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Episode 76: Recruiting Talent in Emergency Management

This week Vanessa talks with Justin Pierce, emergency management director at Los Angeles World Airports in L.A., about the challenges involved in finding the right people to fill positions in emergency management. Earlier this year, Justin published an article on his LinkedIn page called “Coffee Shop Thinking: Hiring the Next Emergency Managers.” Vanessa loved the article, and this was the starting point for their conversation. Justin said he was motivated to enter emergency management by the attacks of 9/11. Vanessa interviewed him about some of the issues surrounding hiring new people for emergency management positions that he discussed in his article.

  • When hiring someone to fill a vacancy, Justin said agencies should not seek to duplicate the skillset of the departing person but instead look for someone who can help them meet their most important goals of the next three to five years.
  • When he interviews job candidates, Justin looks for the intangibles of critical thinking, problem-solving, and a willingness to take the initiative.
  • For people trying to get started in emergency management, Justin suggests they get their foot in the door by joining a disaster aid organization, taking a free FEMA Independent Study (I.S.) course, or talking to their local fire or police chief.

Justin also said he only recently discovered Business Resilience Decoded and that he thinks the podcast is “amazing.” Vanessa summed up the ideal attitude for a new hire in emergency management as, “Put me in, coach!”


“Coffee Shop Thinking: Hiring the Next Emergency Managers,” by Justin Pierce at

FEMA Independent Study (I.S.) Training Courses:

Disaster Recovery Journal:

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Justin Pierce, guest

Justin Pierce is the director of emergency management at Los Angeles World Airports at the City of Los Angeles. He formerly worked for the Government of the District of Columbia as the deputy chief of the homeland security and preparedness division and executive director of the Fusion Center.


Vanessa Mathews, host

Vanessa Mathews is the founder and chief resilience officer of Asfalis Advisors, where they are focused on protecting the legacy of the leaders they serve through business resilience. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Mathews developed global crisis management and business continuity programs for government and private sector organizations to include Lowe’s Companies, Gulfstream Aerospace, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Jon Seals, producer

Jon Seals is the editor in chief at Disaster Recovery Journal, the leading magazine/event in business continuity. Seals is an award-winning journalist with a background in publication design, business media, content management, sports journalism, social media, and podcasting.

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