Debbie Ricciardelli has been in fleet for over 25 years. The bulk of her time in fleet has been in the pharmaceutical sector. Her present company, Pearson Education, is the first non-pharmaceutical company she has managed a fleet for.
Her title at Pearson Education is fleet analyst/procurement. There she works with a fleet leasing company to manage a fleet of roughly 900 vehicles.
Fleet has been a large part of her life, but another big part of her life has been something she does off the clock: She collects photos of her celebrity encounters, which often includes getting autographed photos, and all told, she has collected more than 300 different photos. Her collection has grown so much that she has a room dedicated to them in her house called the “Celebrity Room,” complete with a red-carpet-lined floor.
The collection was started by her husband. He works as a professional magician, and is professionally known as Mike Spade. Many of the gigs he worked involved celebrities, so he was able to get autographed photos while on the job. Ricciardelli and her son Jason became interested and continued the tradition.
“We saw a book signing for someone we were interested in, not knowing that they would take pictures with the first people there,” said Ricciardelli. “When we got there we got our picture taken with the celebrity, and it became a fun, fascinating hobby from there.”
People she’s met and had photos autographed with include Bob Saget, Drew Carey, several Yankees players, including Yogi Berra, the members of the Impractical Jokers, Michael J. Fox, Mike Tyson, Cameron Diaz, Henry Winkler, Brad Garrett, Whoopi Goldberg, Bruce Springsteen, and Joan Rivers.
Her hobby and her career have crossed paths a few times. One notable instance, given that her family is full of Yankees fans, was when Yankees announcer Michael Kay spoke at a fleet meeting and she was able to get a photo with him and speak to him.
Living in New Jersey, she hasn’t had to travel far to pursue her hobby. Many celebrities visit her home state for book signings. And, in the event that a celebrity doesn’t visit New Jersey on their book tour, they’ll likely visit New York. They also visit comedy clubs and conventions to fill their collection.
Two celebrity photos that she’s looking to add to her collection soon are Gordon Ramsay and Neil Patrick Harris. Both will be in New York on the same day, and she plans to visit them both for their autographed photos. Celebrities she hopes to add include Seth McFarlane, Paul McCartney, Judge Judy, Howie Mandel, Jay Leno, and Jerry Seinfeld
History in Fleet
Ricciardelli said that she’s loved her entire career in fleet. Like many, she noted that she didn’t intend to enter fleet, but she was glad that it worked out for her.
She began working in accounts payable and accounts receivable at a pharmaceutical company. One day, one of her bosses told her that the company needed someone to do meeting planning and if she would be interested in the position. She agreed.
Sometime later, at the same company, the fleet person quit and her boss again asked if she would be interested in filling the position. She knew what fleet was at this time, but she wasn’t entirely sure what the position entailed. Still, she agreed, and entered the world of fleet.
She learned on the go, teaching herself as she worked, and she’s been doing it ever since.
“I’ve met so many nice people in fleet and the atmosphere in the industry has been so good, I hope to see that continue,” said Ricciardelli.