Anne Fitzgerald is fleet manager at northern NSW regional local government body Lismore City Council. Fitzgerald recently engineered a big shift by outsourcing the council’s light fleet. She talked about the transformative process at an IPWEA Fleet plant and vehicle management workshop in Casino. Fleet Auto News’ Caroline Falls caught up with her there.
FAN: What are some of the biggest lessons or takeaways from transferring part of the light fleet to a contract arrangement from an ownership model?
Fitzgerald: The biggest advantage has probably been improving contract management and that’s beneficial to the whole council. Another benefit has been better appreciating the costs of running each asset, and transferring accountability of those costs from the fleet division to the various units and program areas. We now know the true cost of service delivery and that’s come about through better data capture. We have improved our disposal process and have a much better understanding of the financial risks of under utilisation of an asset. The reputation of fleet within council has also been elevated as we have become enablers or service deliverers rather than managing the fleet.
FAN: Can you give us your history, of how you came to be in fleet management?
Fitzgerald: I was in the IT department as the web developer at Lismore from 2009 to 2016, when I was given the opportunity to work as a project manager for commercial services. I did that for a couple of years and during that time I was doing the procurement for the then fleet manager. When he resigned I was asked to takeover the staff management component of fleet and I said I wanted to have a go as fleet manager and I did that in an acting capacity for about nine months. I was successful when I applied for the role.
FAN: I can see from your talk that you have taken a project management approach to fleet. Can you talk about transferring your skills?
Fitzgerald: I’ve found a lot of similarities between fleet and web development or IT, so I’ve been able to transfer my IT skills to fleet management. I don’t have a mechanical background but my staff have all that knowledge and they have been able to communicate that to me directly, which has been really helpful.
FAN: I note here today apart from myself you are the only woman here. Is that a common experience for you, to be the only woman in the room? And, can you give us some insight into your experience?
Fitzgerald: In local government I think it’s quite uncommon for there to be a female fleet manager. I don’t know really the background of why this is so. But in saying that I have found everyone I’ve met in the industry to be very, very supportive. You can ask a question of pretty much any fleet manager in local government and you will get a reasonable answer. I’ve found it to be very supportive and very inclusive.