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Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa (GIS) Chapter is an international fraternity whose purpose is to promote, encourage, and sustain student interest in insurance, risk management, and actuarial science as professions; to encourage the high moral and scholastic attainments of its members; and to facilitate interaction of educational institutions and industry through networking and by fostering research activities, scholarship, and improved public relations.
As members of the club, students have an opportunity to hear from actuaries at varying levels from both local and national actuarial firms. At club meetings, actuarial professionals share information about their respective companies and provide helpful employment advice. In addition to meeting with prospective employers, members will also participate in career-building activities, such as resume reviews and interview preparation. These activities help prepare actuarial students for summer internships and ultimately full-time employment.
The Gamma Iota Sigma chapter also helps organize the annual Actuarial Science Career Day, which brings together potential employers with students.
To join Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter at ASU, fill out the online application. Once completed, print your application and submit with a one-time membership fee of $50 in a sealed envelope to Dr. Milovanovic's mailbox in WXLR 216. Only checks payable to GAMMA IOTA SIGMA KAPPA CHAPTER AT ASU will be accepted as a form of payment. Incomplete applications cannot be processed and only completed forms will be considered for membership. Once your application is processed, you will receive an email invitation from orgsync.com to join GIS @ ASU. You will need to click on 'accept' in the email invitation in order to become an official member. Contact Jonathan Kiperman with any questions.
Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU officers for 2019-2020
President - Dylan Ketcham, Vice President - Kinsey Turk, Treasurer - Jonathan Kiperman
Committee members (from left)
Fernando Correa Chavez, Devon Haycock, Sean Kratsch, Sarah Lemme, Michelle Torbit, Katie Wholley
Hailey Walters, Emma Terry
May 9, 2019
By Michelle Torbit
The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at Arizona State University (GIS @ ASU) is committed to fostering relations with industry professionals and serving the local community. On May 2, the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) Society held their 12th Annual Golf Tournament Fundraiser at the Ocotillo Golf Club in Chandler. Leading CPCU professionals Lamont Boyd and April Horned organized the event to raise proceeds for the society, and also to help students succeed in the insurance profession through scholarship funding. GIS @ ASU volunteers included graduating club president, Hailey Walters, and incoming committee member Michelle Torbit.
The tournament was packed with activities, including a putting competition designed and run by the volunteering members, a full 18-hole round of golf, and a Vegas hole where competitors placed their bets on both individual and team member skills to make a single drive into a 15-foot diameter target. The day ended with a barbecue-style lunch and awards for participating golfers.
The fundraiser was a huge success, raising over $5,000 that will be used solely towards student scholarships. GIS @ ASU is grateful for the CPCU Society’s passion for student involvement and achievement and we are excited to take part in more events that spread our love of insurance and the community.
May 8, 2019
By Kinsey Turk
As ASU’s 2018-2019 academic year was wrapping up and students were studying hard for their finals, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) took some time to celebrate all the accomplishments that its members, officers, and faculty have achieved. On April 30, GIS @ ASU held its annual social to commemorate everyone’s hard work and celebrate its fifth birthday. Students, professors, alumni, and local companies were all invited to enjoy some good food and company in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SoMSS) building. The social was a great way to end a fantastic year and a perfect start to the summer.
The night started with food and refreshments, alongside a delicious ice cream bar. Attendees were free to mingle with one another as well as play some outdoor games of cornhole and giant Jenga. GIS @ ASU was glad to see alumni return to ASU to support the organization as well as reconnect with current students and their former professors. After a busy year of networking between students and insurance professionals, both parties had the opportunity to interact and connect in a more casual setting. Alumni Caleb Hardee (Markel), Emily Stampfel (CBIZ), Bo Swoverland (Allstate), Steven Locke (Nationwide E&S/Specialty), Zachary Broermann (UnitedHealthcare), and Zach Hutson (Nautilus Insurance Group) were among those in attendance.
The night also featured a short presentation from Lydia Tolman from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona with the topic of “What to expect from your first internship.” Many of GIS @ ASU members will be beginning their first internships this coming summer and fall, and it is important that they are prepared. Tolman gave some great advice such as the importance of never being late and not being afraid to say “I don’t know.” GIS @ ASU is confident that all its members will thrive in their new positions.
