Announcing the Winners of the 2018 CAS Trust Scholarship

The CAS is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 CAS Trust Scholarship. Ann Pogrebitskiy, rising junior at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is the recipient of the $10,000 scholarship. Adam Lathan, rising junior at Drake University and Kristen Marshall, rising senior at Illinois State University, are recipients of the $5,000 scholarships.

The CAS Trust Scholarship program, funded by donations to the CAS Trust, awards up to three scholarships to deserving students annually. The scholarship’s intent is to further students’ interest in the property and casualty actuarial profession and encourage pursuit of CAS designations. Recipients are chosen by the CAS Trust Scholarship Subcommittee of the University Engagement Committee.

“The 2018 application process was extremely competitive,” commented Silvia Bach, FCAS, chair of the CAS Trust Scholarship Program. “We had a large pool of highly qualified candidates, making the selection process quite a challenge. The three awardees really impressed the committee, and we look forward to celebrating their achievements at the 2018 CAS Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, where they will be recognized!”

CAS President Brian Brown added, “The CAS is dedicated to fostering the next generation of property and casualty actuaries. With programs like the CAS Trust Scholarship, we are able to recognize and support extraordinary actuarial students who will be joining the community of property and casualty actuaries in the near future. I congratulate this year’s winners of the CAS Trust Scholarship and look forward to meeting them at our Annual Meeting.”

To learn more about the CAS Trust Scholarship visit the CAS website or contact CAS Marketing and Communications Coordinator Maha Chaudhry.

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On the Road with the CAS President: My Visit to DePaul University

CAS President Brian Brown writes about his visit to DePaul University, highlighting questions and topics that came up during his presentation to the actuarial club.

I recently spoke at DePaul University located in the heart of Chicago, and host to the High School Actuarial Day event discussed in a recent LinkedIn update. DePaul is very involved with local high schools, and was a great help in recruiting students to attend the event. DePaul also has a summer program for talented high schools students. These fortunate students spend a week living and going to class on DePaul’s campus to learn about the actuarial profession.

The audience for my talk was the DePaul University Actuarial Club, and the event was organized by its president, Michaela Fossberg, who volunteered and spoke at High School Actuarial Day. Below is a picture of Michaela and me along with many of the other speakers at the Actuarial Day for High School Students.

DePaul University

I spoke to the actuarial club about the CAS’s impressive membership growth rate of between 6% and 8% over the last several years. This clearly implies that employers are valuing the CAS credential. I also spoke about different types of actuarial jobs, the exam process and the CAS Student Central program and resources.

I answered a number of questions on why I chose the casualty profession and what area of actuarial work is in highest demand. I said I chose casualty work as it appeared more statistically oriented and I always loved statistics; additionally I found all of the different types of casualty coverages very interesting. Based on our growth rates, casualty members are in high demand. I also mentioned that based on my general knowledge, health actuaries are also in high demand.

Several students were interested and intrigued by the use of telematics in auto insurance. They thought that this type of information will dramatically change auto insurance products and pricing. I think they are correct.

We had an extended discussion on the number of employers in Chicago that hire actuaries. Chicago actually has over 70 companies that employ actuaries. Allstate and CNA are well known but there are also several large companies that have regional offices and several small and medium size companies. The attached exhibit displays a list of companies that employ actuaries in Chicago.

I appreciate DePaul’s strong support of the actuarial profession and their support for the High School day in Chicago, and I enjoyed speaking with their students. Thank you, DePaul.

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On the Road with CAS President: Participating in University of California Santa Barbara’s Actuarial Day

Read about CAS President Brian Brown’s visit to University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) to participate in their annual Actuarial Day event.

University of California Santa Barbara’s Actuarial DayI had the pleasure to speak at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Actuarial Day on Friday April 20th. UCSB is one of the 7 schools that has won the CAS University Award, recognizing them as a leader in educating property and casualty actuaries.

I was incredibly impressed by the quality of the students and the faculty. I had lunch with a number of the student officers of the actuarial club and they, in addition to having great analytic skills, had excellent communication skills. They asked a lot of great questions.

