We’re excited to celebrate Black History Month by sharing the stories of our employees who are making history everyday at our company. This month the spotlight is on Quen Whitehead, Prep Operations Manager, and what Black History Month means to her. She was drawn to her role at Veho by her fascination for logistics and now she enjoys spending her time leading the prep team by crafting new routes and ensuring that packages pass through our facilities efficiently.
How long have you been with Veho? And what do you do here?
I've been with Veho for a little over two and half years, being one of the first few employees at the company. I'm an Operations Manager, working on the transition process between receiving packages and getting the product out to our driver partners. I also work on crafting routes, take accountability for all the packages that come through our system, and ensure they're in the right state to leave our facilities.
My team is constantly analyzing what inventory we're getting and checking that it matches the data on our system. From there, we create routes that are reasonable and drivable. It's a challenging process during periods of poor weather conditions; we're constantly conducting checks to ensure it's safe for our driver partners and whether it's possible to meet our obligations safely. It's a real team effort between multiple departments to ensure we're all on the same page.
How big is your team right now?
We're currently eight, but we're actively hiring to help meet our ambitious growth plans for 2022. One of the most significant changes I've seen since starting at Veho is the tremendous expansion of our business. The growth between 2020 and 2021 was significantly high, and keeping up was definitely one of the challenging points. I've seen some teams go from being a handful of people to 100 people. This is a good problem, so we're hiring to expand our team and ensure we're equipped to handle more future growth and demand.
What did you do before Veho? And how has your background prepared you to succeed in your current role?
My route to becoming an Operations Manager is probably different from others. I got my bachelor's degree in Music and a master's degree in Music Business. I was always very interested in the logistics aspect of the music industry since a lot of it involved planning and managing events. On the back of that interest and experience, I decided to become an entrepreneur and spent the subsequent years working with clients that would need events, such as concerts, conferences or business expos. So, technically, Veho is actually the first company I've worked for!
After some years, I burnt out; there's definitely an extra layer of workload required when you're an entrepreneur, especially when the contracts and work start to get bigger. So, I decided to take a step back in 2019, and that's when I noticed Veho was hiring. It was great to see that my transferable skills in logistics fit perfectly into the operations at Veho. Everyday for me is like a show - I love it!
What does Black History Month mean to you?
For me, it's a time of reflection. I try not to confine it to just one month, but Black History Month especially is a time to remember what's happened - the good and the bad. It's good to be reminded of the black pioneers that came before us and recognize their efforts. It's a time for re-inspiring yourself, thinking of the journey you're on, and taking time to look back. Even if it's something as simple as reading a book or visiting a museum - it's essential to take time to remember.
It's a time for re-inspiring yourself, thinking of the journey you're on, and taking time to look back.
Do you have any traditions to celebrate Black History Month?
There are usually programs and events that I sing for, and I also like to take a trip to a museum. It's all part of remembering, especially if you have any youth in your life - It’s important to expose them to events and history. This time of year, there's always a new wave of content on black history that I enjoy watching. I also enjoy reading about black inventors and acknowledging their achievements since we are not often taught their history.
What's it like being a black woman in the tech community?
It's probably similar to other industries. It's exciting when you're doing something you want to do, but it is a struggle. You have to really prove yourself and work harder. Based on my previous work experience, I think this is true across most industries and not just tech in particular.
What does Veho do to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)?
We have a hiring process that emphasizes diversity. We also have great Slack groups, such as Black at Veho and Women at Veho, within the company that acts as safe spaces for discussion and sharing.
What advice would you give to any black professionals trying to break into the business world?
My main piece of advice is to prepare. You'll have your schooling and education behind you, but you'll also need to prepare your emotional health and mental health. It will be a struggle, so it's essential to implement steps to help you succeed, such as finding good mentors and peers. It's necessary to have a good work ethic and to be able to stay on top of things. I also recommend documenting things like feedback and any tasks. You never know when you might need to reference it. Be aware that people may perceive what you do and say differently, so prepare for those challenges, so you're not caught blindsided.
You'll have your schooling and education behind you, but you'll also need to prepare your emotional health and mental health.
Are there any conferences or books you'd recommend to Black professionals?
I would recommend the South by Southwest festival. Although it's predominantly a music and film event, there's a strong focus on technology and innovation. You get to meet great people, network and enjoy different types of art to re-energize you. For books, I really enjoy Black Inventors: Crafting over 200 Years of Success - it's great for motivation and for seeing all the amazing things that have been done by black pioneers who paved the way for us. It's inspiring to read their stories and reaffirm that you are a talented, inspiring, educated person; capable of doing anything you want to do.