The main attraction of the night was the announcement of the new GIS @ ASU officers and committee members. First, the previous officers, Hailey Walters (President), Leo Austin (Vice President), Emma Terry (Treasurer), and Ainsley Ramsey (Public Relations), were recognized for their commitment and leadership that they have shown throughout the 2018-2019 school year, along with committee members Garrett Deimund, Dylan Ketcham, Jonathan Kiperman, Alex Rabine, Brendan Sturm, and Kinsey Turk.
After much anticipation, GIS @ ASU’s new officers for the 2019-2020 school year were announced to be Dylan Ketcham (President), Kinsey Turk (Vice President), and Jonathan Kiperman (Treasurer). Alongside the three new officers are the following committee members: Fernando Correa Chavez, Devon Haycock, Sean Kratsch, Sarah Lemme, Michelle Torbit, and Katie Wholley. Previous officers Hailey Walters and Emma Terry have taken on senior advisor roles and are looking forward to assisting current officers with the work that comes with running an organization. Congratulations to all new officers and committee members!
This year has been incredibly busy but also rewarding. GIS @ ASU has had the pleasure of seeing its members obtain internships, receive scholarships, pass exams, graduate, secure full-time jobs, and so much more. While this social officially marks the year coming to a close, it also provides a glimpse as to what next year will hold with a newly elected group of students.
April 17, 2019
By Brendan Sturm
The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) has a focus on networking and in the digital age, Linkedin is the ideal tool for networking online. On April 10, GIS @ ASU committee member Brendan Sturm and five club members had the opportunity to attend a LinkedIn workshop at Chubb Insurance as part of the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) Southwest Chapter event.
The session was hosted by Shannon DeSouza, a Connect Top 40 Under 40 award-winning sales and marketing professional. The theme of the event was “How to Build and Maximize your Brand with LinkedIn”. DeSouza emphasized the importance of LinkedIn as a place for first impressions. A well-branded profile includes: a summary of the individual, their experience, and their skills.
DeSouza made the point that networking is all about giving to other people. Sharing job postings with friends, endorsing colleagues, and commenting on posts are all examples of actions that make LinkedIn more useful for everyone. The bulk of the presentation discussed how to create a personal brand and tell the world a story. In addition to the workshop, students had opportunities to network with underwriters from insurance companies all over the valley.
GIS @ ASU would like to thank PLUS for hosting its members at this educational and entertaining event. The GIS @ ASU members attending this event benefitted greatly from the networking knowledge and advice from Shannon DeSouza, and are looking forward to stepping up their LinkedIn game.
April 15, 2019
By Jonathan Kiperman
Earlier in the year, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) hosted a diversity and inclusion workshop to help educate club members about the LGBTQIA+ community. After such a positive response to the first event, GIS @ ASU wanted to continue its efforts in becoming an ally. On April 2, GIS @ ASU got the incredible opportunity to host a panel of six industry professionals who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. This meeting was held to discuss the struggles and triumphs that members of the community have had in their professional careers, and how it has molded them into the people they are today.
After a brief dinner and networking between club members and industry professionals, the professionals found their way to the front of the room to form an introductory panel. To start the night off, GIS @ ASU’s Diversity and Inclusion officer, Dylan Ketcham, posed questions to the panelists about their experiences in the insurance field and how their sexual orientation affected their careers. After some interesting anecdotes, the panel questions concluded, and the speakers dispersed among four groups of meeting attendees. Club members were able to have more in-depth discussions with the guest speakers, who rotated between each group. Students were eager to ask questions, and the industry professionals had the chance to explain how vital tolerance and acceptance in a workplace is.
This meeting was an excellent opportunity for members to hear the experiences and advice of LGBTQIA+ members in similar careers. GIS @ ASU is incredibly grateful for these six professionals volunteering their time to educate and spark discussion with the members of the club. It was insightful and thought-provoking, and was altogether another great night for GIS @ ASU’s continued path towards diversity and inclusion education.
April 1, 2019
By Leo Austin
On March 21, two Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) members attended the fifth annual Jonathan D. and Helen Wexler Mathematical Sciences Senior Dinner. As attendees, Hailey Walters (President) and Leo Austin (Vice President) exchanged knowledge and ideas with other School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SOMSS) seniors, as well as selected faculty.
