aptitude of zero. I am now the founder of a tech startup because I put in the time and effort to become that person — to learn what I needed to know to succeed.

Dellinger: “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.”

Never be complacent. I have had my fair share of curve balls thrown at me, and I like reminding myself that there is always room for growth and improvement, both professionally and personally.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Dellinger: Sarah Thomas, NFL Official. I read every interview she does. She has a confidence that doesn’t waiver, but it never nears arrogance. Pharmaceutical sales by day and NFL Official as well? She fascinates me; I would love to meet her. In one interview she was asked if she has fans. She said she didn’t know, but she hopes there are women who are fans of the situation. Well, I am a huge fan of both.

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