The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: The Talent Acquisition Team
Here at Hagerty, we truly believe our advantage is our people – a diverse group of professionals from all walks of life and backgrounds. By fostering an inclusive work environment that respects and leverages unique perspectives, we create an engine for innovation that drives the success of our clients. This month, in honor of Global Diversity Awareness Month, we are highlighting Hagerty’s Talent Acquisition (TA) team to discuss their career paths, professional experiences, and how their work is strengthened by our firm’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
1. Tell us about yourself and how your career path led you to Hagerty Consulting.
Walter Flores: Right after college, I began working as an Information Technology (IT) recruiter. A year later, I had the opportunity to join a proposal recruiting team, where I had the pleasure of working on major national defense contracts associated with various Intelligence agencies. In addition, I supported the capture team for two major contracts with the Air Force providing engineering knowledge base skills for the final phase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s development. This role granted me experience in Public Assistance (PA) – Technical Assistance Contract (TAC) bids, where I gained the bulk of my emergency management industry exposure and knowledge. When Hagerty approached me to discuss a recruiting opportunity, I distinctly remember my then-program managers telling me, “that is the A-team, Walter…when you see Hagerty show up on a project, you know the client hired the best in the business.” That statement solidified my decision to begin work here, and with a little over three years under my belt, I can positively say I have had a great experience at Hagerty.
Deb Gard: Before joining the Hagerty team, my professional background involved providing administrative support to E & C-level executives. Onset by the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself in a period of job uncertainty and therefore looking for a new opportunity. Ultimately, I reconnected with a former coworker who made me aware of Hagerty and a role within the TA team, and the rest is history!
David Frye: I am the lead recruiter for our Recovery Division and absolutely love what I do. Prior to joining Hagerty, I worked as a recruiter for various companies. Through the years, I developed a passion for supporting the military, first responders, and other forms of government service work. When starting at Hagerty, I assumed the transition to state and local government consulting would be a breeze, but I was pleasantly surprised with the challenging environment to that I attribute most of my professional development. I’m now deeply entrenched in the Recovery Division’s hiring strategy, and I partner directly with executive leaders. I wear a lot of hats in support of massive response and preparedness efforts, in addition to being the Technical Assistance Program (TAP) Center coordinator and a go-to recruiter for prior law enforcement, Emergency Medical Service (EMS), and fire service hiring.
Meagan Flanagan: I have been in recruiting for 15 years. Through a previous employer, I had the opportunity to work with Walter Flores, who ultimately led me to Hagerty!
Aly Castrenze: My career path started in the recruiting agency world. Before joining Hagerty, I worked for two agencies primarily recruiting creative and technological talent from New York City (NYC). My undergraduate degree is in Public Administration (PA) with a focus on Emergency Management and Homeland Security. While attending university, I was the secretary of the Emergency Management Student Association (EMSA) and the student club president. I was referred to Hagerty early last year, and soon after, I was hired on as a recruiter.
2. What do you find most rewarding about working in the field of emergency management, specifically as a TA professsional?
Walter Flores: The most rewarding part of my work is knowing we are helping our clients and communities across the country respond to and solve major disaster-related issues. There is a sense of pride when I can find a strong professional that I know will be working with our clients and their communities to keep the strong reputation of the firm we have built.
Deb Gard: I love the passionate and purpose-driven approach of the people within our firm. It is rewarding to be a part of giving the best first impressions of Hagerty as part of the talent team.
David Frye: There are fewer degrees of separation between the numerous phone calls and emails I make to the direct, tangible, and meaningful efforts of serving, sustaining and saving the lives of others. As a recruiter, it is easy to become disconnected from the impact I make on a daily basis, but nothing of the sort can be said of my tasks at Hagerty. I am passionate about leveraging my skills to be of service to others, and this industry welcomes this concept far above many others.
Meagan Flanagan: For the majority of my career, I have worked in the Department of Defense (DoD)/Intelligence field. While I found it rewarding to support veterans in their transition to civilian jobs, I never knew the details of the missions or the positions I was filling. At Hagerty, I get to understand our firm’s project goals and see how the people I hire can make a difference in helping people prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies.
Aly Castrenze: What I find most rewarding about working in this field is truly the people. The people we work with, the candidates we speak to, and the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) we engage with are amazing. It truly is rewarding to work with people each and every day with the same goals and ambitions as yourself – to help people on their worst days.
3. What does DEI mean to you, and how do you incorporate it into your recruitment work?
Walter Flores: As someone with immigrant parents who came from a community where I did not have a lot of resources, DEI is special to me because I truly had to fight for opportunities. It was not an easy path, and I know many others share similar challenges. Therefore, I am always looking at how I can find talent from diverse backgrounds. In my work, I apply blind recruiting to my interview process, where I do not see the candidate on camera to eliminate any potential bias. In addition, my team and I have all been certified in diversity recruiting methods so that we may more adequately build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
Deb Gard: To me, DEI means that everyone should be treated respectfully. In my day to day, I strive to build an inclusive and welcoming environment that supports and embraces differences, offering respect to everyone in my words and actions. That intentional mentality is front of mind each day. At Hagerty, we are looking to recruit a diverse pool of unique perspectives, and I love being a part of that process.
