Leading the Runway and Lifting Others Higher with UPS
By Alexis James
Photography by Brittany Paul
“I don’t ever want to be stagnant; I always want to continue to grow. Every day I challenge myself to learn something new.” -Samantha Lopez.
It takes only minutes into a conversation with Samantha Lopez before you understand that she’s an extraordinary one-of-a-kind woman and an inspiration to those who get the opportunity to be around her. As you walk into her executive office, she greets you with a smile, and you immediately feel welcomed. Looking around, you see several awards hanging on her walls, evidence of her hard work, and it appears that all her success has come effortlessly. With a chai latte (with soy) in hand, she begins to give insight into her remarkable story.
“I started working for UPS in 2005, while I was in college, as a seasonal employee, and I helped drivers deliver packages for the Holiday Season.” Samantha acknowledges that it was a highly male-dominated field, and at the time, it was the most demanding job that she had held in her life.
“There would be days where I would go home and cry. And I wanted to quit, but I continued to work hard and do my best. Thankfully my parents instilled in me a strong work ethic, and from them, I learned that it doesn’t matter what job you’re doing; you do your best and give 100 percent.” In fact, Samantha’s mom first told her to apply to UPS and encouraged her not to quit. “And it’s true, you do the best job that you can, and eventually hard work and dedication will pay off. Over time, I built relationships with my peers and managers and gained their trust. And then I became the go-to person to handle day-to-day service and dispatch issues within the operation.”
After holding her position as a part-time Package Center Supervisor for seven years, Samantha knew it was time for a change and began to seek out new opportunities. Unexpectedly a job at the UPS Airport in McAllen, Texas, opened. “My expertise was in dispatching drivers and managing customers. I didn’t know anything about our cargo airline operations, and I didn’t know if I should apply for the job.” Fortunately, she overcame her doubts and took a step that would “prepare her for takeoff!”
“After I applied for that first promotion and got the job, my career took off, and everything began to fall into place.”
Samantha is now an expert in airline operations and has continued to excel in her career. When asked to describe her role, she smiles and says, “I’m the director of operations for UPS Airlines in South Texas, which means I manage the daily operations of an airline and supervise the logistics of packages.” An extremely modest answer to describe her prestigious role.
Samantha holds an executive position at UPS overseeing the South Texas UPS Air Operations. She runs the operations of six airport gateways in Texas: San Antonio, Austin, Houston, El Paso, McAllen, and Laredo; she’s responsible for over 500 employees and supervises the logistics of approximately 135 thousand domestic and international packages daily.
Samantha credits her success to the people who first believed in her and who wanted to see her succeed. “Sometimes we think that we don’t have what it takes, so you need someone to believe in you. If I didn’t have anyone to believe in me, I wouldn’t be where I am now. We have to lift each other up.” She also encourages women to believe in themselves, “I love inspiring women to go after what seems impossible for them. Whatever you put your mind to, you can accomplish. Once you take the first risk, the next one becomes easier, so don’t doubt yourself and trust that you have what it takes.”
Sitting confidently behind her desk, fully engaged in the conversation, Samantha reflects on the full circle of her career. “At nineteen, I wouldn’t believe where I’m at now, but I didn’t get here overnight. It took a lot of sweat, tears, and support.”