The dinner began with an introduction by Al Boggess, director of the school, about the history of the Wexler Math Senior Dinner and Charles Wexler himself, the founding father of mathematics at Arizona State University. The event is financed by an endowment made by Jonathan Wexler, the son of Charles. Following the introduction speech, the students and faculty had a fantastic meal with lots of lively discussion. The students at the dinner represented all degrees in the school and gave different perspectives on what it meant to be a student in the school. Following dinner, the students shuffled to different tables to allow for more discussion.
GIS @ ASU is appreciative that two officers represented the actuarial science program at the Wexler Math Senior Dinner, and would like to thank Jonathan Wexler and the organizers of the event for an enjoyable evening. GIS @ ASU also hopes to see more representation at this event in future years and looks forward to the great times that future attendees will have.
March 25, 2019
By Kinsey Turk
The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) hosted its 4th Annual Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) Case Study Competition on March 18. Unlike past events where ASU teams competed against only one another, this year ASU’s two teams competed against special guests from Brigham Young University (BYU). The BYU faculty and two student teams made the 10-hour trip down to Tempe to participate in the exciting case study and network with students and faculty from ASU.
The focus of the CAS Case Study was to utilize Microsoft Excel to present information to a panel of judges about a commercial property book of business in catastrophe-prone areas. Some of the challenges included cleaning spotty data, creating a dynamic underwriting report, and finding creative and clear ways to present vast amounts of data. Each of the four teams had a unique and fresh take on the data and provided fantastic graphics. After all of the talented groups presented, the panel of judges deliberated and chose the winning team: BYU’s team consisting of Brandon Allen, Jason Colgrove, Courtney Jolley, Abby Walker, and Cason Wight. Along with the prestige of winning, the team was awarded $2,500, generously provided jointly by the ASU School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences and the CAS.
Aside from the amazing work each of the students contributed to their presentations, the night was an excellent opportunity for fellow actuarial science students and faculty to mingle while building connections across state lines. Interacting with outside universities is a rare and gratifying experience for all involved and made the CAS Case Study an absolute success. GIS @ ASU would like to thank the panel of judges for taking the time to volunteer and BYU for journeying out to Arizona to participate in the competition. GIS @ ASU is looking forward to having a potential rematch in the coming year and to further connect with students in the actuarial science field in the Southwest.
March 22, 2019
By Dylan Ketcham
On March 12, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at Arizona State University (GIS @ ASU) hosted an evening with Dr. Marvin L. Bittinger, a renowned author and professor emeritus of mathematics at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis. Bittinger led a discussion on mathematics in popular culture and posed interesting mathematical problems. This presentation helped the members of GIS @ ASU not only learn more about Dr. Bittinger and his work, but also helped them to expand their awareness of mathematics beyond that of statistics and probabilities used often in actuarial science. This look into other realms of math helps the members of GIS @ ASU become more well-rounded students.
Dr. Bittinger’s presentation was centered around Gifted, a 2017 film about a seven-year-old math prodigy. The movie featured several difficult and unique math problems, including the Millennium Problems. Dr. Bittinger explained that the Millennium Problems are seven advanced math problems, only one solved, whose solutions would have wide-reaching implications for math as well as related fields like physics and fluid dynamics. If a mathematician can solve one of these problems, they earn one million dollars. Specifically, Dr. Bittinger gave special focus to the Riemann hypothesis, which involves the location of the zeros of a specific function whose results exist in the complex plane. Dr. Bittinger explained some of the basics of the problem, and some of the difficulties that exist with it. He also discussed a new method by which the problem may be solved, called analytic continuation, and some of the strange implications that the problem might have on string theory.
GIS @ ASU is extremely thankful to Dr. Marvin Bittinger for presenting to the students of ASU and helping them to explore new mathematical concepts. As both students and members of a mathematically-focused industry, it is important for GIS @ ASU members to explore various different concepts and questions posed in math. With these new concepts available to them, the students of Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa at Arizona State University are more informed about the interesting world of advanced mathematics and perhaps reminded of why they chose the field of actuarial science in the first place.
March 15, 2019
By Kinsey Turk
As members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU), students get many opportunities to expand their education outside of the classroom and gain real-world experience. On March 1, GIS @ ASU had the opportunity to send faculty and students to the Workers Compensation Research Institute’s (WRCI) 35th Annual Issues and Research Conference held in Phoenix, Arizona. Among those who attended were two officers, Ainsley Ramsey and Kinsey Turk, as well as two members, Justin Fink and Sarah Lemme. The event was a huge success and allowed students to access a part of the insurance world to which they currently do not receive much exposure.
