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Professional Fleet Managers Share Career Advice

July 2012, Automotive Fleet - WebXclusive

by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

In an article entitled, "Voices from the Past: Highlights from the 'Best of the Best'," by Lauren Fletcher, that appeared in the April issue of Automotive Fleet, several professional fleet managers and past Professional Fleet Manager of the Year Award winners shared advice for other industry peers. Here are a few of the suggestions and pieces of advice they shared:

Debbie Mize, corporate services manager, fleet, relocation & travel for Hallmark

Get involved with the NAFA Fleet Management Association and the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) and network with other fleet managers. So many individuals become fleet managers within their current companies and receive little training.

Manufacturers and fleet management companies (FMCs) can also be extremely helpful, especially for a new fleet manager. I think the unique piece of the fleet industry is that most of us really have a passion for it and are so willing to help others with our experiences.

Sue Miller, manager, fleet program & services, McDonald’s Corp.

Build relationships across all facets of the industry. Always remain open to ideas and input. Don’t allow yourself to become comfortable with your personal skill set or vendor relationships. Work together, but regularly set goals, measure results, survey your customers, challenge yourself, your team (if you supervise), and your vendor partners. Document your successes and keep your leadership engaged in what you do — consistently. Maintain your honor and integrity. Live your life with gratefulness and respect.

Shirley Collins, CAFM, director, North American Fleet, GlaxoSmithKline

Establish yourself, not just as a fleet manager, but as a manager that is required to be proficient in many areas. Network within your company using internal contacts in risk management, HR, environmental safety, sourcing, legal, etc., and let your accomplishments be known.

Schedule frequent updates with your management so they are aware of the work you are doing and any savings you have created for your company. Also, stay in touch with current fleet best practices by taking advantage of networking and education provided by the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) and the NAFA Fleet Management Association. Finally, choose your business partners wisely and take advantage of what they can offer to assist in your success.

Jim McCarthy, director of fleet, Siemens Corp.

Treat the position as a career, not just a job — first, because it very well may become your career (for me it was an 18-month assignment that has developed into an 18-year career) and secondly, because you always perform better when you build your goals and strategies based on a long-term vision.

Remember that the landscape is under constant revision, and we need to be able to manage at the highest level of competency no matter what the “current” landscape might be. When all is said and done, it’s always about the end results. Also, don’t wait for recognition — always market your successes upstream, not necessarily to pat yourself on the back, but to ensure the value-add of your department is recognized and understood.

Scott Mayo, fleet manager, Scotts Lawn Service

Become active with NAFA and AFLA. You also need to be involved with your vendors and their advisory boards. You can learn a lot by talking to your peers.

Joe LaRosa, CPA, director, global fleet administration, Merck & Co., Inc.

All fleet managers, new and experienced, must be constantly vigilant trying to find the best solutions for managing fleet processes. Never accept the status quo, and, for managers entering global responsibilities, try and remember to consider long-term goals rather than short-term goals.

I have approached fleet strategy in places such as the Philippines, where the short-term higher costs would far outweigh the longer-term savings in order to change to an outsourced provider.

View LaRosa's Fleet Manager of the Year article here.

Christy Coyte Meyer, global fleet manager, Johnson Controls, Inc.

Use the available resources! Pursue training and educational opportunities and connect with other fleet managers! Don’t underestimate the value of networking.

View Coyte Meyer's Fleet Manager of the Year article here.

Michael Simms, manager, global fleet planning, acquisition & resale, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Network, network, and network. Learn as much as you can from those who have experience. Attend fleet-related conferences, such as the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA), NAFA Fleet Management Association, Green Fleet, and others if your budget will allow it. Immerse yourself in learning the business. Subscribe to and read the best fleet publications. Make yourself available to serve on committees, sounding boards, and organizations. Don’t be afraid to give back to the industry by making yourself available. Build relationships with manufacturers and learn their product. Meet with them often and make them feel welcome and part of your team. Be loyal to your business partners and develop a culture of trust. Finally, don’t be afraid of change!

View Simms Fleet Manager of the Year article here.

Theresa Belding, senior manager, fleet services, Forest Pharmaceuticals

My advice for new fleet managers is to understand that you cannot do this job well in a vacuum. There are so many knowledgeable individuals willing to share their expertise, successes, and failures. Take advantage of these resources. These are peers, vendors, individuals within your organization

View Beldings Fleet Manager of the Year article here.

By Lauren Fletcher

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