Meet Carla Garfinkle, Donlen General Counsel

“We have a ‘yes’ attitude at Donlen, and we bring that to every aspect of our customer relationships, even in the legal group.”

donlen-carla-garfinkleThis week, FridayFleet® sat down with Carla Garfinkle, Donlen’s General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. Since joining Donlen in 2003, Carla has been actively involved in business expansion and product development. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, Carla is instrumental in helping to shape Donlen’s strategic direction.

Carla spent the first decade of her legal career at Skadden Arps where she specialized in acquisition finance, project finance, commercial lending, and securitization transactions. She then moved to Katten Muchin where she and several of her partners established and developed a cutting edge national securitization practice. Carla graduated Magna Cum Laude from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1988 where she was Editor of the Law Review and Order of the Coif. She has been featured in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, and was the recipient of the 2011 First Chair Award as Top General Counsel.

Anyone who works with Carla knows that she’s incredibly smart, very witty, and never afraid to speak her mind. But even we were surprised by what we found out!

What brought you to Donlen?

I had taken several years off from practicing law to raise my children. When my youngest was 3, I received a call from one of my former law partners telling me that he had a client that was looking to bring senior level legal talent in house. Fortuitously, he was talking about Donlen! He believed that I would really like the business and the people. At the time, I wasn’t sure I was ready jump back into the workforce, but decided to meet with folks at Donlen and learn more about the company. I was extraordinarily impressed with Donlen and quickly realized what a unique opportunity I was being given to be part of such a special place.

You’ve been involved in so many projects here. Can you choose three that you’re really proud of?

First has to be our acquisition by Hertz. It was a very long and exciting process, and it was gratifying professionally andpersonally. From the beginning, I felt like it was the natural progression for Donlen. The opportunities for growth with an outstanding company like Hertz are unlimited. It also enhances my own professional development to be able to work with Jeff Zimmerman, the Hertz General Counsel, and the rest of the Hertz legal team. The whole experience has been great. Next, structuring the legal framework for our fixed term leasing platform. Mike Lewis built up this area from scratch and it was great to work with him to realize this vision. I particularly enjoyed helping to establish the syndication structure that we use to finance our fixed term leases because it enabled me to draw on my structured finance expertise and added a very creative dimension to my practice here. Finally − although this isn’t really a project as much as an ongoing part of what I do – I genuinely enjoy working directly with our customers. Everyone at Donlen plays a part in the customer experience, even those of us in legal. We deal with consummate professionals at our customers who generally have a clear vision of what their company would like to achieve by starting or expanding their relationship with Donlen. I try to make sure that our legal documentation reflects their business understanding and objectives. We have a ‘yes’ attitude at Donlen, and we bring that to every aspect of our customer relationships, even in the legal group.

What do you see in Donlen’s future?

Wow. So much. Tom [Callahan, Donlen President] is the right person for Donlen at the right time in our history. We share a great respect for Hertz and its commitment to integrity and excellence. Donlen is already an industry leader and we are perfectly positioned to take advantage of the vast resources and best practices embodied in our new parent company. Tom has successfully run businesses within public companies prior to coming to Donlen, so he has the expertise and professionalism to take Donlen to the next level. He has already implemented process improvements and new strategic initiatives that will further enhance the customer experience at Donlen and increase job satisfaction among employees. I am also looking forward to further global expansion so that we can provide an even more integrated fleet solution for our multi-national customers.

What’s your leadership philosophy?

Tom has a mantra that I completely agree with: One Donlen. I tell everyone in the legal department that we are all on every internal Donlen team and our goal is to enable each business unit to achieve its goal and ultimately to enhance the customer experience. Although Donlen is no longer owned by the Rappeport family, we are still a family business in the sense that we are one community with shared objectives. I love working with all the Donlen employees. We find ways to make each other better and therefore make the business better.

So what do you like to do when you’re not working?

Well, I have two teenagers at home and I love spending time with them. Currently, I’m teaching my son to drive! Also, I’m writing a book.

No way! What’s it about?

It’s fiction – called Outsider Trading – about a woman lawyer framed for insider trading. She’s in jail and reflecting on her life, trying to figure out who would do this to her, and why. It is also a statement on interpersonal relationships within a broader social framework. The homeless people she befriended in law school overhear a conversation with the person who framed her and help her to prove her innocence.

