John Dmochowsky, senior global fleet manager for Mondelēz International, was named the 2017 Professional Fleet Manager of the Year at the 2017 Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) conference, which was held at the M Hotel in Las Vegas.
By winning the award —presented by Automotive Fleet magazine and sponsored by Wheels Inc. and AFLA — Dmochowsky joins a list of distinguished fleet managers that have been chosen by an industry panel made up of past winners, FMC and OEM executives, and the media.
In addition to the recognition, Dmochowsky will also be able to choose a business program that AFLA will provide a $5,000 scholarship to.
“It’s an honor to receive this recognition. I’m humble, grateful and blessed to receive this award. The recognition is nice, but outside of the recognition, I’m grateful for getting a chance to talk to my colleagues after winning the award about the things we’ve worked on and accomplished together. It’s also been humbling to hear them tell me how they feel about me personally,” said Dmochowsky.
Thirty-four years ago, John began his first day at Kraft Foods. His first position at the company was in the sales division, and at the time, becoming a fleet manager was nowhere on his radar.
That’s not to say he didn’t have an interest in cars. Being a Detroit-native, he’d always been around the automotive culture. Looking back at his early years in college and first few years in his professional career, it seemed like there were always signs pointing toward his future in fleet.
“I’ve always had an interest in fleet because of my background. I grew up in the Detroit area, and I worked on the assembly line to go to undergraduate school. I also drove a company car the first couple years of my career with Kraft. I felt like it was meant to be, to have that DNA in fleet,” said Dmochowsky.
Dmochowsky continued working in the sales division of Kraft Foods for the next 18 years. It was around this time, however — nearly two decades after beginning at Kraft Foods — that he felt like he needed a change in his professional life.
By happenstance, a sales trainer position within the company opened up at this time. Dmochowsky saw this open position and decided that it would provide the change of pace he was looking for, and decided to apply.
He didn’t get the job. But, he managed to leave an impression on the hiring manager.
A few months later when a manager of sales productivity position became available Dmochowsky applied for the job, which had the same hiring manager, and got the job.
Dmochowsky didn’t know it at the time, but landing this job would be one of the first big steps toward his career in fleet. As it turned out, the manager of sales productivity was who the company’s fleet manager reported to.
For the next four years, Dmochowsky served as Kraft Food’s manager of sales productivity and learned about the company’s fleet operations from the reports that the fleet manager would provide. Then, at the tail end of those four years, Kraft Foods went through an organizational restructure, resulting in Dmochowsky in the position of manager of sales fleet operations, overseeing Kraft Food’s fleet.
In 2012 Kraft Foods split into two separate companies: Kraft Foods North America and Mondelēz International (a snacking company with brands such as Nabisco, Cadbury, Chips Ahoy, and Oreos). Dmochowsky transferred to Mondelēz International after the split, and there he was named senior sales fleet manager. Three years later, Dmochowsky was promoted to global fleet manager of Mondelēz International.
His responsibilities in this role include overseeing Mondelēz International’s international strategic global fleet initiatives in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Dmochowsky also leads the company’s global strategic developments in the global policy administration, partnership relations, budgeting, vehicle acquisition and disposal, driver safety programs, auditing, greenhouse gas initiatives, fuel management initiatives, and all other cost-avoidance projects.
With this many responsibilities, work can be hectic, however, he thanks his staff for ensuring success in the fleet.
“I don’t do this all on my own, it’s a consolidated effort of me surrounding myself with good people, smart people, and a great team,” said Dmochowsky.
One of the initiatives he’s most proud of during his tenure as global fleet manager is a global cost-saving initiative that resulted in a 21% reduction in global fleet spend for Mondelēz International from 2015 to 2016.
“This reduction was a combination of change in the global fleet selection process, policy implementation, and a continuous savings initiative. And, it has resulted in an overall total reduction in the total cost of ownership for our vehicles,” said Dmochowsky.
Mondelēz International is comprised of a global fleet of over 10,000 vehicles, primarily consisting of compact cars and SUVs. The bulk are company vehicle used by sales staff to visit customers, which range from major retailers to family owned grocery stores. A smaller percentage of the company’s fleet is accounted by perk vehicles, which are part of certain workers’ compensation packages.
Being a Global Fleet Manager
Although Dmochowsky is quick to credit much of the success at Mondelēz International to his staff, the mindset that he maintains as a global fleet manager also drives much of the company’s success.
“You have to be an agent of change when you have a global initiative. In a global fleet, you have a large scale, a large scope of vehicles, and many of those vehicles can be in different countries. In those countries you have market differences and within those markets you can have cultural differences. The unique aspect of being a global fleet manager is taking those global platforms and the components within them to streamline your global initiatives to a regional level,” said Dmochowsky.
It is crucial, he noted, to keep in mind the marketplace and culture when working on a global scale.
Global fleet managers also need to be flexible, he added. Certain markets may only have certain providers. And, you might run into a situation where an FMC or OEM partner might not have a product available in the markets you’re working on.
“One of the biggest key learnings that I found out is that you can’t take the North American model and cut and paste it in other regions. You can’t go into a country and expect them to buy-in 100%, you have to look at it step-by-step. Work through some of the differences in the market and cultures and do your best to apply to global initiatives,” said Dmochowsky.
The Future of Fleet
In a few years, Dmochowsky will have reached 20 years in the fleet industry. He’s seen the industry grow for nearly as long as some of the people entering the industry have been alive.
In that time he’s held a commitment to continuous learning and constant improvement. He’s served as AFLA’s president and is proud to say he’s earned his CAFM certification. He also serves on various advisory boards such as GM’s customer advisory board and LeasePlan’s global advisory board.
When he looks toward the future, he’s quick to acknowledge that autonomous vehicles and the electrification of vehicles will play a key role in fleet’s future. However, the biggest agent of change in fleet’s future, in his eyes, will be the next generation of fleet managers and fleet professionals.
“I’m really impressed with the skill levels of the professionals entering the fleet industry. They’re coming into our industry ready to go. It’s exciting working with them and I really feel that the baton is going to change quickly within the next five years. The new young leaders are going to take fleet to the next level. And I believe, and I’m very optimistic, that they’re going to do it,” said Dmochowsky.