What I've Learnt: Alphabet's Nigel Trotman
Don’t underestimate the value of networking
One of the main things I have learnt is how valuable networking with others within the industry can be. When I first started in the fleet industry, the only qualification I had was that I drove a company car, so my understanding of fleet management was pretty limited. But by regularly attending networking events, such as ACFO meetings, I found I was soon able to learn a lot and gain valuable insight and advice from the leaders in the industry. It’s a very tight knit industry, so there’s a real willingness to help others. This is something I’ve taken on board and tried to reciprocate to others.
For me, organisations like ACFO provide such a valuable platform for both learning and networking; they have supported me with my career development from the beginning.
Always seize opportunities
When I look back at my career, I realise how important it is to seize opportunities. Initially I never set out to be a fleet manager or even work in the fleet industry – I qualified as a librarian and worked in a local government library. However, opportunities soon came my way and I embraced them on a journey that took me through the world of what is now facilities management and into fleet; from public to private sector. If I hadn’t taken those opportunities I wouldn’t have got to where I have today, so it taught me that if you’re given an opportunity, to grab it with both hands. I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 25 years within the fleet world and I wouldn’t have swapped it for anything else.
The fleet industry never stops evolving
When I started out in the fleet industry, Rover was a market leader alongside Ford and Vauxhall, and BMW was a provider of cars to senior managers only. Nobody had even considered the Korean manufacturers as fleet suppliers, and if you had said electric vehicles would be making progress in fleets it would have provoked laughter. Who’d have thought CO2 emissions would become such a game changer?
Today, the world of business mobility is evolving at an exponential rate. Now we’ve got innovative new corporate car sharing schemes like AlphaCity, specific electric vehicle services like AlphaElectric, and will soon have autonomous vehicles on our roads. The industry has moved on so quickly that things that were once considered fiction have become a reality.
Don’t lose sight of the basics
The role of the fleet manager has changed dramatically over the past decade. Whereas traditionally fleet managers were solely responsible for managing a fleet of cars and those cars only, today the boundaries between fleet management, finance and HR are continuing to merge. While fleet management and the provision of fleet management services isn’t rocket science, it’s about common sense, consistency and getting the simple things right.
From my experience, too often organisations undervalue the importance of fleet management and getting the basics right. As a result, they run the risk of getting it wrong when it comes to more challenging areas like policy design and implementation, exposing them to hidden financial costs.
Drivers make their lives complicated
As a fleet manager don’t be surprised at the capacity of drivers to make their lives complicated. This can include finding ways to ‘beat’ the car policy, a total lack of common sense when operating their company car, and failure to take responsibility for their actions. I’ve always found that employees seem to lack respect for company vehicles, and it’s not until the vehicle is taken away that they realise its true value.