As Managing Director for Fleet Maintenance Europe at FedEx Express, Louise Whitehouse is responsible for over 20,000 assets across Europe. Here, our Woman of the Year at the 2020 everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards tells us what makes her tick, from 5am starts to dinner with Stephen Fry…
1. What are your current thoughts looking ahead to the New Year?
This year  has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging and difficult times we have faced in recent time. However, as we look towards next year and our road to recovery, I’m optimistic that the transport and logistics industry will continue to go from strength to strength. As an essential services provider, we have been able to keep trade and commerce flowing during a time when the rest of the world seemingly had to grind to a halt. I believe more and more people are recognising the unique role our industry plays in everyone’s day to day lives and we will see more of this with the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine in the coming months.
2. What would you say your biggest strength is which has helped you be so successful at your job?
My biggest strength has to be my optimism. I am a glass half full person and I always try and see everything as a positive. Communication is key to leading a successful team across Europe and while travel has restricted everyone this year, we have been able to use different platforms to stay in touch and still see each other’s faces. This adds a level of personal interaction which I believe is really important and I’d much rather see someone virtually than not at all.
3. What’s your Achilles heel?
Eating too many frazzles!
4. What is on your to do list that you’ve been putting off?
Decluttering my wardrobes, again! I always think things will be useful in the future so find it hard to throw items away.
5. Are you an introvert or an extravert?
I am definitely an extravert; I am comfortable with my own company but I also love being with other people. I am a social person and love the interaction with others and the positivity that brings. During the past nine months, I have managed to survive through a virtual social world of online quizzes and games with my family and friends. At work, we have tried to keep this level of interaction going in the current circumstances and have even had our Christmas Jumper day online!
6. Who has had the most profound impact on your career?
If I had to pick one person, it would have to be one of my managers when I first started my career. My manager supported me and pushed me out of my comfort zone to help me see my potential and I will always be grateful for that.
7. What book, film or piece of music sums up your outlook on life?
It would have to be Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.
8. Who would be at your fantasy dinner party?
That is a tough one! I would probably invite Anthony Kiedis [lead singer of rock band Red Hot Chilli Peppers] for his music, Anthony Bourdain for his travel and food experiences, and Stephen Fry for his humour, wit and knowledge — so an eclectic mix!
9. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Definitely an early bird! I find I am more motivated and productive early in the morning and I generally wake up and get ready for the day at 5am and like to be in bed by 10pm. I like to stick to a routine, which has been particularly important this year during lockdown. Regardless of whether I am working in the office or at home, I like to sign on to my emails at 7am each day and catch up with a coffee in hand. I love the first hour of each day, it gives me the necessary time to plan and reflect for my day ahead.
10. What have been your best day at work?
I’ve had so many it’s difficult to choose just one day! One particular day does stand out when I travelled to Bratislava with some team members to represent the UK in an internal FedEx competition. I felt immensely proud of my team that day. More recently, the day I found out I had been awarded the Woman of the Year Awards at the 2020 everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards. That was a very humbling moment for me.
11. When have you been at your least confident?
I find it particularly challenging when I have to present to a large group of people on a topic that I am not comfortable with. I like to know my facts and be in control when I have to present. My top tip is to know your topic and do the necessary research so that you can talk with confidence about the subject matter.
12. What was your ‘Plan B’ career?
I didn’t really have a ‘Plan B,’ but if I had to pick one now, I’d love to work for a non-profit charity. Alternatively, I also love to travel and organise new adventures for myself, friends and family so it would be interesting working as a travel consultant so I could combine my love of travel and planning!
13. What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Believe in yourself, your abilities and that you can do it!