As someone who is still very new to the public sector fleet industry, I've enjoyed speaking with people who have lived and breathed fleet. I've heard so many inspiring stories from those who lead fleet teams. Some of those people started out as mechanics, others followed in their family's fleet footsteps, and others never planned to be fleet managers but found themselves in that position and falling in love with the career.
These people have been movers and shakers in an industry that is anything but easy. They’ve soldiered through shortages and cancellations while continuing to lead their fleets through trying times, such as COVID-19. I have leaned heavily on these fleet experts as I began my own journey into fleet, albeit on the other side looking in. But as we all know, nothing is forever and those roles go through cycles.
However, filling a role in fleet management should never be taken lightly. This person is meant to be someone who not only knows the fleet industry but the people in it. They have to be someone who can plan ahead in case unexpected events happen. They have to know how to rally a team when resources are limited and no one can find answers to questions. And I don’t think any of this can be done without a strong passion for the industry.
From what I’ve witnessed, much of that passion comes from simply being in the industry for an extended period of time. Spending that time to really understand what the industry is about and why those who have gone through the same journey have stayed.
I also feel there’s a flip side when bringing in that next generation of leaders: where do we find these people? I believe that many of them are already in the fleet world in one capacity or another. Leaders do not always start out in a place of management but rather in a position of learning and understanding that journey. Some of the greatest industry leaders I’ve met are great leaders because they understand what it means to start at the bottom and they never forget where they’ve come from.
I know many fleets are expanding their reach to bring more young adults into the industry through career fairs, training programs, and open houses. I love this not only because it gives those people a better look at what’s going on but it also gives those in a position of hiring power to see the different personalities looking to get into the field. And maybe they don’t fit the traditional mold, whatever that may be. That can be a good thing.
Maybe we’ll have a new generation of fleet leaders who are super engaged with their community through social media, maybe others will have a vivid tech background while others are champions for new standards in fleet. And during times of transition, I would advise to keep an eye out for the people with passion, the movers and shakers, and the individuals who aren’t afraid of growing pains. As many of us have talked about before, the world of fleet is changing, so why wouldn’t the people in it change as well?
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