The ALE Solutions CAT (Catastrophe) Logistics team plays an integral role in the company’s success. Mary Jaeger-Hunter has been leading the CAT team for over seven years, with her tenure at the company reaching 13 years in 2023. Here she shares with us what she’s most proud of, the characteristics she looks for when building a CAT team, and the biggest lesson she’s learned from her time at ALE.
You began your career with ALE in Special Projects. Tell us more about how that transitioned into your current role.
My first big assignment as a Special Projects Coordinator was to find housing for the clean up crews for the Deep Horizon oil spill that occurred in 2010 in Louisiana. I was on that special project for a couple of years, assisting the military, fish and wildlife teams, and other groups sent to assist in the oil spill that needed housing. Not long after that project, I was offered the manager position on the National Account Management team. Later on when ALE was asked to house the adjusters that were deployed to assist with national disasters, they offered me the position to build and run the CAT Logistics Team.
Congratulations on your 13-year anniversary with ALE. What do you think is the key to longevity within the company?
For me, the longevity has been the result of a combination of things: my work ethic, the company’s culture, and the opportunities that were offered to me to grow within the company that ALE had built.
What do you consider to be your busy seasons and why?
Customarily, our busy season is June 1st to November 30th, which coincides directly with the hurricane season. The biggest amount of movement happens during a hurricane, because it usually requires thousands of deployed adjusters. This year has been uniquely different because there were a lot of spring storms, and there have been a lot of summer storms. So, what we would normally consider our quiet time has been relatively busy as well. The weather really dictates what our busy season is.
What characteristics best describe your team members?
Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of characteristics I think make up a very successful team of catastrophe service specialists. They are: problem solving skills, resilience, collaboration, team work, adaptability, strong communication skills, empathy and compassion, and most of all–a sense of humor! They also need to be a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the area they are deploying people to.
These characteristics collectively contribute to a successful team; however, every team member isn’t expected to have all of them. When I build a team I try to find people that have strengths in these different characteristics. Some are more compassionate, while others may have a good sense of humor. By working together and collaborating with all these types of characteristics, that’s what I think makes a successful team.
What is something you’ve worked on in the CAT dept that you are most proud of?
I would have to say my ability to build a team that really connects with each other. The role that we serve here at ALE Solutions is an important one because we need to be able to work together collaboratively. Specifically in a time of need when our customers rely on us. They depend on us to make sure we can get them to the scene of a CAT first. I’m proud that my team is successful and we get so much positive feedback from the insurance companies that we were able to find rooms where there were no rooms.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned after your time with CATs?
I’ve been managing the CAT Logistics Team for over seven years now, and every year I learn an important takeaway. Every hurricane or every catastrophe is different, there are never two that are the same. What I’ve learned from one CAT doesn’t necessarily correlate with the next CAT. What may have worked in one area, may not work in another. Some areas may have more hotels, and others less. The area impacted mandates the resources we are able to pull together and how successful we are in that endeavor.
My team and I always have post-CAT meetings where we try to prepare for the next time, and then we just simply aren’t able to use the strategy we came up with. What I’ve learned the most is to expect the unexpected!