Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: Recovery Program Manager Kevin Fuller

Kevin Fuller began his career as a consultant working with communities recovering from Hurricane Katrina. After completing his MBA, Kevin joined Hagerty Consulting’s Disaster Recovery practice. As a Recovery Program Manager, Kevin helps our clients confront their most complex challenges. We recently spent some time with Kevin as he discussed his career and what he has learned in his transition from an analyst role to a project manager.

Becoming a Disaster Recovery Consultant:

“There’s nothing quite like working on a disaster recovery project. My first post-college working experience after graduating from Georgetown in 2005 was working in a large consulting firm supporting a disaster recovery. My first day at IBM’s public sector consulting practice was August 29th, the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana. After getting an email looking for volunteers to be staffed on the Individual Assistance (IA) recovery out of Baton Rouge, I immediately responded “Yes”, which began a very interesting nine-month deployment involving tenting cities, rural parish police juries, and delicious (but not exactly healthy) Louisiana cuisine. While I move on to other federal projects in DC, the Katrina work I did was always the most memorable and rewarding.”

Kevin Fuller on site in Baton Rouge.

Joining Hagerty Consulting’s Disaster Recovery Practice:

“I was very thankful to work in the disaster recovery field again seven years later after obtaining my MBA and starting with Hagerty Consulting. My first project was assisting a large municipal client in their recovery from 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. While familiar, it was a much different experience than Katrina specifically, the role I was asked to play. Instead of being a “newbie” data analyst, I was a member of the Project Management Team, which afforded me visibility into all the background project management and administrative structures and processes that kept a massive recovery moving forward for our client.”

On Managing His Own Projects:

“In August 2015 I relocated to Hagerty Consulting’s Washington, DC office where I was able to see disaster recoveries and how they’re managed from a completely different angle. Instead of being a part of a project management team, I became the project manager for a portfolio of clients. This was a major shift for me and while I was prepared through my previous experiences, I had to develop a management approach that suited smaller municipalities and their needs. But the goal is still the same: get the community back on their feet and better prepared in the event of another disaster.”

Five Things He’s Learned as a Project Manager:

“While the issues and challenges can vary greatly from disaster to disaster, I still feel there are number of things to keep in mind that are universal from a project management perspective that will help keep a recovery on the right path. Here are five things I’ve learned as a project manager:

  1. There are no ‘small’ disasters – Not every flooding or tropical event causes as much widespread damage as Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy, but that doesn’t make the disaster any less real to the affected community. I’ve seen situations where a disaster is only declared for one county in a state, but that county had massive property damage and loss of life. Also, smaller communities might not have the same access to financial resources as their larger neighbors do, so working to identify an additional $10,000 here or $3,000 there in reimbursable costs can make a big difference for our clients.
  1. Build up your client – An informed client provides a better partner for collaborative decision making and strategizing long term recovery solutions. This means getting the client involved and training staff and decision makers on disaster recovery. At the very least, the client staff will be informed during discussions with FEMA and other recovery stakeholders and have the tools to be active participants as well, even if they can’t become subject matter experts overnight.
  1. Expect issues to arise and have contingency plans in place – Never assume that your project will go exactly as planned. Be critical of your own assumptions and realistic in your identification of risks in planning which may derail a recovery. It’s better to have alternatives solutions ready to go and never have to use them, then to not be ready if an issue actually arises.
  1. Make use of your resources – A large declaration with a large municipal client may have an abundance of resources easily available (insurance specialists, cost estimators, and other specialized capabilities), but smaller projects might not have the same level of dedicated resources to assist in the recovery process. Hagerty Consulting has as a wealth of institutional knowledge available to support our project managers and these resources are only a phone call away. I’ve never been afraid to ask for help and leverage these resources to assist with solving client recovery problems.
  1. Write it down and follow up – You never know what might be helpful down the line. What seems like an innocuous detail two months ago could be the key to something bigger later as the recovery evolves. For example, if someone from the police remembers a rental truck delivering ice to the disaster site, but they’re not claiming that cost, it’s important bring up that cost with other departments until it is identified.”

Kevin Fuller is a Recovery Manager for Hagerty Consulting, based out of our Washington, DC office. When he’s out of the office, he enjoys art history/museums, annoying his wife with his television watching decisions, and being continually frustrated with the state of the Georgetown basketball program. Hagerty Consulting is always looking for intellectually curious people with a commitment to the public sector to join our team. We want to learn more about you. Please visit our career site here to view open opportunities and apply.  We encourage you to share your expertise and interest to us by applying under the “Other Qualified Candidates” posting!