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“Empty mile” With Penny Bauder & Jennifer Wong

Convoy’s mission is transporting the world with endless capacity and zero waste. Our digital freight network helps shippers to reinvent their supply chain to be more efficient. Convoy’s business works to move millions of truckloads through our optimized, connected network of carriers, saving money for shippers, increasing earnings for drivers, and eliminating carbon waste for […]

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Convoy’s mission is transporting the world with endless capacity and zero waste. Our digital freight network helps shippers to reinvent their supply chain to be more efficient. Convoy’s business works to move millions of truckloads through our optimized, connected network of carriers, saving money for shippers, increasing earnings for drivers, and eliminating carbon waste for our planet.


As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Wong, Head of Sustainability, Convoy Inc.

Jennifer Wong is the Head of Sustainability at Convoy, Inc. She joined the company in 2018 as Head of Marketing. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Washington Foster School of Business teaching Entrepreneurial Marketing. She was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in Marketing and Advertising in 2018.


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

I graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Communications and landed in a startup in a marketing role. Over the years, I’ve grown my career in marketing — more on the technology and startup side — including with roles at Optify and Tune before joining Convoy. While marketing is still a major part of my role at Convoy, the overall mission of the company is closely tied to sustainability and eliminating carbon waste for our planet; therefore, it was only natural we adopted a key role in our company for a Head of Sustainability, which I took on.

What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?

Convoy’s mission is transporting the world with endless capacity and zero waste. Our digital freight network helps shippers to reinvent their supply chain to be more efficient. Convoy’s business works to move millions of truckloads through our optimized, connected network of carriers, saving money for shippers, increasing earnings for drivers, and eliminating carbon waste for our planet.

We use technology and data to solve problems of waste and inefficiency in the $800B trucking industry, which generates over 72M metric tons of wasted CO2 emissions from empty trucks. Shippers like Anheuser‑Busch, CHEP, and Waiākea trust Convoy to lower costs, increase logistics efficiency, and achieve environmental sustainability targets. Ultimately, we also work to improve the lives of three million truck drivers to help them keep their trucks full with fewer empty loads thereby maximizing their earning potential.

And reducing the “empty mile” waste of empty trucks is at the core of our mission.

Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?

Sustainability is core to Convoy’s mission. In 2015 we started the movement in efficient freight by using tech and data to solve problems of waste and inefficiency, which were rampant in the trucking industry. We created a digital freight network using machine learning and automation to efficiently connect shippers and carriers to create a more sustainable supply chain.

As our business grows, shippers and carriers reap environmental, social, and economic benefits. Consider the overall impact on the trucking industry:

· Shippers pay less, have higher profits, and ultimately eliminate waste.

· Truck drivers earn more, have fewer empty loads, are 15% safer than the industry average, and have a better quality of life.

· The resulting efficiency Convoy enables thereby helps to eliminate carbon emissions so there is less waste on the planet. We are very transparent with our carbon emission reduction and have a live counter on the homepage of our website. The carbon emissions counter shows the pounds of carbon emissions we have prevented from entering the atmosphere.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

When most people think about sustainability, they believe it is about going green or planting trees. It’s a bigger conversation than that.

Sustainability = environmental performance + social performance + economic performance

We need to change the perception of what businesses think about the value of “sustainability.” Everyone has been on board with sustainability, nodding heads in conference rooms wanting to ‘do good.’ But when it comes to execution, there is always hesitation and friction. Leaders now had to decide how much they wanted to spend to “be green” or “do good.”

In Convoy’s world of sustainability, sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive. Businesses can choose to make sustainable decisions while at the same time be profitable. You can have your cake and eat it too.

Because this win-win-win is core to our business, every business that works with Convoy experiences these benefits.

The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.

Lead by example. Integrate habits into everyday activities. Make it fun.

  1. Shop at local markets — shopping local reduces your carbon footprint. Stop in the local store for supplies instead of just ordering online.
  2. Make things last — teach kids that their belongings are not disposable. Instead of throwing away worn clothing, upcycle them into wash cloths or repair them.
  3. Play outside — being outside will create an appreciation for the planet.
  4. Read books — sustainable living is a big topic for kids but it’s one that’s important for them to understand. Spend time together reading about nature, recycling, environmentalism, and natural resources.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Keep things simple
  2. Everyone in the room wants to hear your opinion
  3. Make time to really get to know your people
  4. You’re not expected to know every answer
  5. Ask for feedback

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?

Throughout my life, my parents were serial entrepreneurs. For 25 years I watched them start several businesses including a toy store, a coffee cart, a nature store, and a kitchen store. After learning about the production of goods sold in their stores, they started a new business in the houseware industry; inventing, manufacturing, importing and distributing houseware goods direct to consumers and through distributors across the country.

Their endless curiosity, hard work, and resilience led to the creation and success of these businesses today. These are a few of the traits I stand on today when I think about adding the most value to a company and team.

You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Thoughtful consumption.

I don’t just mean the food we eat. Consumption includes all of the resources we use through the products we buy, the events we attend, and the fuel, water and electricity we use. The more resources we consume, the more damage we are inflicting on the environment.

A movement of thoughtful consumption means considering the social, economic and environmental impacts of our choices. We can consume less by finding the balance between what we need and what we want. Once we define our needs, we can determine just how much we need to fulfil our everyday functions and reduce our consumption

From relationships to how you swipe your credit card, be conscious of every decision that you make.

Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?

“You can never pay it back, but you can always pay it forward”

I’ve been fortunate to have great people in my life who have always been open to listening to my challenges and offering advice if I asked for it. I’ll never be able to repay the time that they invested in me. But when others ask me for time and advice, I always try to make time to pay it forward.

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

I am pretty easy to find online! These days I’m the most active on LinkedIn. It’s where I spend the most time checking news and connecting with peers.

This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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