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Gilles Potvin, responsable des urgences
November 2017

Gilles Potvin, Emergency Response Coordinator

Becoming an emergency response coordinator is not a job you just happen to fall into. It's a key position you land because you have certain qualities: nerves of steel and years of on-the-job experience where you've seen everything under the sun. This is the story of Gilles Potvin, the emergency response coordinator at Soresto Valleyfield.

Gilles started out in the field as a cabinetmaker. He quickly gravitated toward disaster restoration, where he became familiar with the complex reality of Property and Casualty Insurance. As Soresto was making a major transition from offering cleaning services to becoming a full-service restoration and reconstruction outfit, Gilles joined the Soresto team as an assistant to the emergency response coordinator. He learned the tools of the trade through this job and would help the emergency response department run smoothly for the next two years. And, he discovered that he thrives under pressure and loves a good challenge.

When the emergency response coordinator decided to leave Soresto in 2015, Gilles was offered the position. He went through two months of training, during a well-supervised transition period where he could count on the support of his team and bosses.
Two years later, Gilles is still just as happy to go to work every morning and has become an expert in dealing with the unpredictable. "Emergencies happen without any warning, and they need to be dealt with immediately," he explains. "And emergencies that may seem minor to you feel like major ones to the people going through them." Gilles has to analyze each situation quickly and assign the right people to handle each problem within reasonable timeframes.

In order to do this, Gilles knows what each member of his team is capable of and also has an army of subcontractors that he can rely on. Having worked in construction for so long, Gilles is able to evaluate the time and materials required to get the situation under control. Gilles manages each situation as though it is unique, constantly searching for a solution while keeping the big picture in mind. "It's all a matter of priorities. A particular emergency can take priority over other ones that we're already working on," he says. Fortunately, his great deal of experience helps him understand all the intricacies of each problem that comes his way.

In addition to orchestrating the work of many people and ever-changing deadlines, Gilles also has to provide a sense of comfort to clients, explain the situation to them in plain terms and help them through the difficult times they are going through. Clients often feel like something's been taken away from them, and they have lots of questions that they want answered quickly. "Transparency works wonders with clients," explains Gilles. "When you explain things well, the clients get it!"

Gilles likes feeling useful, which is why he likes his job so much. He likes to solve problems, even if that means constant stress. He can also count on the help of a tight-knit team, which is an important advantage to have when pressure mounts. As an emergency response coordinator, Gilles knows that his job will always involve working under pressure and that he'll have to deal with a lot of unforeseeable circumstances. And despite that, he would never change jobs.

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