From Entry Level to CEO: Climbing the 'Lattice' of Success
Many Kent State University students are interested in leadership positions both on campus and professionally. Ramona Hood, president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical, started her journey as an entry-level employee and made her way up from there. In 2020 she became the first Black female president and CEO of a FedEx operating company.
On Feb. 21, Hood spoke with Kent State’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and an array of College of Communication and Information students, staff and faculty. More than 100 guests eagerly crowded into FirstEnergy Interactive Auditorium in Franklin Hall to learn from Hood’s experiences and wisdom.
The discussion was facilitated by public relations majors Maddie Goerl and Chania Crawford, PRSSA Kent's vice president of professional relations and the co-chair of diversity, equity and inclusion, respectively.
As a 19-year-old single mother, Hood started working as a FedEx receptionist, but later realized that there was an opportunity for a career after being moved into the safety department.
“In the safety department, a lot of the leaders had taken notice of me because I was interested in learning more than what my job was and being able to support when there was a need,” Hood said.
As the years progressed, Hood made several strategic moves, climbing what she calls the “lattice” of success, noting it’s not always a ladder; sometimes you go sideways, not up. But in every position, leadership is a key factor.
“You lead by inspiring people, you lead by giving people the why behind things, you lead by example,” Hood said. “Those are characteristics all of us have, and it’s important, regardless of our titles or the position we’re in, that we remember we all have the ability of leading.”
Hood’s informal leadership, adaptability and self-clarity paved the way for her success. In January 2020, Hood was promoted to president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical.
Hood gave students advice on the importance of self-clarity and advocating for themselves in the professional world.
“You take jobs to make a life and take care of yourself. You take careers for a journey of roles and positions that you want and you are your best advocate,” Hood said. “No one knows what your interests and desires are if you’re not advocating for yourself.”
Hood put great emphasis on the importance of diversity in all aspects of the workplace.
“I think diversity is critical in making business decisions. At the end of the day, a diverse thought process will allow you to think about things that maybe you individually would have blind spots to,” Hood said. “If you hire everyone that thinks and looks like you, you’re going to miss a lot of opportunities.”
Hood emphasized that her journey to the top was not always smooth sailing, but “at the end of the day if you’re not dealing with some failures, you’re not taking risks,” Hood said.
Visit PRSSA Kent to learn more about future events.