Adam Potter: if you don’t know him, then you need to get him on your radar right now. He’s a leader in the insurance industry, with a long list of achievements to his name. He’s most notably known as the Founder and CEO of The Claims and Litigation Management Alliance, more commonly referred to as CLM Alliance. It’s a huge professional network, boasting over 35,000 members in the claims resolution and litigation management sectors. If managing the industry’s largest professional association isn’t enough, he recently purchased Business Insurance, a reliable news and information source for those who want to be informed about business-related risk. With that acquisition, he also took on the title of CEO.
We know we don’t have to continue on, but Adam has done a lot for his industry since the get go. We had the chance to get personal with him about his career, including his time with American Airlines during 9/11. Learn how a job becomes more than a job; it becomes a duty and passion help people. Adam is a great example of turning his career into a lifestyle with purpose.
You have been in many high-level roles with pressure to create actionable results. How would you establish your goals, plan to achieve them, and then celebrate its success?
I identify opportunities and establish goals by speaking with a variety of industry professionals. I like to find out what’s important to them, what’s out there in the industry, and what industry needs are going unmet. As the leader of the two largest insurance industry organizations, I need to know what’s out there. I use that information to create goals and from there develop strategic plans to achieve those goals. When we’re successful, we celebrate. It’s not just me. It’s our team and the industry celebrating the accomplishments. I also reflect on successes and failures to learn from everything we do.
The insurance industry has been around for so long, making it difficult to implement changes. How were you able to make such impact in this area of work and what is your favorite example of making it happen?
I enjoy creating solutions to challenges and filling in gaps in the industry. I look at what needs are out there and what opportunities we may have to fill those needs. The creation of the CLM 10 years ago is a perfect example. There was no industry organization doing what the CLM does. We’re also working hard to change the ineffective and cumbersome claims adjuster licensing process. I’ve been working to pass the Universal Claims Certification (UCC) in many states. The UCC will make the licensing of claims adjusters a more uniform and efficient process.
You had the unique experience of working at American Airlines during 9/11, one of the most tragic events in American history. Can you recall those moments, days, and months after the attacks and how you learned to respond to an unprecedented event?
At that time, I was responsible for all logistics for all the families, FAA, NTSB, Red Cross for American Airlines. We had a team of 600 people at American working on that terrible situation. I can definitely recall those moments and days. I visited many families. Unfortunately, shortly after that tragedy, an American Airlines plane crashed in Queens. We reactivated our disaster response. Both of those situations taught me how to think on my feet very quickly. I also learned that you make mistakes and how you recover from those mistakes is important. I had to lean heavily on my moral compass to make the right decisions, and I always kept in mind how I would have wanted to be treated if I were one of the family members I was working with.
How did the CLM come about? What do you enjoy most about the industries you’re involved in and what inspires you to continue staying in this space?
I started the predecessor to the CLM in 2007 because in my role as a risk manager, I had no place to turn to find qualified defense counsel. At that point I was focused primarily on defense counsel who worked well with self-insured entities. That evolved to include the broader insurance industry. We also wanted to focus on the ethical billing practices of defense counsel. Over time, that evolved into what the CLM is today — the insurance industry’s largest professional association.
I love working in this industry. It’s dynamic and multi-faceted. The people are really great to work with; they’re very passionate about the work and the industry. There are just so many different opportunities to have an impact on the industry. That’s what keeps me going.
You recently purchased Business Insurance magazine. Congratulations! Why did you decide to make this move and what have been your biggest learning lessons of transitioning into a CEO role at a new company? Where do you hope to take BI in the next few years?
The opportunity unexpectedly presented itself, and I jumped at the opportunity. This was another situation where I had to make decisions quickly. I reached out to my network of industry professionals and was able to put together a strong strategy for purchasing and operating this 50-year-old publication. After the purchase, it was all about getting the publication and online content back up and running quickly. We have a strong team of professionals who stayed on with Business Insurance to make that transition in ownership as smooth as possible.
Business Insurance continues to be the most important and influential source of information in the insurance industry. The reporters and editors aren’t just rehashing news from a wire service, they are researching and investigating stories every day. As we grow BI, we look to expand our international reach and focus on the initiatives of our Diversity and Inclusion Institute with the goal of making a real and permanent difference in the industry.
Work aside, what’s something someone might not know about you?
I love the opera. We go four or five times a year. I really love the big productions — Zeffirelli productions are my favorite. I also enjoy country music and songs from the 70s and 80s.