10 Jan 18

Evren Tosyali, Microsoft: "Creating efficiency by keeping it simple"

Evren Tosyali, Group Procurement Engagement Manager, Global Fleet at technology and IT giant Microsoft, is relatively new to fleet. Next to managing the procurement team of Middle East & Africa, Evren is since 1,5 year also responsible for the Microsoft Fleet Team, which coordinates and manages almost 10,000 vehicle globally. His views on his role, reacting to change and his ‘bucket’ theory, are both refreshing and illuminating.

How did you come into fleet?
"Based in my home country of Turkey and active in Middle Eastern procurement for Microsoft, I was then given the responsibility for fleet, to see what I could do differently from the past, and who knows, perhaps also better! I have two other people working with me – David Omodei who’s based in the Netherlands and Michael Pohl who sits in Germany."

What is the size of the Microsoft fleet now?
"Our total fleet is around 9500 cars, the majority of them being in European countries. But we also have significant fleets in Middle East and LATAM region and much less in Asia Pacific region. In total, we have cars in 60 countries. We have around 70 suppliers, so we have split the way our fleet is run into two main parts – David Omodei is in overall charge of car leasing companies and funding strategy, and Michael Pohl has responsibility about car policy and OEM supply management.

Why is it split like this?
"Because when I came into fleet I needed to learn a lot, and the way to do that is to listen to the experts around you. I had two experts who, like all good experts, are able to simplify the task for others. I saw myself as a sort of outsider, so they had to teach me. They spent hours explaining everything to me, and the way my brain works is to compartmentalise things – put them into small buckets if you like. It seemed to me to be totally logical to split the tasks – managing OEM’s is a completely different issue from managing leasing companies – completely different negotiations. This ‘bucketisation’ as I call it also helps greatly in enabling me to tell the fleet story not just to my own boss, but also to my customers, who are the fleet leads in the different countries and regions. I have to be able to tell the story to them in a simple manner. My ‘buckets’ help here, and everyone now speaks the same language and understands."

You said you have around 70 suppliers – are you looking to consolidate?
"We have too many, and we will be simplifying this. Once again, the objective is for simplification. It will not be the same in every country, but we are going to operate with less suppliers in countries where this is possible. This will already happen in 2018."

What is the strategy of the Microsoft fleet?
"If you look at companies which fail, it is often because people in them see that their core business is changing, but they are too heavily invested in their old way of working, to change their own departments. Fleet teams have to be relevant to their internal stakeholders, and this is my aim – to stay abreast of a rapidly changing world. My way of looking at the job is this: when people ask me how many cars we have, I prefer to answer not by saying ‘9,500’, but ‘9,500 employees with mobility requirements’. And these requirements are changing. I want the fleet team to be flexible and adaptable, and maybe eventually even merge into business travel."

Your cars are mostly ‘benefit’. Why is a procurement person heading this up, rather than HR?
"This stems from the fact that fleet has always been seen as being about supplier relationships, and therefore a procurement issue. But we work very closely with HR, especially when it comes to taking major decisions. And even that isn’t the end of the story – we have a system for surveys with our employees, finding out what it is that they want, what sort of cars, electrification, mobility… too. So it isn’t just fleet management and HR."

How do you see the role of fleet management evolving in terms of mobility, flexible contracts and so on?
"We have to respect different situations in different countries – in some, for example, a car is the main mode of transport and even a status symbol. We have to adapt, not just sit in our office and think ‘one size fits all’. A country like the Netherlands, for example, is open to public transport, e-bikes and others, whereas in Turkey, a car is a huge attraction."

With your holistic view, are you able to launch initiatives which are not cost-effective from day one, but beneficial in the longer term?
"Let’s start with the Microsoft strategy. This is to set up data centres around the world which act as servers for client companies, enabling them to use their own resources and servers more efficiently. We have the same mindset for cars, looking at them from an efficiency point of view, making better use of under-utilised resources."

Moving back to mobility, do you have mobility programmes – other than company cars – running successfully?
"Our most advanced country in this respect is the Netherlands, and here we are working on an app which will provide our employees with mobility options. This works as a mobility budget managed by an app. It will also be a learning tool. In other countries we offer an allowance rather than a car, but we are at the early stages of real mobility programmes."

With all of this, how do you see your fleet evolving around the world?
"Our largest fleets are in Europe, and I think they will get smaller as we introduce more mobility and efficiency innovations. In some other parts of the world fleets are tending to get bigger, but in overall numbers, this will not compensate for the shrinking European fleet. Our overall fleet will therefore get smaller."

And the future of the company car itself?
"I think the company car will evolve into a mobility solution, and we will be thinking not about company cars, but about how we are going to move our employees for business, for leisure, for commuting. So I see business travel, fleet management and mobility management all merging. This will be helped by technology – artificial intelligence, electrification, self-driving cars… the way we live, work and move in cities is going to change."

Tell us about technology and the use of it.
"I personally find it mind-blowing just how fast things are changing. What hasn’t necessarily happened yet is our ability to use the existing technology correctly. This applies to fleet managers as well, we need to get together and decide just how we are going to use the technology already available or soon to be available. We should be bolder, and make demands of the technology developers, not just wait for them."

If we meet again a year from now, what can I confront you with?
"We want to make all our suppliers GDPR compliant by May of 2018, and this is a procurement responsibility. If a supplier is not GDPR compliant by then, we will have to stop working with them. We will motivate and encourage them, because data privacy is a vital issue."

Authored by: Steven Schoefs