The UCSB actuarial program was started in 1989 by Professor Raya Feldman.  It is not surprising that UCSB won an award from the CAS given the quality of the faculty. The current faculty consists of three very well-known and respected actuaries:

  1. Roger Hayne,  FCAS – Roger is currently VP of International for the CAS and is a past CAS President;
  2. Janet Duncan, FCAS – Before joining the faculty, Janet held several senior positions with major insurers; and
  3. Ian Duncan, FIA – Ian has had a very successful career and one of his papers will be published in the upcoming edition of Variance.

There are also many other talented actuarial science faculty members at UCSB.

University of California Santa Barbara’s Actuarial DayAs I mentioned, I had lunch with a number of the officers of the actuarial club. It is always very interesting to meet talented people. In addition to pursuing her actuarial career and being treasurer of the actuarial club at UCSB, Sukanya Joshi also is part of a competitive dance team. She practices three times a week on the UCSB Bollywood Fusion Dance Team. The day after my talk she was dancing for charity, to raise money for the Akshaya Patra Foundation – the world’s largest school lunch program, which aims to end child hunger.The event was very successful. Congratulations, Sukanya.

I also met Permoon Hussaini; she is the incoming President of the UCSB actuarial club and is interning at Mercer this summer. Permoon is from Saudi Arabia but grew up with people from Asia, Europe and the Middle East. She felt that the exposure to different cultures helped her to better engage and interact with people.

After lunch, I spoke to all of the actuarial students. UCSB is an impressive program with 297 students. The students were very engaged and I received a number of great questions. One student said she loved math and wondered whether she could still use her math skills as she advanced in her career. I assured her that she will always be able to use her analytic skills.

University of California Santa Barbara’s Actuarial DayThe students were very interested in my discussion on telematics and predictive analytics. Also, Eric Weibel, President of Zendrive, was in the audience as an alumnus. Zendrive for years has collected individual driving information (speed, miles driven etc.) via a smart phone. Zendrive among other things uses this information to derive a driving score based on various variables (e.g. distracted driving, speed, hard braking etc.) to predict a driver’s likelihood of having an accident. Zendrive recently reached a billion miles of data.

I also met with UCSB’s Advisory Board. UCSB meets with alumni and others working in the industry to discuss new trends and areas where they can improve their actuarial science program. This is certainly a best practice and I learned a lot from the discussion. A couple items that were discussed included:

  1. UCSB is offering a very hands-on class with a lot of one-on-one interaction between the students and faculty in predictive analytics. The students are given real world data and have to program in R, Python or SAS to solve the problem and write up the results. This is a great class that will prepare the students for various jobs;
  2. Ian Duncan is doing research with the students and that has led to 4 papers being published.
  3. Raya said that she is encouraging students to develop their communication skills. In addition to writing and public speaking classes, she is also encouraging students to take theater classes. I think that this is wonderful, as employers are demanding candidates with great technical and communication skills.

I feel fortunate to have attended the UCSB Actuarial Day. USCB has a great group of students and a very intelligent and committed faculty. Thank you.

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On the Road with the CAS President: My Visit to the University of Connecticut

After a year filled with visits to universities, CAS President Brian Brown closed out the 2017-2018 academic year with a presentation at the University of Connecticut. Read about his experience presenting and interacting with students and faculty.

IMG_1615It was a pleasure to visit and speak to the actuarial students at the University of Connecticut (UCONN) recently. UCONN has a long tradition of being one of the most well respected actuarial programs. It is one of the seven schools that has won the CAS University Award for exemplary education of property casualty actuarial students.

UCONN has an outstanding faculty including past CAS President Pat Teufel. Pat had a very successful career, leading KPMG’s actuarial practice, before joining UCONN as a professor. Pat has also been a role model to me and I highlighted her in my Actuarial Review article on “Women of the CAS.”

UCONN also has three other faculty members who are CAS members:

  1. William Borgen, FCAS;
  2. Matt Jewczyn, FCAS; and
  3. Gao Niu, ACAS.

I spoke to the actuarial students about the CAS and the advantages of choosing a casualty career path. The students were very engaged and asked a lot of good questions:

  1. What was my most interesting assignment;
  2. Compare and contrast consulting to a company job;
  3. Why did I choose a casualty career path.

