This is particularly relevant to charitable organisations' fleet departments which are essential for supporting the charities' work in the field, but which are also an expensive cost centre. The 40-year-old British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, for example, runs a fleet of 200 minibuses, 70 vans and 60 cars which are used to help thousands of volunteers to improve their environment.
Martin Hall, BTCV's group fleet and insurance manager, has a Business Studies degree behind him, passed the Institute of Car Fleet Management Diploma last year, and was elected a Fellow of the ICFM in December 1998. He believes that if few companies would employ a finance director without an accountancy qualification, why should organisations recruit fleet managers without the relevant skills.
'Fleet Managers must become authorities in their field able to talk confidently at board level and to external suppliers. We must have industry standards,' said Hall. He found the 18 months spent studying for the ICFM diploma worthwhile, not only for the course's theory content, but also for the idea sharing networking opportunities when all the candidates met - the 11 students following his course had at least 150 years of fleet management experience between them.
'I use the term experience rather than knowledge, because I am the first to admit we will never get everything right, but it is invaluable to discover if anyone else has been down the road you propose and got it wrong,' concluded Hall.