Guest blogger Matt Sager, CAFS, is the City of Austin's Contract Management Specialist and shares with us his personal philosophy for getting ahead in the fleet industry.
Motivational speaker (& CEO of Porsche for a time) Peter Schultz had a great saying: “Hire character. Train for skill.” I like to think my experience working in fleet industry reflects that expression.
My career has taken some interesting twists and turns over time. Early on, I had no experience on the business side of fleet. I barely knew what I didn’t know. Risk management? Asset management? Financial management? I understand what those words meant - but had little idea what those subjects entailed in the real world. I had to learn more.
What I did know is that I wanted to get off the shop floor. To do that, I would need to broaden my knowledge and increase my human capital. The only option I had was to study. I turned to the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA). I thought NAFA’s professional certification program could be what I was looking for. They offer accreditations as both Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM), and Certified Automotive Fleet Specialist (CAFS).
However, the cost of the CAFM certification was a consideration. I had to ask myself: Am I sure I want to spend money on the program with no guarantee of advancement? Am I even sure I want to stay in the automotive, or fleet, field at all? I thought about it. I prayed about it. I ultimately decided to bite the bullet and pay for a NAFA membership and the CAFM program. I was lucky that the NAFA Expo was in my city of Austin that year and offered bootcamps for every discipline. When the classes started, I was immediately inundated with information. I printed up all the study materials and tried to follow along. At the end of the week, it was time for testing. I crammed the most I had ever done since college.
I ended up passing 6 of the 8 disciplines, which certified me as a CAFS. I wasn’t disappointed about not passing all eight. I learned a lot and was now certified!
I saw this experience as proof of two things. First, I did have a great deal of knowledge of the business side of fleet. Second, it showed that I was committed enough to even try.
Ultimately, my aim is to be at the higher realm of fleet decision-makers. I don’t think I would be able to get where I am, and certainly won’t be able to get where I want to go, without NAFA’s help.
Initiative is a great metric by which to judge someone, especially in business. That way of thinking helps me to articulate my value to upper management. And taking a leap doesn’t intimidate me too much anymore.
Did you know you can earn NAFA's CAFM and CAFS credits toward re-certification by participating in Agile Fleet events, speaking on a panel or guest blogging? Learn more.