Making INROADS at FedEx
“Hope is not a strategy, we need to be deliberate with our actions,” Lead Diversity and Inclusion Director for FedEx Services, Thanh Anderson says. He believes companies need a pipeline from which to gather talent and that it should represent employee diversity while reinforcing that company’s culture. INROADS is one of those pipelines.
INROADS is a non-profit organization designed to provide paid internships for excelling, diverse undergraduate students. The program is structured so that the selected students intern each summer during their undergraduate career at the same corporation to acquire the skills and support that they need to be successful in management after graduation. The students work closely with an advisor from INROADS and a corporate mentor at the company for which they are interning to learn and grow. After graduation, INROADS students are fully prepared to enter the workforce, and many of the students continue to work for the company they interned for during their INROADS program. And this is where FedEx becomes involved.
Several FedEx representatives recently spent a few days at an INROADS Learning Summit in Florida to share their own stories and to provide them with beneficial knowledge from the FedEx perspective. Through this summit, the INROADS students were able to learn about the corporate world and hear about the relationship between FedEx and INROADS. FedEx has hosted countless INROADS interns, and has hired many of them for permanent positions after graduation. Several of those individuals have shared their INROADS experiences and voiced why the relationship between INROADS and FedEx is so vital. Both Chris Winton and Cisco Sanchez began their careers at FedEx as INROADS interns before being hired as full-time employees, and have worked their way up into higher positions using the knowledge they learned from INROADS.
Chris Winton currently serves as a Managing Director of IT for FedEx and holds a position on the INROADS Board of Directors, but his success story begins when he was in high school. As a native Memphian, Chris was recruited by INROADS during high school and immediately knew that INROADS was his chance to make the most out of his college career. He spent four summers interning at a service desk in IT, where he learned not only about the corporate workplace and IT, but also about setting goals and working to achieve them. In his 17 years here as a full-time employee at FedEx, Chris has worked in several departments, but has ultimately ended up in the same department that he once interned in. In his opinion, Chris believes that INROADS’ relationship with FedEx is similar to an NFL Draft because companies want to pull potential interns and employees from a reliable pool where they have been trained to work in corporate settings. “INROADS produces the quarterbacks and playmakers that companies need today,” Chris says. The hiring of diverse employees should be intentional according to Chris, and INROADS provides that.
Cisco Sanchez’s story is one full of global experience. Growing up in Colorado, Cisco never intended to live in Brazil, Argentina, Belgium or Memphis, but yet he has. Upon accepting his INROADS internship with FedEx, Cisco was quickly thrown into the corporate world and had to find a balance between work and school. His internship in the custom clearance section of IT allowed him to utilize his Computer Information Systems (CIS) knowledge daily, while also learning about how to make a first impression, what to say to your boss, what to wear to work and more. After 17 years of working full-time for FedEx, Cisco now holds the position of Vice President of IT, and he accredits his accomplishments to what he learned from INROADS. “If we are all the same, we think the same. And if we all think the same, we will all do the same,” says Cisco in response to why INROADS is such an important program for FedEx to support. INROADS allowed Cisco to showcase his talents and he was glad to know that diversity was a key focus of many companies when he was an intern and still today.