CAS Profile: Chelsea Adler

My name is Chelsea Adler and I’m an FCAS passionate about changing the narrative around insurance. After graduating from Ohio State University with a major in Actuarial Science, I spent the first 5 years of my career pricing Homeowners insurance at State Farm. I then transitioned to my current role as Senior Manager, Pricing and Actuary at an InsurTech start-up called Root. I love what I do and recently launched a blog to help and inspire future actuaries.

Why would you recommend a career in the insurance industry to current college students?
Growing up I got to witness firsthand how amazing insurance can be. My father is a State Farm agent and he has always gone above and beyond to be “like a good neighbor.” After a devastating storm, he’d be the first person on the scene to help a homeowner clear debris off their home. After the loss of a loved one, he’d drop everything to be there to comfort the grieving. Unfortunate life events can devastate individuals and families. Getting to love and support others during these difficult times is immensely rewarding. If you want to work in an industry that helps people and makes a positive impact, insurance is where it’s at.

Why did you become an actuary?
Initially I was drawn to the actuarial profession because I loved math and problem solving. However, what really sold me was the collaboration and variety of work. No day is the same and I love getting to partner with individuals throughout an organization to accomplish our goals.

What drew you to a career in property and casualty insurance?
Technology is rapidly changing the world. As cars evolve and smart homes emerge, the insurance industry must adapt to the changing needs and expectations of society. Working in P&C insurance, I get to be at the forefront of some exciting developments. It’s rewarding to develop innovative solutions to diverse and challenging problems.

What can students do now to prepare for a career in the industry?
Spend time in an insurance agent’s office! Whether it’s a job shadow or a summer internship, what you’ll learn on the front lines will be invaluable as you progress in your career. It’s important to understand the mechanics of how insurance works, but even more critical to understand how the consumer experiences insurance. You must always keep the policyholder in mind, as the decisions you make as an actuary will have a direct impact on them.

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Announcing the Launch of the Second Annual CAS Student Central Summer Program

The CAS Student Central Summer Program is returning for its second year to host an eight-week interactive professional and educational experience for university students. This free online program, designed by practicing actuaries, will support students’ career growth by providing technical and soft skill development, as well as mentorships and networking opportunities.

The program, originally established to fill the void created by cancelled internships last summer, was so well received, that student participants and mentors resoundingly recommended it be held again! Here are some highlights participants shared with us:

“This summer program provided an invaluable experience, from the weekly presentations and exercises to the mentor meetings. These all contributed in improving my technical and communication skills.”

“I learned about real techniques that actuaries use for pricing and reserving that I wouldn’t have otherwise learned. The mentor and student cohort meetings allowed us to exchange ideas about the material from the week and learn more about the actuarial field from our mentors.”

2021 Program Details

The program will run from Monday, June 14 – Friday, August 6. Over the course of the eight-week program participants will:

  • Complete weekly modules that focus on a variety of property and casualty actuarial topics including pricing, reserving, and data visualization.
  • Connect and network with mentors for weekly discussions as students advance through the program.
  • Build important soft skills, such as presentation skills, resume/interview prep, professional courtesies and more!
  • Work on teams with other students on a case competition addressing a real-life actuarial problem, and present their final projects to a panel of practicing actuaries. There will be cash prizes for the winning teams.

Participants will spend approximately 10 hours a week participating in the program and are expected to attend the program in its eight-week entirety. Presentations and materials will be in English. Participants who successfully complete the program will be awarded a certificate by the CAS documenting their accomplishment.

Who Should Apply?

The program is geared towards university students who are interested in gaining actuarial experience and knowledge of the property and casualty insurance industry. It is an exciting development opportunity for students who do not have an internship lined up for summer 2021. We welcome applications from across the globe.

We encourage students at schools without actuarial programs, as well as those who recently learned about the actuarial career, to apply. This program will also be beneficial to students who attend an actuarial program but have had limited exposure to property and casualty topics or limited access to actuarial internships.

The CAS Student Central Summer Program is also open to career changers who have demonstrated a commitment to pursuing the actuarial career path.

The CAS strongly encourages students that identify with groups historically under-represented in STEM professions, including Women, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, to apply.

