Kawal Preet was working in FedEx ground operations in Singapore when she faced a defining moment: an offer to become the managing director of planning and engineering in Hong Kong. As a single mom with a son who was then three, she thought long and hard before accepting.
Sixteen years later, Preet can look back with confidence that she made the right move—and appreciation for the support she received from colleagues and her mother remotely.
“Moving was a challenge; navigating how to excel at both the new role and raising my young son was another one,” says Preet, now FedEx President, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (AMEA). “During that time, I made small adjustments every day and really took it as a personal growth opportunity.”
That kind of growth mindset has stayed with Preet, and she encourages it in her own teams. She describes wanting to build a culture that is inclusive and enables every member to thrive. “Just like how I was nurtured and mentored, I catch up with my teams to listen to their views and make sure they feel heard and supported,” she says.
Women still face hurdles in traditionally male-dominated industries like delivery and logistics services—and particularly in the AMEA region, the most diverse region in the FedEx network and where attitudes towards gender equality vary greatly.
Preet sees dismantling those hurdles as part of her job description. She conducted an internal gender audit to identify the areas that need addressing and created a forum called the Real Talk Series for executives to receive coaching on how to approach uncomfortable conversations.
“One thing I’m particularly proud of last year was signing the CEO statement of support on behalf of the FedEx AMEA team for the United Nation Women’s Empowerment Principles (UNWEPs) – Equality Means Business,” adds Preet. “The commitment we promised under UNWEP will help to push us further on the path of advancing gender equality and empower women in the workplace.”
In her own words below, Preet shares more about her motivations, routines, and why she dislikes the language of work-life balance for our How I Work It series.
BEGINNING THE DAY WITH GRATITUDE
I find if I start the morning right, the rest of the day flows much more easily. I do have a ritual of practising gratitude first thing in the morning as it helps me to start off the day with a positive mindset. This really helps me to tackle any challenges with a fresh perspective. I also catch up on the world news over a cup of fresh coffee and plan out what my day is going to look like.
TAKING A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW OF MY SCHEDULE
Like many working moms—especially single moms—I’m a serial planner. There are only so many hours in a day, and I’ve got to balance the personal and the professional aspects of my life. I like to have a bird’s-eye view of things on my plate and prioritise them based on importance. To help with this I don’t use anything more sophisticated than the apps on my iPhone and iPad. Prioritisation is critical so that I don’t miss any important family matters while being productive at work at the same time.