Cynthia Walker, fleet manager & buyer, fleet/travel for the Financial Services Division of Caterpillar Inc., will retire on May 1, 2020. Based in Peoria, Ill., Walker was promoted to buyer & fleet manager in May 2010.
Her fleet management responsibilities involved managing Caterpillar’s enterprise leased vehicle program consisting of strategy, policy, sourcing, supplier negotiations, service delivery, and resolution of issues for site vehicles, field reps, managers, and executive transport.
In her dual role as buyer for global travel program for hotels and rental car, Walker’s duties consisted of sourcing, service delivery, supplier negotiations, resolution of issues, liaison between supplier, facility, and travelers.
Prior to this, Walker was the title purchasing analyst/travel/fleet & fleet administrator for Caterpillar from 2006 to 2010. In this position, she handled the day-to-day fleet issues, such as re-registration; location and storage of vehicles; driver questions; personal mileage, and assistance with ordering.
Among Walker’s accomplishments was her recognition as an industry subject-matter expert, such as her nomination in 2019 for Automotive Fleet Professional Fleet Manager of the Year Award. In addition, she served as a member of various fleet client advisory boards in the industry, such as those operated by LeasePlan USA and Enterprise Fleet Management.
Her first experience in fleet management was in 2009 when the world had turned upside down. “The procurement group at Caterpillar wanted someone to handle registration renewals, driver notifications, etc., and I was working in the travel category dealing with audits and someone felt I could take this on the side,” said Walker. “It was calculated to be only a six-hour job per month. How wrong they were.”
Walker graduated from Indiana University Kelley School of Business in marketing in 1981 and became an assistant buyer at Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta, Ga. “I worked there a short time and married my college sweetheart and we moved to Peoria, Ill., where he had just gotten a job at Caterpillar. He just retired from Caterpillar after 39 years,” said Walker. “Prior to joining Caterpillar, I worked various jobs. One of those jobs was a paralegal for a very old attorney. I had only been on the job a day and he had me representing a client’s son in traffic court! I only lasted three days on that job. I went back to school and got a degree in elementary education. I taught briefly, but by this time had three boys who required a lot of my time.
Walker joined Caterpillar in 2006 after closing the doors to her successful start-up business, known as Paper Moon, a premier scrapbook and rubber stamp store, which she started in 1998. “My store was one of the top 50 in the country when this industry was booming. I was very proud of my accomplishments in that industry also. I started something from nothing, and it became very successful. I won Outstanding Business of the Year 2002,” said Walker.
When asked what she considered to be her proudest achievements at Caterpillar, Walker replied: “I took a non-existent program and made it into a working, fluid fleet program. In many ways, I was Caterpillar’s first fleet manager. I have had to fight for the program and believe I have succeeded in creating a fleet program that is sustainable; however, I don’t know if I succeeded in teaching upper management that fleet is a category in itself and needs to continue when I leave.”
Walker said her retirement plans include traveling, hobbies, volunteering, spending time with her kids and grandkids. “I am looking forward to not trying to squeeze the things that bring me joy into two days of the week and being able to enjoy them all seven days,” said Walker.