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Donal Eta: The Early Bird

Autosphere » Fleet » Donal Eta: The Early Bird

Donald Eta is one of the first to attain Sustainable Fleet certification.

With his achievement of NAFA Fleet Management Association’s Sustainable Fleet certification, the City of Vaughan’s Director of Fleet Management Services, Donald Eta, is “blazing a path for all fleet managers to follow, showing them that not only is being sustainable a good thing for our planet, but it can also be a good thing” for his employers, according to NAFA president Bryan Flansburg Eta was among the first-ever recipients of the certification.

“Sustainability is key to the future of any fleet program, and the learning points presented in the course synopsis looked to be a solid starting point to addressing the challenge of introducing a sustainable fleet at the City of Vaughan,” Eta said of the decision to pursue the certification.

“Beyond a focus on dollars and cents, I think it’s important to explore how to incorporate sustainable practices into your organization’s corporate practices and how to justify both the choice and the potential benefit. Since the benefits to sustainability are not always tangible, it can be difficult to convince people to give up what they know and understand to embrace new technologies.”

Comprehensive curriculum

Eta says topics covered during his full-day training, which concluded with an exam, included the importance of setting sustainability goals, strategies for reaching those goals, fleet sustainability metrics, integrating sustainability into policy, fuel diversification, the use of driver training and telematics in reducing fuel use.

He says his department will focus on and advocate for the benefits of sustainable fleet practices and the positive impact that will have on stakeholders, citizens and the environment.

Lessons learned

Eta, who assumed his current position for this fast-growing municipality just north of Toronto in 2016, formerly served as a fleet supervisor for Toronto Hydro and was once in the management development program at CN.

“Working at CN taught me two important lessons: the impossible is possible, and a focused and co-ordinated team is capable of great results,” he says. Although he didn’t anticipate the move into fleet management, he says he has always loved transportation machines, and cars have been a central part of that love, “largely due to my dad, who was somewhat of a car enthusiast.”

For Vaughan, in addition to making sure all city vehicles operate reliably and safely, Eta’s department also oversees legislative compliance and driver training; the department encompasses more than 300 operators on staff and more than 450 pieces of equipment and vehicles, from trailers, backhoes and snow-moving tractors to cars, pickups, vans, bucket trucks and dump trucks.

Passionate about change

“I’m passionate about the challenge of change,” he says. “My team and I are evolving and with that comes great possibility. They are excited by the work we are undertaking, which excites me. There is a great deal that we can do to support effective service delivery and drive continuous improvement to the benefit of Vaughan citizens. I am here to see that through.”

He considers it his responsibility as leader to make sure the team has clear goals, the training they require and the tools they need to be successful.

“Across the organization, departments must understand our business function and be educated on why fleet management is important and how it supports the corporation,” he notes, believing that successful fleet management is a corporate effort. “They must also share accountability in maximizing fleet performance and employee compliance.”

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