A life in fleet

Ray Brisby, CAFM, fleet manager for the Calgary Fire Department, receives NAFA’s Excellence In Education Award

September 12, 2018
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Ray Brisby became the Calgary Fire Department’s first-ever dedicated professional fleet manager in 2013.

From the August 2018 print edition

After decades of engagement with the world of fleet and mechanics, Ray Brisby, CAFM, fleet manager for the Calgary Fire Department, has been received the Excellence in Education award from NAFA. The veteran City of Calgary employee received the award at the organization’s Institute & Expo (I&E) in Anaheim, California last April. Brisby was the only Canadian to receive an award at the annual conference.

Receiving the recognition through the NAFA Excellence In Education award made him feel “truly humbled” to be named alongside some of the greatest and most influential fleet managers in the world who have been previous recipients, Brisby said.

“Being presented with NAFA’s Excellence in Education Award was a great honor,” Brisby said. “Those of us who dedicate our time to NAFA serving on various committees, and there are dozens of folks who do this every year, do so not for rewards or recognition but because we are passionate about the fleet industry and we want to develop relationships with other Fleet Managers so that we can share knowledge and ultimately help shape the industry for the future.”

Brisby began his career after finishing a certificate program in diesel mechanics from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in the early 1980s. At first, he worked in the private sector and earned a Journeyman trade license as a heavy-duty mechanic, but was eventually hired by the City of Calgary to work in the heavy equipment shop of the Mechanical Services Department (MSD). When the MSD Heavy Equipment and Truck Garage divisions were merged in 1995 (eventually becoming fleet services), Brisby advanced to a lead hand—and then shop foreman—role before moving into a managerial position in 2001. He worked as a maintenance controller, then team coordinator, before being appointed fleet maintenance manager in 2006. In 2013, he was selected as the Calgary Fire Department’s first-ever dedicated professional Fleet Manager.

Ray Brisby, left, receives NAFA’s Excellence in Education Award from the organization’s president, Bryan Flansburg.

“During my career I have also continued to develop my education by not only earning my CAFM designation from NAFA but also by completing the Ivey Leadership program at the University of Western Ontario, an Applied Management certificate from SAIT Polytechnic, an Accounting certificate from McGill University, and a Masters Certificate in Municipal Leadership from York University,” Brisby says of his professional and educational development.
Brisby has long been involved with NAFA and the organization has acted as an integral part of his professional development. He joined the organization in 2001 and began working through the courses, exams, and case studies necessary to earn the professional designation of Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM). As a not-for-profit association NAFA relies on volunteers to help develop and deliver their educational programs, says Brisby. So when the organization decided to hold a fleet management seminar in Calgary in 2010, and since he had his CAFM designation, NAFA asked Brisby to help facilitate some of the seminar content.

Exhilarated by this first teaching experience, and realizing that it was an excellent way to stay on the cutting edge of fleet management, he began offering his time volunteering with NAFA. “As the years have gone by I’ve taught over 80 individual classes at all levels, from the Essentials of Fleet Management Seminars, to CAFM curriculum boot camps and their Masters of Fleet Management workshops,” Brisby says. “I’ve also served on several NAFA committees responsible for working with scholars and top industry experts to develop and refresh education materials and curriculum, as well as helped to guide program direction as a member of NAFA’s Board of Directors and their Education and Credentialing Oversight Board (ECOB).”

NAFA has afforded him no shortage of benefit during his career in fleet, Brisby says. The organization is the world’s largest association for fleet professionals and the only one that offers a university accredited professional designation in fleet management. His involvement with NAFA’s educational offerings has allowed Brisby to continue his own learning while also developing relationships and sharing knowledge with the world’s top fleet managers.

The typical background of a fleet manager most often includes a trade, vehicle maintenance, or a business background such as accounting, procurement or engineering. Since all of these competencies are involved in fleet management, NAFA’s education and certification programs operate around a framework that teaches fleet managers the fundamentals of each discipline required to manage the fleet assets and mobility needs of their organization as effectively as possible, Brisby notes.

“I believe the programs offered by NAFA are very valuable because fleet management is a rather unique field that requires a very diverse skill set and NAFA’s education is targeted directly towards developing these skills,” he says.
A few decades working in and teaching about fleet has afforded Brisby with a front-row seat to developments and changes in the world of fleet and mobility. It has also given him a clear view of some of the trends on the horizon. The biggest shift in fleet management Brisby sees is towards a greater focus on mobility. That means, fleet managers are becoming more likely to hold responsibility for the movement of people and goods, rather than the traditional function of looking after rolling stock assets, Brisby says. This mindset shift will see many fleet managers using new technology and all sorts of alternative modes of transportation in a far more efficient and environmentally friendly way. There will be far less reliance on actually owning vehicles and all the complexity, cost and risk that accompany that ownership.

“This promises to be an exciting yet challenging time for fleet managers as many experts predict that the technology and mobility revolution we are entering may be as significant to society as when we moved from relying on the horse and buggy for transportation to the automobile,” Brisby says.

During his free time, Brisby enjoys working on projects in his garage, where he has restored several old motorcycles and snowmobiles. “I also enjoy spending as much time as I can with family and friends at our cabin near Burntstick Lake AB, hunting and fishing, or exploring the backcountry on my snowmobile or ATV,” Brisby notes.