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 Sherry Calkins, vice president, Strategic Partners for Geotab.
Getting into Fleet
Calkins has been a member of the fleet industry for 23 years and with Geotab for the past four.
“My career began as a fleet administrator working in both government and corporate fleets, overseeing the entire fleet operations, ranging from acquisition, leasing, remarketing, maintenance facilities, fueling, alternative fuels, safety, and partnering with various vendors,” she said.
Calkins started her fleet career at Penn State University as an operations manager before she moved to Ohio University as director of transportation and parking. Intrigued with corporate fleet and international business, she branched out to take a role with Wendy’s International.
“We had five global franchise divisions at this time, where I was able to apply my fleet and operations knowledge in an international corporate fleet operation,” she explained.
A merger with another company led Calkins to the decision not to relocate with Wendy’s. She moved from the direct fleet manager role in to a sales consulting role with SaaS solutions for the fleet industry and hasn’t looked back.
“I love taking the knowledge of fleet operations and combining it with software solutions to provide actionable insights and to enhance operations. My current role at Geotab allows me to combine my knowledge and passion to truly help fleets measure and manage their operations for increased uptime and digitalize their operations,” she said.
As with many, Calkins didn’t immediately know what “fleet management” was all about but was fascinated by vehicles from an early age.
“I love the fast pace, fast evolving, data-centric industry it has become. We have been using IoT for business in the fleet and transportation industry long before anyone even knew that terminology. Data continues to innovate and move our industry forward and it’s fascinating to be at Geotab where I can continue to bring that passion to life,” she said.
One of Calkins’ top success stories connects to safety.
“When I think in terms of the impact to others, I would have to say it was implementing a driver training program while at Ohio University that ultimately reduced the number of crashes and I am sure potentially saved lives. We used to hand over keys to 15 passenger vans to 18-year-old students just entering college with no training and no experience,” she said.
Advice from Calkins? Don’t sit around. “Get involved in the various associations in our industry. There is so much value to be gained in networking and collaboration with our colleagues, you will continue to learn, evolve and grow in the industry through connections. Many of us start in the fleet industry with little knowledge, and I have found networking with other fleet professionals has been the best way to stay on top of the latest technologies and strategies,” she 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 Calkins’ favorites:
- Book: “Pride and Prejudice — it’s simply a classic,” she said.
- Movie: “Forrest Gump just hits every emotion,” Calkins said.
- Songs: “Don’t Stop Believing by Journey gets my blood pumping every time,” she said.
- You May Not Know: “I live on a hobby farm in South East Ohio, where we have been renovating and refurbishing an 1800s farm house,” Calkins shared.