Women in Leadership: Interview with Jodie Varner

As part of our Women in Leadership series, we want to highlight the professional challenges and career aspirations of the women in leadership roles at Fleet Response. In our final interview, we talked with Vice President of Client Engagement, Jodie Varner. Below she shares her professional journey, what helped her get to where she is now, and advice for women who would like to pursue leadership roles.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your professional journey. 

Varner: In college, I studied business and journalism. After graduation, I worked as an Office Manager, in donor & public relations at a Non-Profit Organization, and then started at Fleet Response as the Communications Coordinator.

One of the things that I have enjoyed about my professional journey at Fleet Response has been the ever-changing challenges and opportunities with a growing company. My role and focus changes nearly every 18 months and that has kept me growing, learning, and feeling like I have a “new job,” while keeping the same wonderful coworkers, team members, and clients.

Q: Who is your favorite female role model and why?

Varner: I really admire Tina Fey as a modern-day trailblazer for women. I read her book Bossy Pants at least once a year for its comedy and real-world view on some tough issues as a female in a professional setting.

Q: How have you balanced being a mother and a professional?

Varner: I make an conscious effort to try to spend time on all the relationships in my life.  Whether it’s work, children, spouses or family relationships, I try to be aware of where my energy is most needed.  I think any parent needs to balance where their time is spent and be deliberate about how they spend it.  There’s no way to sustain 100% of yourself in any one area of your life, but recognizing at any point in time where that energy should be – is what I believe is the balance.

Q: What do you think helped you get so far in your career?

Varner: I think not being afraid to try new things, constantly challenging myself, and taking myself out of my comfort zone has really helped me to grow and learn, and has also helped me in my career growth. I’ve also been fortunate to work with great people – both coworkers and clients – that have become mentors and role models for how to succeed in business.

Q: What’s unique about the service that Fleet Response provides?

Varner: Our services are unique because of our people.  We show up every day wanting to do a good job for ourselves, for each other, and for our customers. Fleet Response IS like a family, we have problems just like other companies. But we choose to stick together to solve them and challenge each other to be better. We never settle and we always are looking for ways to help each other grow, learn and succeed. I think that our clients take the same approach. They challenge us every day and are a huge contributor to our success and growth as an organization.

Q: What advice would you give to women who want to be in leadership roles?

Varner: My main advice would be to stay open to new challenges and do not limit yourself. Sometimes failures at one point are the lesson that you need to learn for the next great success. Frankly, I never knew if I wanted to manage people, I always liked ‘doing my own work.’ And now, being a leader and helping others grow, is something that I am very proud of.

Q: What has you most excited about the future?

Varner: I’m most excited about the growth Fleet Response will experience. I’m looking forward to future milestones as an organization and right now, really getting our new headquarters built, so we can all be together in-person again!