David Frye: We believe that considering candidates based strictly on the nature of their skills, knowledge, and experience is how we have succeeded in building a diverse workforce. With professionals that have a vast array of backgrounds and perspectives, Hagerty creates a more well-rounded team that reflects the clients and communities we serve.
Meagan Flanagan: As a company, Hagerty’s goal is to recruit a collaborative and diverse workforce of employees with backgrounds and perspectives that reflect the communities we serve. We do not just interview referrals and applicants who apply to us. We build a pipeline and advertise in locations that serve a variety of candidates, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Employment Commissions in each state. I perform two critical tasks for each new position as a recruiter to ensure we draw in the broadest audiences. First, I help write more inclusive job descriptions that limit job duties to essential criteria needed to perform our roles so as not to meet our requirements while encouraging a more diverse applicant pool.
Aly Castrenze: I incorporate DEI practices within my recruitment work when it comes to unconscious bias, pay equity, conversations with professionals over the phone, and expanding my search when sourcing to include diverse groups and pools of talented professionals.
4. What is one piece of advice you would offer candidates looking to work at Hagerty or within the broader field of emergency management?
Walter Flores: My biggest piece of advice to candidates looking to break into our industry is continuous self-education. There are plenty of resources out there that can help those interested in emergency management learn more about the industry and prepare them for a job in consulting. When it comes to candidates who want to transition from their current careers to a career in consulting, I often find that many could benefit from improvement in core consulting competencies; in particular, I encourage all prospects to strengthen their polished communication and presentation skills and technical capacities to become proficient in the Microsoft Office Suite, particularly Excel.
Deb Gard: Emergency management is a diverse career field with various paths allowing professionals to employ their carefully developed emergency planning and response skills. For candidates seeking a career that allows them to play a vital role in helping communities prepare for, assess, and avoid risks, emergency management may be a good fit.
David Frye: Hagerty sets high standards for ourselves, so be prepared for a comprehensive interview process! Be polished and technically proficient – we’re always looking for professionals who can solve problems with their industry expertise by communicating effectively with our clients. As consultants, we solve problems using data, so having technical skills in Microsoft Excel is a must. Many of our teams utilize higher-level data analysis platforms, like Tableau and PowerBi. There are also certification programs out there that can boost your industry knowledge.
Meagan Flanagan: Be flexible!
Aly Castrenze: Do it! It is enriching to be a part of an industry that is so impactful and constantly evolving. Nothing is better than knowing your daily work responsibilities consist of tasks that positively impact lives for the better.
5. What are you passionate about outside of work?
Walter Flores: I am someone who likes to learn a new hobby every year and diversify my experiences. From this, I have grown a passion for numerous things: golfing, dancing, aviation, and motorcycles. However, my three greatest passions in life are soccer (long-time Madrid fan), Star Wars, and, most importantly, being a father! My life has no greater joy than being a father to my son.
Deb Gard: Outside of work, my greatest passions are my family and my church community. In addition, my husband and I prioritize time together, and one of our favorite things is playing one of the over 400 board games we own.
David Frye: My wife and I serve our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in various capacities, including leading a young adult missional community group. Every few months, I will swap sitting in a church pew for rucking into the woods, desert, or mountains with a sleeping bag to manage 300 to 500-person military simulation airsoft events across the country. I am also a certified firearm instructor and regularly contribute to tactical night-vision training events in New England.
Meagan Flanagan: My son, Phillip Sebastian! Outside of motherhood, I love baking. While I strangely don’t love sweets, I love making them for other people. Bringing a little bit of joy to someone through a sweet treat brings me joy too.
Aly Castrenze: Outside of work, I am passionate about spending time with family and friends. I live in Florida, but I love hiking and exploring the outdoors with my miniature dachshund.
To learn more about our firm and the job opportunities Hagerty currently has available, visit our career page here.
Walter Flores is the head of Talent Acquisition (TA) at Hagerty Consulting, possessing more than 13 years of experience managing recruiting processes at various consulting firms. Uniquely, Walter has a distinct background with areas of focus and expertise, including disaster recovery, defense intelligence, and information technology.
Deb Gard is the Recruiting Coordinator at Hagerty Consulting. Possessing a versatile background with experience in office administration and management, Deb has a strong focus on providing great value through the development of internal partnerships across the organization.
David Frye is a Managing Associate with industry experience in government contracting, healthcare, information technology (IT), power generation, manufacturing, insurance, and creative fields. David is passionate about employment branding, advisory, niche candidate searches, and career coaching.
Meagan Flanagan is a dedicated Managing Associate and a strong asset to the TA team. In support of Hagerty’s recruitment efforts, Meagan’s responsibilities include identifying the right full-time professionals and consultants to support the needs of our projects and clients.
Aly Castrenze is a TA professional with a working knowledge of Public Administration (PA), Recruiting, and Human Resources (HR). Aly received an undergraduate degree in PA with a focus on Emergency Management and Homeland Security from the University of Central Florida.