Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog


October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NSCAM), and, throughout the month, we are highlighting Hagerty employees working to support our cybersecurity needs. During this fourth week of NSCAM we highlight Erin Bajema, a Managing Associate on Hagerty’s Preparedness Team and a Cyber Deputy on Hagerty’s Cyber Team.

Briefly tell us about yourself – how did your career path lead you to Hagerty Consulting?

I started with Hagerty as an intern in our Austin office immediately after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies from St. Edward’s University in June 2018. I had worked for the non-profit sector previously, but I had no experience in emergency management. From there, I was able to learn all about the field hands-on, by jumping headfirst into a variety of preparedness projects as an intern, and then as an Associate in our Evanston office starting in August 2018.

I’ve been able to work on a diverse range of projects since then, from plan development on topics like pre-disaster recovery, damage assessment, cost recovery, post-disaster housing, and cybersecurity—to exercise design and facilitation. Coming into the field with fresh eyes allowed me to really think critically about the role of emergency management, and to learn and develop my own expertise by doing, which was perfect for me as an experiential learner. I was promoted to Managing Associate in January 2020, and since then I’ve had the opportunity to explore our federal service line in supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Workforce Development Division and to dive into more projects supporting the electrical grid, the private sector, and local governments. I’m excited to continue to learn and grow in this incredible field!

What is something every individual or business should know about cybersecurity?

I think the most important thing I learned when I started working with clients on cybersecurity projects is that you don’t need to be a tech wizard to practice good cyber hygiene or protect yourself from cyber threats. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, it falls to each of us to take the initiative to protect our devices, stay vigilant for malicious cyber activity, and stay up to date as the threat landscape evolves. Cyber incidents have the ability to impact so many parts of our lives and so many areas of the emergency management field, so it’s critical that we all do our part to move cyber preparedness forward. 

What do you find most meaningful about the work you do here at Hagerty?

To me, there’s great power in taking small steps. What feels most gratifying to me about the work I do here at Hagerty is helping our clients make those small steps that lead to better preparedness that can ultimately save lives, protect our critical infrastructure, and build more resilient communities. It often feels so easy to get overwhelmed with the state of the world, but it’s affirming to me to know that the work I do can help real people and affect change.

Erin Bajema is an emergency management professional with experience supporting several areas of emergency preparedness as an analyst, planner, evaluator, and instructional design administrator. Ms. Bajema has served on projects in a diverse range of subjects, including disaster recovery planning, housing, continuity of operations, hazard mitigation, active threat, evacuation, damage assessment, and cybersecurity.