FedEx Blog

FedEx Blog

The Journey of Finding Balance

November 19, 2008

This year is my 30th anniversary here at FedEx. The Company is 35 years old, so you can imagine I’ve seen, experienced and been through a lot of change. In that time I’ve been fortunate to grow my professional career to a point where today I serve as vice president of FedEx Customer Information Services customer service operations. I have had the opportunity to hold many different positions throughout the company which has given me the ability to grow and learn.

The journey has been one that keeps me humble as I started as a Service Agent taking in packages behind the counter and now I serve many FedEx employees who serve our customers each day. My journey resembles the dream that is no different than many of your dreams. I want to first be happy and continue to grow while contributing my time to something that makes a bigger difference in our world.

One of the most rewarding outcomes of my wonderful career has been the ability to grow professionally, while nurturing and building a family of my own.

Maybe it’s because I work for a company that values its people, but I’ve made it a mission to study, understand and promote how people can have a successful life work balance. As a female who happens to have two executive positions in life: an executive at work and executive of the Harrell household. I take great pride and joy knowing that I’ve been successful at both.

When I found out about the FedEx Citizenship Blog and that I had the opportunity to discuss what work life balance means to me, and hopefully what it means for others and build community and sharing of ideas around the topic, I said, “sign me up!”

In the coming posts, this is what I hope to do, build community. I’m new to blogging, so I’m looking for your support. I’m looking forward to the journey.


    Debra Swinney says:

    Work-life balance is a stuggle for most (if not all) FedEx employees. We, as employees, get it when others talk about “The Purple Promise” because our customers are high on our list of priorities. A successful peak is also high on the list. Peak is here again! Those outside of FedEx call it Christmas. It is known as Peak to those inside the organization, and it usually includes long hours and heavy volume. However, we have to remember that there is balance out there, and we must take the necessary steps to seek out information regarding work-life balance. I have oftentimes utilized the Employee Assistance Program to find information. It is a tool that is not promoted enough and too often forgotten when seeking solutions to common work-life balance problems.

    Sherri Tipton says:

    What an interesting and inspiring career! Thanks for sharing!

    rebecca hullum says:

    i loved what you wrote, sheila. fedex provided me a wonderful career and the ability to take care of my two sons. now, in retirement i have a pension. . i am so thankful for stumbling on fedex when it was starting up. i was the 502nd employee hired at fedex. we are so lucky to have had the opportunity!!!!

    rebecca hullum

    Marie McVay says:

    Sheila, you’ve had an inspiring career and you are a fantastic role model for all of us, men and women, at FedEx!

    Like you, I started out at the bottom, a PBX operator. When some people hear that, they seem to feel a bit sorry for me. Being a PBX operator, word processore, admin. assistant, etc., allowed me to build a solid foundation at FedEx. I learned a great deal about the company, PSP, Operations, etc., and I’ve built some very special relationships over the past 25, almost 26 years.

    I’ve not only reached the dreams and goals that I set for myself many years, but I’ve been allowed to stretch and go further than I ever allowed myself to dream! It’s great to be able to get up every single day, be excited about what your team is doing, and at the end of the day being fullfilled and knowing you made a bit of a difference. FedEx has allowed me to do just that and I feel very blessed!

    sheila says:

    Thank you Marie. I loved your story too. It has been a wonderful journey filled with opportunities to grow and meet inspiritional and heartwarming people. Customers, vendor parnters, family members and FedEx teammates have played key roles in our growth through out the years. Thank you for sharing your journey! It is so inspiring and encourgaing me to keep going!! You go girl!!! 🙂

    sheila says:

    Wow, you were terrific to send me a note! Becky, you were part of my jouney and my success. I thank you for all you did to help me grow and be a better Sheila!!!! You were a terrific leader while at Fedex. You helped build an environment where everyone can grow, learn and succeed. i am honored to have had the opportunity to work with you. I am glad you are enjoying your retirement. It is well deserved! We will keep serving our customers and making yu proud! Sheila

    sheila says:

    Thank you Debra for your terrific note. I agree withy ou that fedEx has wonderful programs to help us through the key events in our lives. I am so glad you reminded us of where we can find good info to feed our hearts and minds with. If we apply the tips we will get through ut all and enjoy it. Thank you for your suggestion. Something tells me that you have many majical moments as you help our customers with their shipping. Thank you and have a great one. Sheila

    Dawn Wright says:

    Sheila, I am very happy to learn of your successful journey. I started with FedEx 24 years ago also, as a service agent. I later worked in customer service for 13 years and received the best advice for my career from my director at the time, Becky Hullum, she told me family comes first and not to rush climbing up the ladder but to make sure and balance career and family.

