By: Pam Hersh | Link to Original Article
Francesca Vollaro, who recently moved to Princeton, loves to move — so much so that she has gotten moving down to a science.
Her passion for moving has benefitted not only her own relocations, but also the moves of thousands of others. Fran’s latest career move occurred in April, when she — with three decades of professional experience in the “global mobility industry” — was appointed president and chief executive officer for Victory Worldwide Transportation, Inc., based in Jamesburg.
Her career path that led to this most recent move began decades ago with her teenage vocation as babysitter, a job requiring a lot of moving, as in chasing kids.
Upon graduating from Katherine Gibbs, her first job as a secretary with a moving company, Global International, was working for a man who knew how competent and reliable she was because she babysat for his son! A college degree in business administration and several executive leadership jobs in the mobility management field later, Fran has landed a “dream” job in the field as CEO at Victory.
My path crossed with Fran, thanks to the board chairman of Victory, James Simpson, with whom I had worked closely on an assortment of regional transit and transportation issues when he served as NJ Department of Transportation commissioner. Jim asked me if I could help Fran get to know the Princeton community. He also made a point to tell me that Fran was Francesca — as opposed to Francis. In a predominantly male industry, Victory’s new CEO was a woman. This was one piece of glass (as in ceiling) that his moving company clearly enjoyed breaking.
Since the mid-’90s, Fran has held senior management positions with relocation managing and moving service firms. “I never felt thwarted or held back by the fact that I was a woman,” she said. “Actually, I attribute my advancement to some terrific male mentors, who were very generous with their time and knowledge.”
One of those mentors was Jim Simpson, whom she worked with in the 1980s, as he was starting the International Division of Victory, then located in New York.
”I have found that the key to management success is treating people, male or female, fairly with respect, dignity and empathy for the fact that they have tough jobs,” Fran said. “I have had very few problems related to being the female boss of male employees… I truly respect the crew members who do the moving — they have the hardest jobs of all. They are the ones who are the public relations ambassadors for the company — they have to be affable, smart and trustworthy — and also they have to do the heavy physical work…”
Even though I associate tape, boxes, reams of packing paper, and loads of muscle with moving, Fran specializes in quality assurance, competitive procurement, innovative customer service and effective use of technology solutions. She loves the challenge in figuring out the most efficient way to move people’s belongings successfully from point A to point B. She recalled how she got hooked on the business when her first boss gave her the assignment of finding a way to move a household of items to an island off the coast of Michigan that reportedly allowed no cars on the island. With a lot of research, she determined that there were a few hours each week when cars/vans were permitted.
Now that she is the CEO, she intends to integrate community outreach into the company profile. “I want to make the company a part of the community. And I would like to be an active part in the community,” she said. A native of New York, Fran has experienced work-related relocations to northern and southern California, Denver, Washington, DC, and most recently, Houston.
”Actually as much as I love the moving profession, I feel so much at home in Princeton that I want to really invest myself in the community and stay here,” said Fran. She has started working with Dress for Success and would like to find a mentoring role that she and Victory could provide for women clients of Dress for Success.
Just because she does not want to move out of Princeton doesn’t mean she wants to stop moving in her spare time. She embraces yoga and enjoys ballroom and Latin dancing, which she did in pro-am competition for six years. Anyone can catch Fran’s moves on Friday nights at the Hinds Plaza as she dances under the stars at the Central Jersey Dance Society’s summertime community dance event.