Top fleet management student Alex Wakeford picked up the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia Fleet Award for 2019. This was the inaugural award and was granted to the top scorer in the IPWEA Fleet Management Certificate course. Apart from the recognition the award gives to Wakeford, a plant mechanic at Bega Valley Shire Council, IPWEA also granted him attendance at its three-day fleet conference in Brisbane in March. Caroline Falls got a chance to talk with Alex about his ambitions to move from plant maintenance to fleet management.
Congratulations on your excellent studies. How did you find out about the fleet management certificate course which IPWEA has been running for about 10 years now?
I knew about the course because my supervisor had completed it. I sought it for further career development. It was my start to move onto the fleet career path.
What other qualifications do you have?
I’m a qualified plant and truck mechanic, with certificates in both light and heavy vehicles. I think you need to understand the running of plant, but working in fleet management is a lot more complex than being able to look after a workshop.
How old are you and when did you start to develop an interest in fleet management?
I’m 31 years of age. I’ve been interested in pursuing fleet management since I was about 27. I had a stint on light duties after recovering from a kidney donor operation and that’s how I got exposure to it. Since then, I started to fill in for my supervisor when he was on leave. I learned more about where the workshop sits in the bigger fleet management area.
What do you like about fleet management?
Coming from a technical background it allows you to use your skills acquired as a tradesman, in an office environment. There’s a lot of technology and innovation as well as managerial experience. I’m computer savvy and I like all that — capturing all of the data and the systems whether it be telematics or developing a specification, or determining whether to hire or buy. There’s so many variables, it’s just really interesting work.
I think you may have been the youngest person at the IPWEA conference. What do you think fleet management has to offer young people, or what do young people have to offer fleet management?
Younger people should look to it as a career, and it does offer a full career path for mechanics to pursue. Young people coming into fleet will help bring in more innovation. There’s a lot of technology being developed in the space and that’s something the younger generation can help keep current in the fleet workplace.