There will be a similar version of this program offered in Mandarin Chinese, and the application for that program will be released later this spring. Students interested in participating in that program should not apply for the English language version.

Application Information:

Interested students should submit an application form by March 19th. Please note, we require one recommendation letter submitted within the application.

In order to provide the best possible mentoring and networking experience to participants, space in the mentored program is limited. Strong consideration will be given to candidates with limited access to actuarial science coursework or formal internship programs.

Applicants will be notified no later than April 9th as to the status of their application.

Because space is limited, applicants who are not offered a spot within the mentor-led program will have the opportunity to participate in the CAS Student Central Independent Summer Program, a self-paced alternative covering the same materials. The independent program includes an online forum for participants to pose questions, connect with each other, and obtain guidance. It excludes the case competition, and weekly mentor discussions. Applicants interested in applying specifically for the CAS Student Central Independent Summer Program should also complete the application form above.

Questions? Please email us at

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CAS Profile: Dan Post

My name is Dan Post, and it is hard to believe that I have been an FCAS for 19 years!  I graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a degree in Actuarial Science (and a minor in music) and have held a variety of actuarial positions at several insurance companies.  I have spent the last 16 years at The Hartford, and my current job is a non-actuarial position as a Product Manager for Personal Auto/Homeowners insurance.  Outside of work, my wife and 4 kids keep me busy, and I enjoy editing our home movies and developing game tournaments for the family.  I also have fun hiking with my dogs and training for obstacle course races.

Why did you become an actuary?
Growing up, I always enjoyed math and statistics and wanted a job where I could apply those skills to solve problems.  I was fortunate to hear about the profession early on and focus my education on building those skills.  I met a couple of actuaries along the way who shared their perspectives and helped me realize that this would be a good fit.

What drew you to a career in property and casualty insurance?
I had the opportunity to work as an actuarial intern over two summers – one with a Life insurance company and one with a Property & Casualty (P&C) company.  I was drawn to a P&C role by the creativity needed to solve problems in a constantly changing world.  Vehicle safety features and driving patterns change every year, climate change impacts the severity of catastrophe events, workplace safety evolves over time, and legal patterns change for each local market across the country.  A P&C actuary needs to say on top of these changes and adapt their calculations and decisions.  Covid-19 is the latest challenge that we are facing in the industry, since 2020 patterns look like nothing we have observed in our history.  Actuaries need to adjust their data and forecasts as we come out of the pandemic to appropriately set insurance rates and reserve enough money to pay claims.  If you enjoy using math and data to problem-solve and innovate, a P&C role might be for you!

What can students do now to prepare for a career in the industry?
Take classes in math, business, finance, and economics to learn about topics on the exams and the concepts you will deal with on the job.  Seek out leadership experiences in school or outside of school – this will help you work with others toward a common goal, a valuable skill for an actuary.  Also, connect with people in the industry – this is easier than ever with social media, and you can talk to a teacher or professor if you need help getting started. has some great information and resources, as well.  Each perspective that you gain can help you determine whether the profession is right for you.

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CAS Profile: Susana Gisele Zelaya

Susana Gisele Zelaya, FCAS, FCIA, works as an Actuary at ICBC in the Product Pricing Team. She graduated from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) with a bachelor degree in actuarial sciences. Born in El Salvador, her parents moved to Canada where she grew up as French Canadian and recently moved to British Columbia. She recognizes her background as being an advantage and now wants to encourage more diversity in the P&C industry.

Why would you recommend a career in the insurance industry to current college students?
Why would I not? The insurance industry is in constant evolution. In the past few years, the industry has been coming up with new ways to provide and sell insurance, it has been immersed in the world of big data and predictive analytics and keeps on releasing products that better corresponds to the new and increasing needs of customers. This industry is even gaining more and more attention from outsider companies such as Tesla and Amazon. Not only that, the recent pandemic has shown us that the insurance industry provides a safe and stable work environment as many countries deemed it an “essential business” and many organizations quickly pivoted to a work-from-home model.

