Tell us about NAFA’s Master’s Seminar coming up in San Diego in February.
From the 21st to the 23rd of February 2015, the place to be is San Diego for NAFA’s first ever Master’s Seminar. For years I have been hearing from long-time fleet managers that there is nothing out there for them. We finally put together a seminar for that group of people. We are looking for people with ten or more years in the industry. Maybe people who already have a CAFM or an advanced degree; or fleet professionals who want a real challenge.
We have put together an instructional team of outstanding fleet experts with more than 120 years of experience in the industry. The format for the seminar will entail taking a fictitious fleet’s data base and working on real world strategic level fleet problems as a group. So, it is a “roll up your sleeves and work” seminar. Come with your laptop and lots of energy and I hope to see you in California.
NAFA’s annual Institute & Expo is fast approaching. NAFA seems to top itself each year with its expansive curriculum. What’s in store this year?
Education and NAFA are one or two of my favorite subjects. I think that what I have witnessed over the last 15 years is tremendous growth and improvement in the area of education. The CAFM or certification program is now leaps and bounds ahead of where it was when I took the certification in the late 90s. We have kept all of the materials up to date and relevant; and, more than that, we have improved them. The program really is at a university standard and the certification program and all of NAFA’s education programs are the gold standard of the industry.
We have put together a curriculum for the upcoming Institute and Expo in Minneapolis in April. This curriculum surpasses anything that we have done in the past. This is a real accomplishment as I heard from many attendees that the last I&E we held in Atlantic City in 2013 was the strongest education curriculum that we have ever had. I think 2014 is even stronger and there is going to be something there for everyone. The goal is for every single person to leave there thinking that they just saw something new, learned something, or heard something they have never heard before. If we can reach that goal I think we will have done a really great job.
We know we have great educational products. Our Essentials of Fleet Management Seminar, which is our introductory seminar, and our Boot Camp, which is our crash course prep class for people to take the certification exams, are both great seminars. They are well-packaged. We have professional instructors who teach them; real industry experts who volunteer their time to pass on information to others.
The next logical step was to make these seminars more accessible to everyone. Until now, we have only offered these seminars between one and three times a year, and they are always co-located in locations where we are holding Board of Governor Meetings. That doesn’t work for everyone, so we have opened up these seminars to be hosted in alternative locations by NAFA chapters or NAFA affiliate organizations.
This means that a fleet management company can now buy the rights from NAFA to hold the seminar in any location they wish. They will still work with NAFA staff to set up the administrative side of the seminar and arrange for instructors. They will pay a set fee as well as instructor expenses and, in exchange, they can hold the seminar wherever they want, for an audience of their choosing. For example, I recently taught a mini-FMS for the Chicago chapter in their location. We are fairly confident that this is going to be a popular option for a lot of chapters.
What challenges do the chapters face?
You know, chapters are so important to NAFA — local interaction and networking is absolutely essential to NAFA members and affiliates. We often say that chapters are the backbone of the organization and I think that is absolutely true. Now, the challenge for chapters is that everybody is busy. The chapter volunteers are usually some of the busiest people and they have to plan a curriculum for a year that is going to be interesting and compelling for the people in their chapter. They have to meet the needs of so many different groups — corporate fleets and government fleets and affiliates. The challenge is to come up with speakers and topics that are so interesting that people can’t not come.
I’ve seen some great things happening within the chapters. For instance, the Western Canada chapter has a particular challenge of geography and it is not the only chapter that has that problem. They are very spread out and it is a fairly large chapter so their chapter chair, Jim Laverty, has started a program of webinars. On a bi-monthly basis, he holds a webinar and is getting great attendance. In September, their topic was fleet audits and we had a dozen or more points of presence on the webinar, and many of those locations had multiple people there. A number of NAFA’s trustees also took part in that webinar in order to see if it was a good model for other chapters around the country to replicate.
I think something that is going to take off is better use of technology, people being able to attend a NAFA meeting from their own office but still network, still talk to each other and not just sit in front of a computer screen without participating.
Another thing that we are doing is that when we hold a NAFA seminar in a location, we take that opportunity to meet with the local chapter, local affiliates and fleet managers. We did this in September in Vancouver, British Columbia as well as in Tucson at the International Fleet Academy. NAFA staff met with the Arizona Chapter to conduct a series of presentations on NAFA, Fleet Audits and Presentation Skills. There were 20–25 attendees in the room and everyone benefited from a good networking opportunity with NAFA’s national staff.
NAFA’s International Fleet Academy got glowing reviews from the attendees. What do you think made this event so successful?
I was involved with the organization of the seminar, helping finalize the agenda, and finding some of the speakers, so I was very interested to hear the early comments coming out of the seminar — all rave reviews.
This is the third year that NAFA has offered this seminar in this format and I think it is getting better and better. What I really liked was that people were saying they got something new out of it. They heard something that they had never heard before and in this case many of them were talking about the keynote speaker, Kent Rothwell from Sun Country Highways. His dream is for an electrified highway network that would allow you to travel in an electric vehicle anywhere in the world. The message that he left people with and the thing that surprised them the most is that due to his personal initiative and the work of his company with no government funding, you can now travel from Victoria, British Columbia to Newfoundland for free for zero emissions in a pretty reasonable time frame. I think most people were inspired by that message.
The strength of NAFA’s International Fleet Academy really is the forum that it provides for interaction. We had the right mix of fleet managers in the room with our supporting affiliates from all over the globe to make that interaction almost magical. So, you hear somebody from Italy raise a subject and the next thing you know a gentleman from the U.K., as well as some of our corporate fleet managers from the U.S., all have a response or feedback on that topic.
At the conference, Giovanni Tortorici, president of the Italian Fleet Association, came to us and said, “I am doing a conference on natural gas next week. Is there somebody in the audience that you can point out to me who has some expertise in the field?” I was able to pull out Cal Kretsinger from Ameren who was able to record a video on natural gas that will be played at the Italian Fleet Conference. This is a wonderful opportunity for NAFA to not only spread our reach but to allow our expertise to help people around the globe.
Lieutenant-Colonel (retired) Katherine Vigneau spent 26+ years in the Canadian Army holding various positions in logistics and transportation in Canada and abroad. From 1998 to 2001 she held the post of Fleet Manager for the Department of National Defence, responsible for policy oversight and management of a fleet of 32,000 vehicles. She most recently spent four years at the Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway leading the Logistics training of NATO forces before her retirement in October 2010.
Katherine completed her Professional Logistician designation in 1998, CAFM in 1999, CITT in 2001, Masters of Business Administration Degree in 2003 and Masters of Defence Studies in 2006. She has worked on various NAFA projects and has been the Vice Chair (2005–2007) and Chair (2007 to 2009) of the Certification Board, and Canadian Vice-President (2009–2010). For these volunteer efforts, she received NAFA’s Excellence in Education Award in May 2010. She is currently NAFA’s Professional Development Strategist.
Katherine retired from the military in October 2010 to open her own business, KMVS Fleet+ Consulting in order to work as a fleet and training consultant. Her clients include NATO, NAFA, the United Nations, the Canadian military and several other government and corporate organizations. She enjoys all sports, reading, traveling, and spending time with her husband, their seven children and grandson.