The symposium included several presentations on recent findings regarding workers compensation, the most interesting was on the growing use of telemedicine. When workers get injured, instead of going to the emergency room, they can use their phones or computers to video-chat with a doctor and receive the necessary care. The hope is that this will lower the costs of claims for companies and increase efficiency. The discussion included a panel of regulators, doctors, and other professionals who were each able to provide their perspectives on telemedicine from their different job positions and experiences. The presentation did a great job of showing students how the insurance field is continually changing and what their future work could include.
In between sessions, students also had the opportunity to meet other actuaries and professionals that work with workers compensation and ask what drew them to this sector of insurance. Both the seasoned officers and new members alike enjoyed getting to hear more of what workers compensation can entail and what progress is being made within the field. GIS @ ASU is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to attend symposiums like these and cannot wait until the next one!
March 7, 2019
By Ainsley Ramsey
On February 26, the ASU School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SOMSS) hosted their second annual Jonathan D. and Helen Wexler Mathematical Sciences Junior Dinner, an event designed to honor the top junior students in the school. Two officers of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) were honored at this event: Emma Terry, the treasurer, and Ainsley Ramsey, the public relations officer, along with 12 other students. Additionally, one of the actuarial science faculty, Hongjuan Zhou, attended the dinner alongside seven other faculty members.
The night was filled with lively conversation and prime networking opportunities for students and faculty alike. Al Boggess, director of the school, kicked off the event with a speech that described how the Wexler Junior and Senior Dinners are funded by Jonathan Wexler, the son of Charles Wexler, after whom Charles Wexler Hall is named. Jonathan has fond memories of his father inviting math students and faculty over to his home for dinner once a year. In honor of these memories and his father, Jonathan endowed an account to fund the annual dinners. After the introduction, dinner was served, and the attendees seated at each table got to know each other better. Just before dessert was served, attendees shuffled to different tables to meet more of the students and faculty before the conclusion of the night. After dessert, attendees left the event with gifts from the school.
The event was a great way not only to recognize top junior students and provide networking opportunities, but to carry on the legacy of Charles Wexler, whose passion for mathematics has contributed immensely to the success of the school today. The room was incredibly diverse, and each student and faculty member had a different background, impressive accomplishments, and unique goals. GIS @ ASU is grateful that two officers and one faculty member represented the actuarial science program so well at the event. GIS @ ASU extends their thanks to Jonathan Wexler and the school for their dedication to facilitating the exchange of knowledge and ideas between students and faculty.
March 4, 2019
By Kinsey Turk
Once a year, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa at ASU (GIS @ ASU) has the opportunity to volunteer at ASU’s Open Door Event. On February 23, the university opened its doors to families and the community to share the work of faculty and students. and show what makes ASU a great place to learn. GIS @ ASU helped out the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences and got to express how critical, and fun, math can be.
The school hosted a number of math-related activities perfect for all ages. The fan favorite was the balloon station where volunteers were making different geometric shapes, some as simple as a prism and others as complex as a dodecahedron. Of course, there were some balloon dogs and swords made for the younger attendees, but all visitors left the station with smiles on their faces. Some of the other activities included sidewalk chalk Sudoku, building shapes with gumdrops and toothpicks, and a math swami who can guess the number someone is thinking in their head using a set of magic number cards. All the activities helped show the younger generation how math can be a fun subject, and how it is used in everyday scenarios.
ASU’s Open Door event is always loved by GIS @ ASU students since often times their love of math did not begin in college, but rather during their youth and continued to grow over the years. This event allowed club members to be a part of this process for younger attendees, and maybe even help create future actuarial science students. GIS @ ASU cannot wait for the next chance to volunteer and interact with the community in a long-lasting and impactful way.
March 1, 2019
By Jonathan Kiperman
Special interests, abundant technical skills, and a strong resume are all vital for a job candidate, but one aspect that can truly make or break the path to employment is the interview. The interview is the time one sells themselves to the employer, and vice versa. The unfortunate truth about interviewing is that there is no one formula for a perfect interaction every time. Company cultures and interviewer personalities vary, and no matter how many times one has heard all the typical interview questions, there are bound to be surprises. As a result, if different companies are looking for different things and there is an infinite amount of potential questions that can be asked, there is only one way to consistently succeed in an interview: practice.
