The Women in Fleet profile series introduces fleet managers to some of the most influential women in fleet. Every month, we will get to know another positive force in the fleet industry.
This month, we spoke with Gail Watson, CAFM, fleet and parking services manager for Nationwide Insurance Co.
Getting Into Fleet
Watson began her career with Nationwide 40 years ago, with all but one of those years involved in fleet.
"My position includes managing the fleet leasing contract for 3,000 nationally dispersed vehicles with an annual spend of $38 million. Development of policies and processes with an emphasis on the customer experience, management and quality assurance of national suppliers, with an emphasis on vehicle selection, mileage requirements, personal use, maintenance management, fuel,” Watson explained.
She began her fleet career when the fleet manager at the time needed a part-time administrator.
“I applied and was hired to help him and take insurance premium payments from our policyholders. My new boss, I quickly learned, was passionate about fleet and it was quick to rub off on me. We worked together for 15 years and when he retired, I moved into his position. He was active in NAFA at both the chapter and national level, so I became familiar with the organization very early on,” she explained.
Watson prides herself on her approach to working with customers.
“I’ve always strived for consistency in administering fleet policies, making sure we’re making decisions that are able to be applied in all cases. I also feel very good about being on the NAFA Board and my contributions to my chapter over the years, as well as serving as curriculum chair for the I&E several years ago,” she said.
Motivation comes easy for Watson. “This industry and the role of a fleet manager is unique, and I think because everything is always new and different, it keeps me intrigued. Many have asked me why I have stayed in my job so long. The answer is simple — there is always something new — new vehicles, new technology, new people. It’s never been boring!” Watson said.
And, in terms of advice, Watson doesn’t look at gender.
“I know and have known fleet professionals who excel in their jobs because they have the passion and have taken the initiative to educate themselves and are heavily involved with organizations such as NAFA and AFLA. Learn all you can, stay close to your company’s values, and strive for originality. And most of all, remember your customer,” Watson advised.
Get to Know Me
Experience is only part of our story and what someone likes to read, watch, and listen to can help paint a fuller picture of their personality. Here are some of Watson’s favorites:
- Books: “I have an extensive library of Ann Rule’s true crime books. I also have a small fortune tied up in John Grisham novels.”
- Movies: “I have to go with three movies as I can’t decide which is my favorite: 'Scarface,' 'Goodfellas,' and 'The Departed.'"
- Song: "Don’t Stop Believing" by Journey
- You May Not Know: “One thing most may not know is the fact I read books about crime and watch gangster movies. I enjoy traveling and visits with family, and of course, the Harley.”