2014 Fleet Forum Conference Opening Day: Bringing Fleet Management Excellence to Life

“A good plan is not enough.”


With the challenge that execution—not strategies or plans alone—is what determines excellence in fleet management and operations, Vicente Escribano, Head of Supply Management and Logistics Service for UNHCR, set the tone for the 12th Annual Fleet Forum Conference, which opened in Budapest on 2 April 2014. On behalf of UNHCR, the host for the 2014 conference, Escribano welcomed the members of Fleet Forum with his stirring words, and promised that during the 2½-day conference that was to follow the dialogue would be focused, instructive, and inspiring.

Mike Watson, Shell Global Road Safety Manager, immediately took up the theme of clarity in execution with his keynote to the conference—insisting that the culture of an organisation drives excellence. He detailed the organisational commitment that Shell has made to implement a simple list of 12 rules that have dramatically improved their safety standards, and the company-wide impact it has had in a relatively short period of time.


The presentations and workshops that filled the first day of the conference brought the theme of “Executing Fleet Excellence” into clear focus, and frank discussions marked the workshops, the general sessions, and the interaction between meetings. “The Fleet Forum Conference is a really important event because it gives us an opportunity to meet key suppliers and colleagues in the other agencies,” said Rob McConnell, Fleet Specialist and charter member of Fleet Forum. “We are all doing the same business in a different way. We share information, we share knowledge, and it’s a great networking opportunity.” As an example of the kind of information that is discussed and shared with Fleet Forum members, McConnell, along with his colleague Ketil Hov, Head of Procurement for UNHCR, presented a very large and comprehensive program for reducing the overall size and age of the UNHCR fleet that was brought online in just one year and will result in a much more efficient, safer, and cost-effective fleet.

Lukas Nel, World Vision Global Fleet Coordinator and Fleet Forum Board member, echoed McConnell’s sentiment, particularly as it relates to collaboration: “We need to bring the NGO and corporate communities together; we need to be excellent in fleet management and fleet safety. It is great having all the knowledge and skills together from all of these participants—and it is very good for working together in the long term.” Nel joined Fleet Forum Board Chair Bas Janssen in leading the discussion of the future of Fleet Forum that capped the events of the first day—the exploration of a new membership strategy that will both ensure the ongoing work of Fleet Forum and open up new opportunities to serve and make a difference for both the aid and development organisations and corporate partners.


The conference this year has 92 participants, representing fleet management staff from the aid and development sector, corporate sector, academia, funding agencies, and suppliers. Phil Jones, Fleet Development Delegate with the IFRC succinctly summed up the importance of Fleet Forum with his description of the significance of the conference: “Best practice. Sharing knowledge. Networking. Catching up with our friends.” These concepts  get to the heart of the work of Fleet Forum.

DSC01489“When Fleet Forum began in 2003, it served about 40 people in the first year,” said Paul Jansen, Fleet Forum Executive Director. “This year we have the highest attendance of members ever at a Fleet Forum, and will serve nearly 5000 people. The opportunity for collaboration on fleet and safety issues will also continue to grow—and we want to be on the forefront of bringing the right people and ideas together. We want to be the convenor and provider of solutions and tools for organisations that are committed to continuous improvement”

“When it comes to safety there is really no anti-trust,” says Mike Watson. “We are all in this together to try to save lives, learn from one another, collaborate, and collectively work together.”

The conference will continue through Friday.