The story of FedEx’s First Black Woman CEO

By Miracle Nwankwo

Years ago in America, a young single mother went searching for a regular day job to support herself and her six-week-old baby. She joggled between work, motherhood and night classes and finally found a steady 8-5 shift as a receptionist.

This woman is Ramona Hood, who assumed the role of president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical, on 1 January 2020. Hood is the first African-American woman to take on that position in the company’s 49-year history.

Hood was 19 when she started her career as a receptionist at Roberts Express, which later became FedEx Custom Critical. All she aimed for was a consistent job to help ease her financial burden but with time she became pretty intentional, purposeful, enthusiastic and dedicated with gaining experience throughout the company. 12 months later, she moved up the corporate ladder to the safety department. Today, Hood oversees the FedEx Custom Critical executive leadership team and is responsible for the performance and strategic direction of the company.

FedEx Custom Critical a subsidiary of FedEx Logistics, is an Ohio-based company which provides time-critical shipping services. Annually, the company delivers hundreds of thousands of shipments, specializing in same-day and overnight shipping.

Over the years, Hood’s career path continued to evolve, from one role to the other in operations, safety, sales and more, allowing her to see how FedEx Custom Critical’s different pieces work together.

She held various executive leadership positions at FedEx Custom Critical and FedEx Supply Chain, and as time passed, she stood out from her peers through innovative and strategic ideas which she often proffered to the company that resulted into better ways of doing business. One such idea was piloting a program that allowed FedEx Custom Critical employees to work from home in the early 2000s.

Hood also impacted on the lives of others, setting very high standards for herself, her team and anything put under her charge. Hood’s leadership characteristics and values are rare, and they are rooted in her past and current roles at FedEx Custom Critical and FedEx Supply Chain.  

She is one of the thought leaders who prioritize the importance of seeking mentorship and having a board of directors. Throughout her career, her board of directors and built-in mentorship team spoke on her behalf about career opportunities, which has shaped her into a better leader and future CEO.

Hood continued to pursue education while raising a family. She earned a business management degree from Walsh University, an Executive MBA from Case Western Reserve University. She currently resides in Ohio with her daughters, Mariah and Kayla.

When Hood started with then-Roberts Express, the company’s primary focus was expedited shipments. That industry catered to the automotive industry’s “just-in-time” production nature, but Custom Critical has diversified overtime “to really go beyond that,” Hood said.

Today, with a fleet of over 1,400 vehicles and access to FedEx Express cargo aeroplanes for shipping through the sky, the company’s portfolio ranges from the expedited ground and air shipping to secure transportation offerings and white-glove services for shipments needing extra care.

In the past years, Hood has been recognized for her outstanding excellence in leadership, responsibility, and passion-driven results in the industry.

She was commended by the Greater Akron Chamber with the 30 for the Future award (2010) and acknowledged by Sales & Marketing Executives International with a Distinguished Sales & Marketing Award (2013).

Having assumed the position of CEO, Hood dedicated the early days of her tenure to strategizing her first-year plan. Within her first 90 days, she created a direct interactive session with an intention to gain useful insight from employees, customers, and independent contractors driving FedEx Custom Critical. This was done through her “Ramona Roundtables,” which she is wrapping up this month. Hood has been involved with talking to small groups of employees. However, Hood didn’t anticipate incorporating COVID-19 plans into her first 90 days as CEO of FedEx Custom Critical.

“The next thing I’ll be doing is going out and spending time with customers and independent contractors,” Hood said. “I’m defining that as my ‘listen and learn tour.’ ”

The journey to the top requires a lot but it takes an amazon like Ramona Hood to get there.

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