Kate Vigneau: Fleet Education is Her Passion

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.









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