“Providing funding and fleet management services to over 125 customers in the UK, there’s never a dull moment” says Rachel.
“Essentially my role at Holman is to ensure the integrity of our compliance product, to support our customers where needed along with my colleagues on the more complex aspects of regulatory compliance and to appropriately protect our customers and Holman.
No two days are the same – from assisting our operational teams on MOT testing requirements in Northern Ireland, to helping clients navigate O Licence Regulations, to auditing vehicle document files. Over the last 9 months, I have been co-leading a project to implement our new Holman Compliance Management System, future proofing the way we manage fleets for our customers and bringing them efficiencies at every turn.”
So, where did it all begin for you, I ask Rachel. “My dad,” she replies. “While out with him on the road in my holidays, I told him I was going to drive a big articulated truck. His reply of, Yeah, right, was all the motivation I needed. I’ll show him, I thought.”
Rachel explains that she went on to get her Transport Manager National and International Certificates of Professional Competence and well as her C+E driving entitlement at the age of 21 and has been working in various roles in the industry ever since.
On reflecting on her time spent working as a National Training Instructor, I asked Rachel what it is about sharing her knowledge and support to inspire others that she found so rewarding.
“Having worked in the industry for several years by then, it felt good to give something back to it,” she says. “Sharing your knowledge and understanding is hugely rewarding, especially when you know it genuinely helps someone to upskill and improve their own cause. There is something magical about watching a light bulb come on in someone’s head.
Explaining to a driver why it is vital to complete the first use checks regardless of the vehicle size/type, helping them to do what is right not just for them, but for the safety of their families, colleagues, and other road users, and to be part of someone’s professional journey is a huge privilege.”
Rachel is clearly passionate about inspiring others, and I want to know to know who inspired her during her career. Rachel smiles as she tells me “so many people have, to whom I am forever thankful. The immediate ones who spring to mind are:
- Nick Caller, my MD at Holman UK – a hugely inspirational and effective leader who has clear vision and business values that drives us all to want to improve &
- Mark Cartwright, for his passion and dedication to the van sector of the industry.
- Alison Moriarty – just for being her, for her wisdom and a wonderful example of what can be achieved when you work hard!”
I ask Rachel to tell me what it felt like when she was awarded the FTA Van Champion of the Year Award in 2019. She coyly replies, “it was a bit surreal to be honest. To be recognised for doing what is essentially your day job is lovely, but I don’t think I did anything more that most Transport Fleet Managers do every day, all day.
It was nice to be recognised after having been passed over for promotion and jobs in the past, being told that ‘women cannot manage trucks and drivers, that’s just wrong’. Thankfully, all these comments did do was make me stronger. I spent 6-months driving different vehicles operationally to experience the job & to help me understand the pressures and difficulties. There is nothing better than putting on your safety boots, hi-viz and hard hat and getting your hands dirty to earn the respect of your team, colleagues, and peers, in fact it is enlightening!
There still a very small pocket of the ‘old school’ mentality but the majority understand that the industry has changed, and everyone is now welcomed with open arms. Women are much more visible and successful now and so they should be, we have a great deal to offer this wonderful industry and it is hugely encouraging to now see women in very senior positions.”
What advice would you give to ‘a young Rachel’ coming into the industry now, who may be daunted by the responsibility and compliance requirements surrounding them, I ask.
Rachel laughs as she says, “Wow, what a question! Not to give up, the best journeys are up, down, and twisty. To embrace the complexities of compliance and responsibility and to never fear asking a question or asking for help or explanation. The only stupid question is the one you do not ask!
I also think that doing all you can to better yourself and continual professional development and learning is hugely important. Legislation is changing all the time so it is vital to make use of all the tools you can to remain updated and ahead of the curve. Attending industry briefings and events will not only keep you up to date and well informed but also help you to build a strong network of like-minded peers. Never forget the great array of resources that can support and assist you available from Driving for Better Business and National Highways, DVSA’s Earned Recognition, FORS, and trade associations – there is plenty of information out there today.”
Some wise words from Rachel and we wish her well as she goes off to advise another customer on the complexities of the industry.