New initiatives and structure are designed to help NAFA better serve its membership and the industry.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAFA was in the midst of a leadership change, yet when the coronavirus hit, it sped up some initiatives that were already in play while also causing us to re-evaluate other plans we’d thought about putting in place.
Overall, from a timing perspective, it has worked out well. Our membership continues to evolve, as does the industry. Electric vehicles and infrastructure issues, along with supply chain and data integrity, sustainability and vehicle-to-everything communications are some of the factors that are front and centre today and of major focus among many of our members. NAFA wants to ensure we can be proactive in providing best practices and solutions from thought leaders and experts that our members are able to take on board and implement.
There’s also the question of ensuring robust communication across our entire network, something that NAFA has been actively working on over the last several years.
We want to ensure that members are able to connect and learn from each other and also able to receive leading-edge and educational content from us no matter where they are, whether it’s online, through our events or publications. The goal is to create a community where people can post and ask questions, and are able to interact and receive feedback and support, no matter where in the world they happen to be located.
We’ve also been making changes to NAFA’s structure. Traditionally we have had independent chapters across the U.S. and Canada, but we’re currently undergoing a change to a regional format, where we’ll have six regions serving all of North America. A primary reason for this is to smooth and simplify administrative and financial duties and bring those within the realm of NAFA’s own staff. Doing so will free up our volunteers to focus on organizing events and initiatives.
Additionally, the regional format was designed to bring educational opportunities to areas that have been traditionally underserved, because they didn’t have a specific chapter and/or it was difficult to establish a chapter because of the incorporation process required. With the new format, the idea is to enable members in these locations to take part in all the events and initiatives, as well as organize simple meet-ups under the NAFA umbrella. It’s all part of our strategy to really position NAFA as a community for fleet managers and professionals that can chat and meet no matter where they happen to be. The pandemic really proved that we don’t always have to be physically present at meetings and events, and with the regional format, we’re expanding that approach by creating a structure that’s more in-tune with meeting the demands of the 21st-century fleet industry professionals.
In addition to this, NAFA has also been working on building professional leadership opportunities. In 2021, we held our first leadership experience and this year, the virtual event will culminate with an optional, in-person session in Washington, D.C. It’s really designed as a way to teach fleet managers leadership skills and guide their organization forward.
Last year, the topic was on change management, while this time, we will be focusing on ways to gain influence and harness innovation, not just within the realm of fleet management, but beyond, since we recognize that our members are often very influential within their organization. Ultimately, if we can help our members succeed, our organization and the industry it supports will continue to grow and prosper in the months and years ahead.
Bill Schankel, CAE, serves as Chief Executive Officer for NAFA Fleet Management Association, the world’s largest membership association for individuals who manage the vehicular fleet and mobility responsibilities for their employers. You can reach him at [email protected].