Are you the heroine in the book?

I would say that that I’m drawing heavily on my experiences to create a character to tell a story. I try to give the reader a sense of the unique challenges that face female professionals and even share some funny incidents from my own past.

So when is it going to come out?

Probably not until I retire! Between work and my kids it’s hard to find time to write as much as I would like.

Who is your role model?

Elizabeth Warren is my hero and role model. I share her philosophy that the financial sector and, frankly, the entire economy, is strengthened when we actively protect and promote the interests of the ultimate consumer.

Thanks Carla, we look forward to seeing you on the bestseller list!

Carla can be reached at 847-412-5208.


Updating MCS-150 FMCSA Information

All motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce are required to file an updated form MCS-150 (Motor Carrier Identification report) every two years or if company information changes. This information needs to be updated at least every other year (biennially). Therefore, if 2010 information was the last update, you must do so shortly with your 2012 data.

If your Power Unit (PU) and Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) data in FMCSA’s database is older than 2010, it will not be used in your calculations when the January SMS snapshot is posted in early February. If that’s the case, the FMCSA will use the average PU for the previous 18 months. Not having current data can negatively impact your percentages in the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs.

How to update your MCS-150

If you have questions regarding your compliance, contact Steve Jansen at 847-412-4961.


FleetWeb® Tips

Get a breakdown of all charges billed to your account in FleetWeb.donlen-fleetweb-datamart-billing

  • Open “DataMart/Reports” located in the Reporting Section
  • Select “Finance” from the Report Group (if you don’t have access, contact your Account Manager)
  • Choose “Rental and Nonrental Expenses by Month”
  • Run report and enter date range

Hertz Value Lease™ Deal of the Week


donlen-hertz-value-lease-ford-escape-01132012 Ford Escape XLT*

  • Estimated Mileage: 23,217
  • Exterior Color: Gray
  • Hertz Value Lease Base Price: $20,266

*Vehicle was available at the time of posting to FridayFleet. The exact vehicle may not be available after this date. Photo of vehicle is for illustrative purposes only. Contact your Donlen Account Manager to learn more about Hertz Value Lease vehicles that may be right for your application.


Driver’s Corner

A recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control said that 4.2% of adults admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at least once in the previous month. Think about that for a moment: you’re driving along on the road with 99 other vehicles, and four of them have fallen asleep. The lead author of the report thinks that the actual number may be higher; you can actually fall asleep for a second or two and not even realize it. If you’re sleeping fewer than six hours or less a night, fall asleep throughout the day, or snore at night, you may be more likely to fall asleep while driving. So be sure you’re well rested each time you get behind the wheel.


And Finally…

Falling into the category of automakers crossing over into uncharted waters, check out luxury brand Aston Martin’s Voyage 55 yacht concept. (See what we did there?) The design is sleek, and obviously inspired by their iconic on-the-road vehicles. It looks fast just sitting there in the pictures! We think the design is beautiful, and would love to see it skimming along Lake Michigan as we drive down Lake Shore Drive.

Have a nice weekend. Safe travels.

Originally appeared in FridayFleet on January 18, 2013


About Donlen
A wholly owned subsidiary of The Hertz Corporation (NYSE:HTZ), Donlen (www.donlen.com), with headquarters in Northbrook, IL, is the fleet industry’s most comprehensive and integrated provider of financing and asset management solutions. Since 1965, Donlen has offered its clients highly personalized and responsive customer service, and their workplace excellence has been recognized as one of Crain’s Chicago Business “List of 20 Best Places to Work in Chicago” each year from 2009-2011, a Leader on “The Global Outsourcing 100®” list by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) for six of the last seven years, and a National Association for Business Resources “101 Best and Brightest Places to Work For in Chicago” each year from 2007-2012. Donlen’s innovation has been awarded with the Computerworld “2012 Honors Laureate for Economic Opportunity,” named to “2012 InformationWeek 500” for innovative technology; the Stevie® “2012 Gold Award for Business Intelligence Solution,” the Silver Award for “2012 Front Line Customer Service Team of the Year,” and the “2011 Corporate Environmental Responsibility Program of the Year.”