The Women in Fleet profile series introduces fleet managers to some of the most influential women in fleet. Every month, we get to know another positive force in the fleet industry.
This month, we spoke with Catherine Tillman, director of fleet, records management & travel for AbbVie.
Getting into Fleet
Tillman’s introduction to fleet began when she was promoted to the role of director of global travel and fleet at Abbott in 2007. She first joined Abbott as a secretary in 1989 and moved through various roles at the company until finding her place in fleet.
Between 2007 and 2012, as director, global travel and fleet, she helped implement a series of changes to policy and vehicle selection to improve the fleet’s fuel economy and sustainability efforts in the U.S., the latter of which were in its formative stages, Tillman said. She ultimately helped improve the fleet’s average miles per gallon 18% compared to the previous year’s baseline and saved the equivalent of over 2 million gallons of fuel.
Another major component to her role with Abbott at the time was the management of the company’s global fleet, which was initially a challenging experience, she said.
“In the early years of my fleet tenure, one of the biggest challenges in managing fleet on a global basis was the industry itself. By that, I mean that manufacturers and fleet management companies were not well positioned to support large, global companies,” she said. She noted, however, that the industry has since then seen growing support for global fleet management.
AbbVie’s New Venture
The pharmaceutical division of Abbott separated to become AbbVie in 2013. She joined AbbVie as the company’s director of fleet, travel, corporate card and records management.
Following this, AbbVie centralized its shared business functions to facilitate efficiencies and ensure consistency in governance and practice.
Keys to Success
“With other functions such as environment, health & safety (EHS), finance, HR, purchasing and tax also being centralized and global in scope, the model makes it easier to facilitate the necessary internal partnerships needed to implement global fleet policies and programs,” she said.
Early fleet successes include developing the organization’s Driving Choice program, which gives AbbVie drivers an option to order a vehicle that may be better suited to the driver’s work/life balance needs than the standard offering and the driver pays monthly fees to offset higher expenses. She also approved the introduction of newer vehicle safety and technology requirements, in partnership with EHS, which has resulted in a positive impact on accidents per million miles and preventable accidents per million miles metrics.
In addition, she said AbbVie has recently made much progress toward standardization and compliance, removing inconsistencies and ensuring equitable fleet programs across locations.
“I have a stellar fleet team and when we do our jobs well, we are enabling our internal customers to focus on their primary responsibilities, which oftentimes is focusing on external customers,” Tillman said. “That’s how we support AbbVie’s mission to have a remarkable impact on patients’ lives and that’s what keeps me coming to work.”
Endeavors in Global Fleet
“One current fleet initiative for AbbVie is the development of a global data repository with which to consolidate global fleet data and generate meaningful fleet reports,” Tillman said.
“We have done a lot of work in the last three years to consolidate fleet management companies and manufacturers and will continue that pursuit,” she said. “We are also developing our mobility strategy and brainstorming ways to further support our company’s enterprise emissions reduction goals.”
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