On February 19, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) hosted their annual Mock Interview Night, where representatives from 16 different companies around the valley and throughout the nation volunteered their time to provide some one-on-one interviews and feedback for up-and-coming actuarial students. The 50 students in attendance were assigned up to two mock interviews for the night. The evening began with a short networking session, and then the professionals and students were dispersed among a variety of rooms for personal interviews. Worked into each interaction was 30 minutes of interview and question time, and a final 10 minutes for feedback and advice. This was an opportunity for members to improve their skills, make strong impressions, and become more comfortable in an interview setting.
GIS @ ASU cannot thank all the business professionals enough who donated their time and expertise for the growth of actuarial students at Arizona State University. The night proved to be a priceless learning experience for new and senior members alike. Interviewing well is not an exact science, but there are many methods and techniques that can separate a good interview from a great one. Nothing prepares someone more than practice, and GIS @ ASU’s Mock Interview Night provided exactly that.
February 22, 2019
By Dylan Ketcham
Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa at Arizona State University (GIS @ ASU) is dedicated to helping its members set themselves up for success in every possible way. In order to prepare students for GIS @ ASU’s Mock Interview night on February 19, GIS hosted a presentation on February 12 discussing how to prepare for any interview scenario. Working with ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services (CPDS), GIS’s members learned many techniques for success in the world of interviewing.
The presentation, delivered by CPDS Assistant Director Amanda Butkiewicz, focused on the preparation strategies for a strong interview, no matter the position. The presentation covered several helpful topics of discussion. Butkiewicz discussed how to answer the question “describe yourself” by summarizing your individual goals and strengths. The presentation also outlined how to make a great first impression, from dressing for success to communicating clearly and effectively. Additionally, the presentation discussed common types of questions asked during an interview and the best ways to answer them; thus, allowing students to feel confident tackling any question asked. Butkiewicz also provided students with a number of resources around the ASU campus that CPDS offers, allowing the members of GIS @ ASU to seek out more assistance and information if need be.
With the GIS @ ASU Mock Interview night approaching quickly, members were happy to learn as much as they could about the techniques and strategies necessary for a successful interview. With the help of ASU Career and Professional Development Services, students became better candidates and gained the invaluable skill of communicating in an interview setting. With these new skills at their disposal, GIS @ ASU members are more prepared than ever to begin building their careers.
February 11, 2019
By Kinsey Turk
On February 5, several Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) members had the honor of attending the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Hearts and Scholars Scholarship Dinner. The event was designed to acknowledge the achievements of CLAS students who received scholarships in 2018, as well as the donors whose philanthropy creates a lasting impact on the students’ lives. Recipients were able to sit across from those who invested their time and money into the success of others and give their thanks. With the support of donors, actuarial science students are able to become their best selves, professionally and personally. Instead of being burdened by financial strain, students can pass their exams, participate in extracurricular activities, and enter into the workforce confidently. However, the resources that the donors provide are more than just financial aid; both parties form lasting connections that will continue on long past graduation.
These donors ranged from former alumni to passionate professionals, and also included professors who already provide priceless time and opportunities to students. Altogether, $895,000 in scholarships was awarded to CLAS students. GIS @ ASU would like to congratulate all recipients and thank donors for their incredible acts of selflessness. With a new round of 2019 scholarship applications coming to a close, GIS @ ASU is looking forward to seeing the success of its members and the relationships that form as a result!
February 5, 2019
By Jonathan Kiperman
A diverse workplace, classroom, or overall community is one that is full of collaboration and unique ideas. Not only are inclusion and diversity important in a professional setting for cultivating ideas and seeing different perspectives on problem-solving, but also in day-to-day life. On January 29, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) hosted a presentation called “Navigating the Rainbow of Inclusion,” delivered by Arizona State University’s SafeZone group.
