Can you give us a brief idea of your role?
I gained this role in October, 2017. The role involves managing a workshop which has five mechanics who service and maintain approximately 350 tools of trade and leading a team of 20 tradesman who look after the built assets of Liverpool Council. The equipment ranges from ride-on mowers to waste trucks. I also have an officer that works on approximately 300 passenger vehicles which we have through a fleet leasing company.
How did you get into fleet management? What path got you there?
I spent a good proportion of my career in hospitality, as a catering manager. I developed an interest in waste and waste management in that commercial environment. About eight years ago I saw a council advertise for a waste manager. I applied for it, I brought to that council skills they were specifically looking for — people management combined with business acumen.
I have a number of degrees, one is a master of business. There were 140 garbos and street cleaners — all men that had never had a woman manage them. I was quite an oddity in a depot environment. I evolved in that particular role to running facilities, and I gained a very good understanding of heavy plant. I saw the implications on council’s business — essentially rates and rubbish — of not having the equipment available, and the impact on my role and my team. Then about a year and a half ago I moved into this facilities role at Liverpool Council and with that came the workshop and fleet management.
What’s attractive about the industry for you?
It’s diverse. It’s interesting. It’s ever changing and there are so many opportunities for innovation, and to improve service delivery.
Do you think there’s any unconscious bias affecting women in the industry?
No, I think it’s a legacy issue. The legacy is that traditionally fleet managers were engineers or mechanics, and historically there weren’t a lot of women in that sector. But the role is much more complex and diverse today. The days where being a good mechanic meant you would be a good fleet manager are gone. Being under pressure with expectations to perform on tools is quite different to being under pressure and expected to perform when you have to write a council report or you have to investigate an accident.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Dealing with people. I like working with the mechanics and the trades. I like identifying somebody that shows an ambition. I like being able to say to somebody: “I want you to do a presentation; we need someone to present to a particular stakeholder group, you’re the mechanic, you’re the area expert why don’t you step up and tell these people why they need to do the pre-start checklist? I’ll talk to them about the legislation but you are the mechanic.”