Why did you become an actuary?
I always had good grades at school and I particularly enjoyed math and science. As many children from immigrant parents have experienced, the career options that were often proposed to me were the classics: doctor, lawyer, engineer, or accountant. Ugh! So boring. One day my math teacher talked about actuaries and the fact that no one around me seemed to know what it was just got me hooked. Don’t worry, I did some research after that and got attracted by how actuaries used math and applied them to real-life issues. Also, the fact that you have to go through a series of exams to obtain your designation appealed to my goal-driven competitive side.

What drew you to a career in property and casualty insurance?
Even through my research of “what is actuary?” I was quickly drawn to the P&C industry because of the range of risks that can be covered. Knowing that actuaries could predict the cost of a natural catastrophe or how much it costs to rebuild a house burned down by fire seemed pretty cool to me. But it was really getting my first internship with a P&C company that cemented my choice. I really loved the atmosphere at work and how much I learned in such a short amount of time that I just couldn’t get away from that.

What can students do now to prepare for a career in the industry?
Learn how to communicate your results to non-technical audiences. It is harder to do than you think and the sooner you learn, the better. Actuaries tend to build great models or perform intricated analysis, but often fail to clearly communicate the result and impacts to others. Another suggestion is to learn to code in as many languages as possible. This skill will be particularly useful in your first few years working as an actuary.

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CAS Releases Results of Career and Workplace Survey

Today CAS released results from a comprehensive survey of members of CAS Student Central, the CAS’s membership program for university students, to provide insight into virtual recruitment practices. The survey, released in infographic form, provides key information for actuarial hiring managers, candidate program coordinators, and recruiters about the career preferences for the actuarial talent pipeline. The survey pulls on responses from 362 participants from 105 universities and covers a variety of recruitment topics, including recruitment in a virtual world, what students are seeking from employers in the current environment, and more.

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CAS Profile: Denise Olson

My name is Denise Olson. I currently work at Zurich North America as the Head of New Programs leading a cross functional due diligence team. I graduated from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (Go Big Red!) with a double major in Actuarial Science and Math. In my 30-year career, I’ve spent about 20 years as a pricing actuary. The other 10 years, I’ve been in multiple non-actuarial roles including underwriting, product development and leading a large systems project. I am a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (FCAS) and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU).

Why would you recommend a career in the insurance industry to current college students?
Insurance is endlessly fascinating and constantly changing. During my career, I’ve worked on taxis, crop insurance, lawyers professional liability and entertainment insurance just to name a few. There is no end to the variety of roles and types of insurance to learn about.

Why did you become an actuary?
From a very early age, I knew that math was my strongest and favorite subject. As I entered high school, I really didn’t know what I could do with a math major, but knew it was my passion. I talked with my high school calculus teacher and told her I knew I didn’t want to teach. She suggested Actuarial Science. Since I grew up in Nebraska and UNL has such a strong Actuarial Science program, my future was decided. Talk about a life changing 10-minute conversation.

Why did you take a non-actuarial role?
I was fortunate to work with another actuary who moved into a business lead position and thought I’d really like to try that if the right opportunity came along. I was terrified to move into my first underwriting manager role, but knew that I could fall back on my actuarial background if it didn’t work out. Taking that risk has paid off in so many ways for me.

What drew you to a career in property and casualty insurance?
I had no idea that Property and Casualty Insurance even existed when I was in college. We had a very Life/Health heavy curriculum. When I interviewed on campus for full time positions (back before the days of lots of internships), I interviewed with CNA in Chicago. They had a life division and I asked to be placed there when they made me an offer, but they said the offer was only for P&C. My thinking was that at worst, I could switch to Life/Health later if I wanted to. My first pricing role was in Entertainment Insurance and I was hooked on day 1 when I read the underwriting guidelines.

What can students do now to prepare for a career in the industry?
First, be curious – what questions do you have about every situation? Ask. Ask more than one source. Meet people that aren’t like you to find out their perspective. Go deep on what interests you and never stop learning. Second, learn how to communicate in a simple, straightforward way without using technical jargon. I used to practice explaining concepts to my mother, who is a retired dental assistant. No one cares about all the hours you spent or the details of how you did something. They want to know what they should do with the information you’re providing. Finally, learn to fail. You will make mistakes. How will you learn from them? What can you do better next time? How resilient can you be?

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