Ramona Hood went from a receptionist to a CEO at FedEx, a feat that very few can boast of anywhere

BY Preta Peace Namasaba April 19, 2024 2:37 PM EDT
Ramona Hood. Photo credit: Ramona Hood

At 19 years old, Ramona Hood was a single mother in search of employment. She needed a job that could provide for her six-week-old daughter and allow her to take night classes. To transition from retail, Hood landed a position as a receptionist for Roberts Express, which later became FedEx Custom Critical. Working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., she had achieved the stability she desperately sought.

Little did she know, that she would one day be at the helm of the leading North American transportation provider.

“I was a 19-year-old single mom, so my focus at that time really was around having a job with constant hours. It was many years later that I started to focus on a career and recognized the world of FedEx and how big it was. I decided to really be intentional with my career, and that focus has driven me to the place I’m in today,” Hood explained how she climbed the FedEx corporate ladder.

After only 12 months as a receptionist, Hood scaled up the corporate ladder to the safety department. Over time, she became more intentional and purposeful about gaining experience in the company. From the safety department, she ventured into sales, operations, sourcing, marketing, and other roles. She took the positions of Manger (Operations), Senior Manager (Operations)of FedEx Custom Critical, as well as the Sales and Senior Manager of FedEx Truckload Brokerage.

Realizing that the company was enormous and there was an opportunity for growth, Hood made known her interest in leadership. Her innovative ideas and strategic insight soon distinguished her from the crowd. She developed remarkable business approaches that enabled the team’s growth. Notably, in the early 2000s she initiated a pilot program that allowed Custom Critical employees to work from home. Utilizing the available technology, she created a process where individuals operating call centers could work remotely.

Whilst climbing up the leadership ranks, Hood continued her pursuit of tertiary education. She earned a business management degree from Walsh University and an executive MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. Henceforth, Hood attained promotions into senior leadership. She served as Managing Director of FedEx Truckload Brokerage, Vice President of Transportation Management of FedEx Supply Chain, and Vice President, Operations, Strategy, & Planning at FedEx Custom Critical.

In 2020, Ramona Hood took over as President and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical. She is the first African-American woman to lead a FedEx operating company in its 49-year history. A testament to Hood’s exceptional leadership capabilities, her predecessor Virginia Addicott advocated for her appointment. As FedEx Custom Critical CEO, she is responsible for maintaining the strategic vision of the business and supervising executive team members.

Hood is enthusiastic about understanding her team members, customers, and independent contractors which enables her to build rapport. She designed and hosts Ramona Roundtables, an open forum for candid feedback and discussions to engage and understand important stakeholders. Consequently, she has devised methodologies that improve the performance of FedEx Custom Critical. Hood led the 24/7 international transportation provider company through the constraints imposed during the pandemic.

Furthermore, Hood serves as a FedEx Custom Critical Board Member. She has been recognized with the MEECO Leadership Institute’s International Thought Leader of Distinction Award, SMEI’s Distinguished Sales & Marketing Award, and has twice earned FedEx’s Five Star Award, the highest recognition FedEx employees can receive.

“From the time I accepted the position, to realizing the magnitude of the role itself, it has been exciting. Not only to support the business objectives but being the first and setting an example. I have looked forward to leading a company in my career — it was definitely one of the milestones I hoped to achieve. More importantly, being an African American woman raising two African American women, it is very inspirational for my daughters,” Hood said about the impact of her rise in corporate America.