Tell us about your fleet and how you transitioned into the fleet management role at Intel.
I have been a fleet manager for less than a year now at Intel. I have a lot of supply chain experience with Intel and other tech firms but I wanted to do something completely different that still fostered the opportunity to grow and do different things and see the world. That path led me to fleet.
The fleet manager position at Intel is specifically for North America with a focus on trying to get some more standardization across the globe. It was an appealing area to me. You are dealing with car manufacturers, as well as policies, our legal and benefit teams. At Intel, the salesforce has a lot of passion associated with their cars. It is a very small group of folks that are involved in fleet at Intel around the globe, but it’s a good fit for me and has a lot of growth opportunities.
Intel’s fleet is primarily in North America, Europe, and Latin America, with smaller pockets scattered through the rest of the world. Our fleet is ~95% sales vehicles, with a small number of campus site vehicles. As for size, in North America we are in the range of 700 cars, Europe is around 1200 cars, and Latin America is at ~300 cars.
As a newcomer to fleet management, what has been your experience with the fleet industry?
The biggest observation that I have seen from the fleet industry is the wealth of knowledge and the willingness of people in the industry to share it. I have never seen this type of openness in other fields of business I’ve been involved in. People in this industry are willing to share everything with you.
From my perspective, it feels like the people involved in fleet are in a unique role, regardless of what company or industry they are in. In a lot of companies, the fleet business isn’t driving revenue, so the major focus of the company isn’t necessarily on the fleet management. So you have smaller group of people all doing something unique within their company, and these same people know what it can be like to be on an island managing a powerful business without a lot of inside help.
It is almost like a niche, and the folks in this niche are willing to help everyone else out since at some point they got a lot of help when they started. It is more of — hey, I started in this area and I didn’t have a lot of knowledge and I gained the knowledge from anyone and everyone that I could and everyone was willing to give it to me. I think that has been a big eye-opener for me from a fleet management and a fleet industry perspective for sure.
The first NAFA conference that you attended was the 2014 International Fleet Academy. What did you take away from that educational event?
My reason for attending last fall’s NAFA International Fleet Academy was to grow my knowledge in this area and to look into what we are doing globally. Fleet management at Intel has definitely been worked in silos from region to region, and I think we have some really great opportunities to break down these silos, drive some standardization where possible, and leverage our overall fleet better.
A term they use at Intel is BKMs, best known methods. How do we get some of those best known methods shared across the globe and look at getting some more synergy from policies, benefit packages, and possibly from the OEMs in volume incentives? How do we use our global presence to help Intel’s fleet management?
The International Fleet Academy has given me more insight on what is going on in the industry. It’s given me a look at what’s going on in different parts of the world, how fleets are managed differently depending on the location, and how to better implement a global strategy.
The other thing is just the networking. One of the things that I thought was interesting about this NAFA conference is the number of people. We are not sitting in a major conference hall where there a thousand people. We are sitting in a smaller room, with a more select group of people, where open conversations are happening continuously. The smaller size has allowed more open Q &A sessions, and with more involvement in the session. People in this environment feel more comfortable asking questions, and more comfortable providing insight from their perspective in this smaller environment.
The other perspective that I thought was interesting about this conference was the ratio of fleet managers to sales folks in the industry. I was able to have fleet management related conversations with folks faced with similar questions/issues at their companies. Everyone there was trying to get a better understanding of what is out there, what to look for and what we should be doing. There were sales people there, but it was a good mix, I would say, of people managing fleets and those selling products to fleets.