Paula Diniz Oliveira, Zoetis: Defining Global Fleet Management in the Americas
Besides paying close attention to the culture and economy in the different countries they operate in, global fleet managers need to keep abreast of innovation and technology, says Paula Diniz Oliveira who is Global Head of Fleet for animal pharmaceuticals company Zoetis.
In my latest chat with the executive who is now based out of New Jersey, we briefly discussed objectives of the company this year as well as challenges for global fleet managers with a special focus on the comparison between Latin America and the United States and Canada.
First of all, could you tell me how many vehicles are you currently in charge of and which countries are they located in?
Oliveira: I am in charge of approximately 3,000 vehicles in over 43 countries. Besides the United States and Canada, they are spread out through Latin America as well as the EMEA and APAC regions.
What is your goal in terms of Zoetis fleet management in 2020 and how do you expect to achieve it?
Oliveira: My goal is to make sure our fleet operation attends Zoetis business needs in all aspects, mainly those related to functionality, safety and innovation.
First of all, our fleet needs to perform properly so that our field force can achieve their goals. In terms of safety, we need to be responsible and this means establishing and implementing an effective program to make sure our drivers around the world return home safely at the end of each day.
For innovation, tracking and controlling fleet operational costs through innovative tools is key. One example is the implementation of telematics we have done in some countries. We have seen great results in reducing costs and accidents, something that can be extended to other potential markets.
What is the main challenge of being a fleet manager at a global level and how can this be overcome?
Oliveira: I think one of the biggest challenges is to be tuned in with the speed of innovation and technological transformation in the market nowadays and to understand how to put this into practice in a highly complex corporate environment under different cultures.
Discussions about Internet of Things, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence are present in many fields today and this includes fleet. Questions like how Autonomous vehicles can transform our fleet or how we can make electric vehicles viable in our operation are things we should keep in mind all the time.
Besides this, it is incredible how implementing a new thing or project can be seen differently in each country. As such, it is very important to understand and respect culture as well as economic and social differences and then make the necessary adaptations.
Having people on my team - which includes the fleet providers we interact with – who understand this dynamic is one of the main factors to helping us overcome these challenges.
I’d like to focus on the Americas. What is the difference between fleet management in Latin America and fleet management in the United States and Canada?
Oliveira: Culture is one of the main differences. In the United States and Canada, vehicle leasing predominates the region while in Latin America, purchasing is mor prevalent and this is due to inflationary issues. Moreover, while we use finance leasing in the US and Canada, we use full-service leasing in Latin America.
Regarding electric and hybrid vehicles, they are more affordable in the United States. Besides having more vehicle models available, there is more investment in infrastructure and technology in the country.
Unfortunately, we still face challenges in having an electric vehicle fleet as our drivers commute heavily in remote zones where recharging infrastructure still lacks. We are confident, however, that we will get there soon. This reality looks to be closer in the US than any country in Latin America.
Other complexities of Latin America are issues related to taxes, legislation and inflation rates which can differ from country to country and this makes for a more complex operation throughout the region.
One interesting thing about Zoetis operations in Latin America is that our fleet often operates in large cities. As such, this gives us the opportunity to consider mobility options other than vehicles.
Finally, could you give me three key things to remember when preparing a vehicle acquisition tender?
Oliveira: Sure, when preparing a vehicle acquisition tender, a fleet manager must not forget the following:
- Make sure the tender process thoroughly describes the technical information of your fleet and mentions specific demands that the provider will need to comply to.
- Be aware of how competitive companies are when it comes to long-term contracts. What we want in FMC contracts is to build partnerships and being competitive is one of the keys to doing this.
- Check the performance of suppliers. Take a look at how they invest in technologies and safety tools and see how much they focus on sustainability.
Zoetis at a glance (source: Zoetis)