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Recent CAFM Grads Weigh In on Unexpected Benefits

By Carla Kalogeridis

Fleet professionals pursue their Certified Automotive Fleet Manager designation for a variety of reasons — professional development, new to the field, to help earn raises and advancement, or to make themselves more attractive on the job market. Whatever the motivation, they all say the program surprises them in one way or another.

Ernest Garcia, CAFM, director of fleet and business systems for Gothic Landscape, is a recent program graduate who celebrated his achievement by walking the stage in person to receive his CAFM certificate at NAFA’s I&E conference in San Antonio in April. “One of the unexpected benefits of the CAFM program is the rare air you are in within the industry,” he says. “It’s a select few that accomplish this, and it’s knowledge I put to use every day. You really learn to see things from all sides, and as a result, discover the best ways to have an efficient, safe, proactive fleet.”

Carisha Kieh, CAFM, another recent graduate who walked the stage at I&E, agrees. “As someone who works in fleet management on a daily basis, I’ve come to appreciate the practical application of the knowledge I’ve gained from studying this curriculum,” says Kieh, account manager, fleet administration, for Wheels Inc. “When the opportunity arises to implement these teachings, it’s like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, creating a more comprehensive and accurate picture.”

Kieh says even seasoned fleet professionals should not be surprised that they can benefit from the CAFM program. “It’s natural to excel in one area of the fleet and be less knowledgeable in another,” she points out. “This program, however, encourages you to consider all core areas, fostering a more holistic understanding.”

The CAFM program is the most prestigious designation that a fleet professional can achieve. It covers eight robust certification modules including Asset Management, Business Management, Financial Management, Information Management, Maintenance Management, Professional Development, Risk Management and Vehicle Fuel Management.

Recent graduate Ross Jackson Jr., CAFM, fleet operations superintendent for the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas, also attended I&E to receive his CAFM certificate in person. He was surprised by the clout that came with earning the designation. “Achieving the NAFA CAFM has allowed me to be seen as a knowledgeable professional and leader within in our local fleet community in Northwest Arkansas,” he says. “Afterward earning the CAFM, I have had a number of other local fleet professionals reach out to me, allowing us to share notes and continue to grow in our field.”

Garcia had a similar experience in seeing the CAFM’s benefits to his career. “I had a vendor I just met ask me, ‘Have you heard of NAFA? They have a great CAFM program.’ It was a proud moment for me to tell him I’ve already obtained my certification.”

Fresh from the battle, these three graduates have some advice for other fleet professionals currently working toward achieving the CAFM designation.

“Once you start don’t stop or take breaks. Sometimes it’s hard to get going again once you do,” says Jackson. “Read the information thoroughly and use the study guide completely because there is a lot of great information in the course work. I read it all and wrote down study guide answers in a notebook. If you have a commute, listen to all the bootcamps while you drive. We all learn differently, so read, write, watch, and listen. One of those methods will have something that causes it to sink in better.”

“It’s crucial to not let exam retakes discourage you,” advises Kieh. “Instead, maintain a positive mindset, focus on the areas you missed, and dedicate more time to studying them. Try to connect your learning to your daily work and the systems you interact with regularly. Personally, I found that this approach significantly improved my retention and application of that knowledge during testing.”

In the end, as with any worthy achievement, commitment and perseverance are key. “Keep at it. The feeling of accomplishment once completed is amazing,” says Garcia. “Walking the stage with and being recognized by your peers is a surreal experience. Keep going. You’ll be happy you did.”

See the complete list of this year’s CAFM graduates here. We encourage you to learn more about the CAFM program and NAFA’s numerous resources to help you achieve it.