IMG_1617I mentioned that my most interesting assignments were merger & acquisition assignments where I represented the potential buyer. I liked digging into the details of the potential target company and highlighting the positives and negatives to my client. The most stressful and enjoyable situations involved finding and communicating problems with the target company that no one else found.

Comparing a consulting job to a company job is difficult as each company and each consulting firm is different (actually individual offices at consulting firms are different). However, as a general rule:

  1. At a consulting firm you may work more hours and probably initially make a little more money;
  2. At a company, you will probably have a little more structure to the process and type of work you do;
  3. At a consulting firm you will probably travel a little more.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I chose the casualty field because I thought it would involve more statistics and I was good at and enjoyed statistics. Also, I like that there are many different types of casualty coverages (e.g., warranty, ocean marine, D&O).

After my talk I had dinner with the faculty and a couple of students at UCONN. The students and faculty are very impressive. Alexa Cosenza will graduate from UCONN next week, after three years as an undergraduate (quite an accomplishment) and she has passed 4 exams. She will start her career at TransRe in New York. Alexa’s father is an FCAS, Tom Cosenza, the Chief Actuary at Pillar Capital Management in Bermuda. Alexa is also an enormous football fan and may know more about football than anyone else I have ever met. She may eventually be the Billy Beane of pro football with her analytic skills.

Matt Edson is interning at Travelers this summer. Matt interned at CIGNA last year and Travelers two years ago. Matt will be President of the student actuarial club at UCONN next year, and will continue in his role a CAS Student Ambassador Congratulations, Matt.

Meghan Smith Epaul met me before the event and gave me some background on the actuarial program at UCONN. Meghan has great communication skills, passed 5 exams, and is a Milliman Actuary of Tomorrow Scholar. Meghan accepted a position with CIGNA.

IMG_1621I also loved interacting with the faculty. I got along with Jim Trimble (Actuarial Science Program Director) well even though he is a lifelong and avid Green Bay Packer fan. Growing up in Chicago, I am a lifelong Bears fan – which has not been good the past few years. Jim heads up a wonderful and talented faculty.

Also, Emiliano Valdez teaches a class in Predictive Analytics where one of his recent projects entailed having students estimate default rates for home equity loans based on several variables and write up and present their work. I think this class will do a great job preparing students for the job market.

It was a great visit. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the faculty and the students. Thank you Pat and UCONN.

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CAS Sponsors “High School Actuarial Day” in Chicago

More than 300 high schools students and teachers from 14 Chicago-area high schools participated in the first High School Actuarial Day on April 18 at DePaul University. Spearheaded by CAS President Brian Brown, the event was held in partnership with DePaul and supported by the SOA, The Actuarial Foundation, the International Association of Black Actuaries, the Organization of Latino Actuaries, Gamma Iota Sigma, and CNA. More than 60 speakers and volunteer table leaders from these organizations participated in the event program.

The goal of the program was to expose high school students of color to the actuarial profession as a career choice. While the event was open to all students, schools with a high percentage of students of color were targeted, and within these schools, students in advanced math classes were encouraged to attend.

Recent research on barriers to entry into the profession for under-represented demographic groups has shown that one of the main reasons that students of color do not enter the profession is their lack of knowledge of the profession until late in college. This puts them at a disadvantage relative to other students, as many employers look to hire students who have passed a few actuarial exams and completed an internship before offering full time employment.

The agenda for the program included a mix of general session speakers, table discussions, and problem-solving activities. Program highlights included:

  • Practicing actuaries sharing why they became an actuary, what they love about working as an actuary, and the different job opportunities available to actuaries.
  • An overview of the process for pursuing a career as an actuary and resources available to students to assist them along their career path.
  • Math estimation and logic problems, which the students worked in teams to solve.
    Brown had made the High School Day one of his top goals for his term as CAS President. He commented that, “Putting on an event like this requires a lot of work, and I am very appreciative of the support we received, particularly from DePaul University, Chicago Public Schools, and the many volunteers who gave their time to make the event a success.”

He continued, “As we work towards building a diverse pipeline of future actuaries, I want to make this an annual event in Chicago.”

Read more about the event in a blog post authored by Brown on the CAS Roundtable. To view photos from the event, see the album on the CAS Facebook page.

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