Being vulnerable can be a good thing, says Judy McReynolds, president and chief executive officer of ArcBest Corp. of Fort Smith, the parent company of ABF Freight. Earlier this year, she was named Business Executive of the Year at the 34th annual Arkansas Business of the Year awards banquet, the second consecutive woman so honored by a panel of independent judges.

The Work Wife snagged a few minutes of her busy schedule to talk industry challenges, a people-first mentality and the power of vulnerability.

How did you wind up in the trucking industry?

I began my career in the field of public accounting, which led to a client base made up of trucking companies. That’s how I learned about the industry and came to work for ArcBest. I now have over 25 years with the company; I stepped into the role of ArcBest president and CEO in 2010 and was elected chairman of the board in 2016.


What do you see as your biggest challenge as an executive, and has this changed over time?

The biggest challenge we’re currently facing is an unpredictable economy. This isn’t a new challenge, but navigating the global supply chain has become increasingly important and more complex. At ArcBest, we’re prepared to help customers adapt and pivot with solutions to meet their needs, regardless of what’s going on in the market.


Is there anything you wish you'd done differently early in your career?

Trusted my decision-making instincts earlier in my career.


What are the pros and cons of working for a big, publicly traded company compared with a smaller, private company?

No matter the size of the company, people are what matters. I really enjoy seeing the impact our teams have across our 250-plus campuses and service centers. Within ArcBest, our people are truly the heart of our success. Their expertise and dedication are what make us an industry leader — our employees care about the business and go the extra mile to get the best results for our customers.


What's one lesson you've had to learn over and over?

As a leader, being vulnerable can drive growth — you’re more open to new ideas and approaches, and it allows you to take healthy risks. The outcomes make you stronger, not weaker.


How do you decompress?

I greatly enjoy traveling with my family on vacation. It’s the best way to refocus and recharge. I also enjoy my exercise routine, which includes yoga and walking.


Want more? Read our convo with last year's winner Heather Nelson of Seal Solar.


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