    Because of that “family first” philosophy FedEx has given me the opportunity as a single mom to raise 2 beautiful daughters, start college and balance my family, career, and education.

    Today as an operations manager I pass that way of balance on to my employees.

    Bryant Hoyle says:

    Fedex is an excellent company to work for. I am very fortinate to be employeed with such a successful company. I have the opportunity to provide excellent customer service in which I take pride in doing. I’m also grateful with the ability to grow professionally. I am planning and would love a career with Fedex, and I will always to my very best to make every Fedex experience outstanding.

    Gwendolyn Rouzan says:


    I am forturnate to be affiliated with you as a business partner and mentoree. I have always admired your executive, yet “humble” pressence and the focus on work-balance. As an HR professional the demands of the job often bleed over into my private time, so work balance is a constant challenge for me personally. However, through useful tools and role modeling, I am encouraged daily.

    November says:

    I am very proud of to read this article !I am a new employee in APAC and just graduated from school .To be honest ,I doubted my choice in the beginning .Even though I didnot know what the future will be like ,but from all the words my excellent co-workers just have mentioned ,I`m confident about my future now!No matter how hard the future will be ,sticked to it ,that will lead to a bright future! I would like to make friends with you from any parts of the world ! You should add my e-mail and QQ976481497.My dear co-workers , the future is in our hands. Come on!!!!!

    Julie James says:

    Sheila, thanks for sharing your story! You have been a role model to many of us who were trying to raise a family and have a career at the same time. FedEx does promote life/balance, the key is to find that balance which no one can define for you, you have to find what is right for you. Keeping your priorities in order can be challenging too, it helps to have a mentor who can “relate” to your situation. Thanks again!

    Michele Finley says:

    I have been fortunate to work for several managers who have always allowed me the ability to balance my responsibilities at work along with my home life. This is very important to me since I have two small kids at home. It is great to work for a company that allows me to further my education, grow professionally, and take care of my family. It’s also good to know that upper management supports this balance.

    sheila says:

    Gwen, I feel the feeling is mutual. I have enoyed learning from you through the years. You ability to focus on FedEx employee issues and programs while raising your son, caring for your mother and having a fun full life is so impressive. I have taken magical tips from you in the past. You beleive in exercise and getting up and moving. You also plan trips that are fun and relaxing. Thanks for living your tipsright before me. You are a living balance example!

    sheila says:

    Bryant, it is so much fun to see folks who love Fedex,our peer employee and our customers! You have the best attitude toward your work. Share with us how you balance your entire life? can’t wait to hear. Sheila

    sheila says:

    I love hearing this tip. You were blessed with a wonderful mentor at the time. Becky was right balancing family and career are so important. Congratulations on your wonderful life accomplishment of raising two daughters. I kow that they have learned so much from you on how to have a life filled with love, laughter, and joy. Your response sounds as if you have great balance. Also, congratulations on your achievement of going back to college. The accomplishments in life are so about the journey! It sounds as if you are enjoying every step. Keep that positive attitude and who know what is next for you. Also, you are such an inspiration to us all. Thank you for sharing, Sheila

    The journey begins with the individual. Ownership of the work-life balance is the important first step and clearly you made that step early in your career. Your valuable advice is important for everyone whether this is their first day at FedEx or their 20th Anniversary.

    Work-life balance is a dynamic process that moves and changes. Initially it can be a challenge to find the right balance. Especially for a customer centric and highly motivated workforce like the one here at FedEx.

    Giving my non-work (life) relationships and tasks the same energy and passion that I give to my work relationships/tasks is a valuable parameter I use. If I’m listening to a family member or friend they have 100% of my focus and attention. We can each design parameters that are relevant and work for our individual circumstances.

    At the end of the day, a good balance results in a higher quality experience both at work and at home.

    Good blog topic.

    Janice Avery-Walthall says:

    Sheila, you are truly an inspiration! I have been fortunate to work with many long-term FedEx employees. The knowledge and guidance that was shared unselfishly has been priceless and something that I will always cherish. You specifically have always been in my corner providing words of encouragement and leading by example. You are a special person and I am glad that you have been a positive part of my career at FedEx. Work/Life balance is something many of us struggle with, so thank you for sharing your journey.

    BrandonSch says:

    Wonderful post , You absolutely hit the
    mark with this, I just don’t think that people quite get what you’re saying.
    I’m not for sure how many people I’ve talked to concerning this very
    thing in the past month, and they just can’t get it.

    , Excellent post!

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