The pandemic crushed its risk management team and closed hotels. That didn’t stop the Hyatt Group’s Jennifer Pack

Hyatt’s Jennifer Pack won the 2022 Risk All Star award for her leadership and ingenuity as the hotel’s revenue and staff numbers dwindled.

Jennifer Pack, vice president of risk management at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, has had her share of challenges over the past two years.

In its initial wave, the COVID-19 pandemic left Hyatt Hotels Corporation not only transitioning to a declining revenue environment, but also a declining risk management staff. In April 2021, Hyatt’s team grew from a 24-person machine to just eight, working in an environment where new risk exposures were developing.

In addition, normal obstacles still presented themselves, and with the effects of the pandemic, Hyatt’s risk management employees found themselves in uncharted territory. But, with Pack in the lead, the team knew they were in good hands.

When the pandemic forced the American company into an immediate shutdown, Pack worked quickly to close hotels, furlough employees and maintain asset security at respected properties. The Hyatt’s occupancy rate dropped from 80% to just 7% very quickly. Pack needed to determine not only how to prove Hyatt locations were safe for guests, but also how to mitigate possible exposure to COVID-19.

She said: “We wanted to encourage people to travel and stay in hotels, so we had to ask ourselves, ‘how do we show and prove to the world that we are a safe place?

For Pack, that meant reaching out to several outside sources, including disease experts, insurance companies and epidemiologists at the Cleveland Clinic.

“We had to make sure every hotel had a strong program: put a hygiene and wellness manager in every hotel who knew the laws, rules and regulations in their jurisdiction and make sure everyone was trained in the proper protocols,” she said.

As mentioned earlier, Pack also had to restructure how its risk management team would operate with a significantly reduced workforce.

Pack recalled how small Hyatt’s risk management team was at that time: “There were no associate vice presidents, no directors, no senior managers. I [had] five managers, some of whom are brand new, and a senior analyst.

To set up the team, Pack reworked its structure, drawing on technology and analysis to determine a clean and successful function.

“We [always thought on] what we needed to focus on, not being absolutely crushed,” she said. Prioritization was key.

Amid these challenges, Pack also led the implementation of a worker compensation shutdown initiative for Hyatt.

The program reduced workers’ compensation risk by $5.5 million as of October 2020 and “currently has a trend of $2.4 million below planned spending,” according to the app. Pack’s Risk All Star. &

Every year, Risk & Insurance selects deserving candidates to become Risk All Stars. They are risk managers who, through their perseverance, passion and creativity, make a big difference to the stability of their organizations.

Check out all of the 2022 Risk All Star winners here.

Emma Brenner is an editor at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

Martin E. Berry