Fleet Professionals Share Ideas, Find Solutions at IFA

Pic­tured: Gio­van­ni Tor­tori­ci, Pres­i­dent of A.I.A.G.A and  Group Sup­ply Chain Pur­chas­ing Man­ag­er for Bar­il­la;  Phillip Rus­so, CAE, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of NAFA; Erman­no Moli­nari, Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary and Trea­sur­er of A.I.A.G.A.; and Joe LaRosa, Direc­tor, Glob­al Fleet Ser­vices for Mer­ck, and NAFA’s Inter­na­tion­al Vice Pres­i­dent.

We’ve had sev­er­al weeks now to reflect on NAFA’s 3rd Annu­al Inter­na­tion­al Fleet Acad­e­my (IFA) that took place Octo­ber 21–23 at Loew’s Ven­tana Canyon in Tuc­son. As one of the two media spon­sors of the event, we had been pub­lish­ing news of the upcom­ing IFA for some months pri­or and as we watched the agen­da unfold, we knew that we were in for a treat. It was that… and much, much more!

The gold stan­dard in fleet edu­ca­tion…
NAFA Fleet Man­age­ment Asso­ci­a­tion is a not-for-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion run almost entire­ly by a ded­i­cat­ed group of tal­ent­ed fleet pro­fes­sion­als – mem­bers and affil­i­ates alike — who, in addi­tion to their “day jobs,” vol­un­teer time to the orga­ni­za­tion. And much of that vol­un­teer time is devot­ed to teach­ing. So, because of this high lev­el of exper­tise from sub­ject mat­ter experts, NAFA is wide­ly rec­og­nized as pro­vid­ing the gold stan­dard in fleet edu­ca­tion.

We talk with a lot of folks in the indus­try and we hear repeat­ed­ly how “nice” – how “giv­ing” peo­ple in fleet are. How fleet pro­fes­sion­als like to get togeth­er and frankly talk about their dis­ap­point­ments, their suc­cess­es, and their nag­ging chal­lenges. How many times have you heard a fleet pro­fes­sion­al tell you how some­thing they learned from a peer saved them time and/or mon­ey (and maybe enhanced their career)? We’ve heard it many, many times. And that sen­ti­ment was repeat­ed again and again dur­ing the IFA.

It was net­work­ing nir­vana…
Describ­ing the IFA in a nut­shell, Peter Egan, Part­ner at FleetVi­sion and a co-spon­sor with NAFA for the Academy’s devel­op­ment, said, “For the past four years NAFA has refined a results-ori­ent­ed Inter­na­tion­al pro­gram that gives its mem­bers use­ful ideas and cost-reduc­tion pro­grams that work. Ideas are can­did­ly exchanged, past expe­ri­ence eval­u­at­ed and new trends explored.”

Egan con­tin­ued, “Each speak­er pro­vid­ed ben­e­fi­cial nuggets and shared their own out­comes. It gave the new atten­dees an oppor­tu­ni­ty to ques­tion more expe­ri­enced glob­al fleet man­agers and eval­u­ate which process­es will be suc­cess­ful when they are applied to their own unique oper­a­tions.”

That approach made for a very live­ly sem­i­nar. The lev­el of enthu­si­as­tic inter­ac­tion in that room was amaz­ing – every­one had some­thing to share: a ques­tion, or a “how this worked for me,” or, fre­quent­ly, “meet me after the ses­sion and I’ll give you the name of the per­son to call.” It was net­work­ing nir­vana! And that was exact­ly how it was planned.

“From the start, we inten­tion­al­ly kept IFA at an inti­mate lev­el, restrict­ing atten­dance to no more than 40 peo­ple total,” said NAFA’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Phillip E. Rus­so, CAE. “We also want­ed to ensure that the major­i­ty of the audi­ence was fleet man­agers, so they could net­work and learn from each oth­er, as the real prac­ti­tion­ers of glob­al fleet man­age­ment.”

This plan res­onat­ed with the atten­dees. Joe LaRosa, US-based Direc­tor of Glob­al Fleet Admin­is­tra­tion for Mer­ck, Sharp and Dohme, Inc. and NAFA’s Inter­na­tion­al Vice Pres­i­dent, said, “The work­shop set­ting was superb as each of the atten­dees inter­act­ed at the tables as well as moved around and dis­cussed many of the top­ics dur­ing breaks and meals.”

IFA: Inter­est­ing Friend­ly Asso­ci­a­tion…
Gio­van­ni Tor­tori­ci
, Glob­al Sup­ply Chain Pur­chas­ing Man­ag­er at Bar­il­la and Pres­i­dent of A.I.A.G.A, Italy’s largest fleet man­age­ment asso­ci­a­tion and NAFA part­ner, said, “The feel­ing that ani­mat­ed the IFA 2013 has turned this acronym into Inter­est­ing Friend­ly Asso­ci­a­tion: a relaxed envi­ron­ment where it was easy to learn infor­ma­tion and meth­ods for inter­na­tion­al fleet man­age­ment. The shar­ing of ideas between Amer­i­can and Euro­pean fleet man­agers has paid off and has proven once again that by work­ing togeth­er we can build the future.”

It has only just begun…
“We are nev­er too old to learn new things as well as to deep­en our under­stand­ing of the mul­ti­tude of fleet top­ics we are famil­iar with,” said Joe Car­reira, UK-based EMEA Fleet Man­ag­er at Mer­ck Sharpe & Dohme, Inc. and 2012 Inter­na­tion­al Fleet Man­ag­er of the Year. ‘This event rep­re­sent­ed an excel­lent oppor­tu­ni­ty to improve our fleet knowl­edge and devel­op a wider net of fleet con­tacts as a source of future knowl­edge and assis­tance.”

LaRosa con­tin­ued, “I cer­tain­ly look for­ward to this event next year although this year’s IFA didn’t end with the conference…it has only just begun for the atten­dees — and NAFA IFA will be there to sup­port them all the way.

To learn more about NAFA or to obtain your copy of the new­ly-released Glob­al Fleet Guide, please vis­it NAFA’s web­site.

Jan­ice Sut­ton

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