“More than ever, being able to adapt is a vital skill”
The post-Covid period brings several challenges for global fleet managers. Jean-Philippe Caraës, the 2020 winner of the Global Fleet Manager of the Year Awards, shared his views on the upcoming changes for his former colleagues and incumbent. After winning the Global Fleet Manager of the Year Award, Jean-Philippe Caraës made promotion and moved from Liechenstein to Panama. He is now Regional Segment Manager for Hilti Latin America
Mr Caraës says his experience as a fleet manager gave him a better perspective in understanding customers. We talked to him about his experiences since winning the award and how he sees the fleet industry now from this new perspective.
How has the Global Fleet Manager Award supported your career and your vision of the global business?
“The award was a great testimony for the good work at Hilti with our global fleet management programme. Though anecdotal, it did not hurt that the award ceremony happened two weeks before our internal yearly "people review", where career development is discussed for each employee.”
What learnings from your fleet career did you take with you, that you could apply in your new role?
“Interestingly, during the interview process for this new position, I made multiple comparisons between the role of a global procurement manager and that of a regional sales manager: strategic thinking, negotiation skills, global to regional to local collaboration within our company and towards external stakeholders. Those are only examples of professional skills that are common for both positions. I am really sitting on the other side of the table now, so I like to think this gives me an edge in anticipating what a customer will want to see and hear. I am using all of my previous experiences to add value in this new role, from supply chain to marketing, passing on the experience from the procurement roles I have had in the past.”
What skills and lessons are vital for global business success in crisis times?
“More than ever, being able to quickly adapt has proven to be a vital skill. Disrupted automotive supply-chains, new ways of working (remotely for most of us), less vehicle usage across the driver base, massive uncertainty regarding returning to normal, all of this has led to having to adapt in multiple ways to limit the further impact on our balance sheet. At the same time, we were not able to go out and sell.”
Looking back at your fleet career, what was the most challenging region to manage and why? And what did you do to overcome that?
“I cannot single out one region since all are different and require a slightly different approach. The key is to set precise guidelines but leave enough space for local teams to adapt to their needs and requirements. There is no point in setting a mandatory global rule if it becomes detrimental to our markets. To take a basic example, not all brands or models are equally available worldwide.”
What is your main tip in terms of global supplier management?
“Quality definitely primes over quantity, so I’d recommend focusing on a selected few battles to work on with your partners each year to make significant progress.”
Do not forget to subscribe to the Global Fleet Conference on 2 December, where global fleet managers will share best practices on global fleet management efficiency. You can register here.