This event boasted an attendance of over 50 students and faculty members from all corners of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SOMSS). The session began with an “ice-breaker” to get the audience comfortable with one another and with the SafeZone speakers, Armani Jackson and Rohini Nott. The opening of the presentation stressed that the room was a “brave space,” where thoughts, questions, and opinions could be openly exchanged and considered. Jackson and Nott continued by providing an overview of the LGBTQIA+ acronym. With the terms defined and the distinctions explained, the speakers gave a more in-depth look into the world of the LGBTQIA+ community: the struggle with personal acceptance and external points of view, the intersectionality of identity, and strategies to tolerate and accept its members. Attendees learned about the importance of the TARA (Tolerance, Acceptance, Respect, and Advocacy) continuum model and brainstormed ways in which GIS @ ASU, the school, and the ASU campus as a whole could become more inclusive environments. Audience participation was encouraged and allowed the conversation to be more open, informative, and meaningful.
GIS @ ASU’s Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Dylan Ketcham, worked with the ASU SafeZone Workshop Program to put on this session that welcomed not only the actuarial community at ASU, but the entire school community. The members who attended this SafeZone workshop enjoyed the educational session and also saw it as a celebration of uniqueness. It is essential for anyone, professionally and personally, to have a proper understanding of the importance of a diverse and inclusive environment. This kind of understanding can be developed by asking questions, voicing opinions, listening to the opinions of others, and educating oneself through workshops such as “Navigating the Rainbow of Inclusion.” GIS @ ASU is very grateful to have had the opportunity to host this session, and looks forward to continuing to promote diversity and inclusion through similar events in the future.
January 29, 2019
By Ainsley Ramsey and Hailey Walters
On January 8, members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) attended a kick-off event for an actuarial case study, created and hosted by Mercer. At the kick-off meeting held at Mercer’s Phoenix office, each member got assigned to one of five teams to work on the case study, with each team mentored by a Mercer associate. Participants were allotted two weeks to analyze the given data and Medicaid-related information, collaborate on a creative solution to the question-at-hand, and create a presentation containing their results, recommendations, and justifications.
Two weeks later, GIS @ ASU members and Mercer associates met at Wexler Hall for the final presentations. Each team was tasked with delivering a 10-12 minute presentation to a panel of judges and other audience members. The panel of judges included Kevin Russell, Jim Meulemans, and Lisa Deyer, all senior leaders at Mercer. The judges used their experience and deep understanding of Medicaid to judge the presentations based on content, creativity, and each team’s ability to defend their methodologies through a round of questioning.
The content of each presentation was unique in its approach and demonstrated that the teams thoughtfully analyzed the prompt, data, and context of the project. After all five presentations were delivered, the judges were off to deliberate, and dinner was served. During dinner, GIS @ ASU members were able to mingle with other Mercer representatives who were also in the audience. This opportunity to network was great for students considering a career in healthcare consulting, seeking to learn more, and also for students new to the actuarial science program at ASU who were able to meet industry professionals for the first time.
Following deliberation, first and second place teams were recognized and awarded prizes. The first place team consisted of Leo Austin, Dylan Ketcham, Sarah Lemme, Connor Simpson, and Kinsey Turk, and was led by Mercer mentor Sanket Shah. The second place team consisted of Justin Fink, Luis Hernandez, Alex Rabine, Michelle Torbit, and Hailey Walters, and was led by Mercer mentor Terry Fuller. Both teams were given gift cards to reward them for their hard work over the past couple weeks.
GIS @ ASU congratulates the winning teams, thanks all members who participated, and extends the utmost gratitude to Mercer for putting on such a fantastic, fun event. This case study provided incredibly valuable experience and insight into “real-world” industry work for members. GIS @ ASU will continue to participate in similar types of case studies throughout the spring semester and coming years.
January 25, 2019
By Dylan Ketcham
The Arizona State University School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SoMSS) offers a total of 15 scholarships to stellar students, with 10 being focused specifically on the actuarial science career path. These financial resources are invaluable to students pursuing this difficult degree, by providing them with the stability they need to have a positive experience throughout their studies. On January 15, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at Arizona State University (GIS @ ASU) gathered its members to discuss the best methods and techniques they could use to apply to these scholarships. The officers of the club shared their personal experiences and successes, which resulted in the members of GIS @ ASU becoming more prepared to apply to receive the financial aid they need.
GIS @ ASU’s president, Hailey Walters, began the night with a discussion of which scholarships the SoMSS offers to actuarial students. Members were encouraged to apply for as many scholarships as possible, and also to nominate their favorite professor for the Charles Wexler Teaching Award. The members then divided into four groups, each led by officers and committee members, where informative discussions were held about the best ways to structure a personal statement. Members focused on techniques to create a personal statement that both tells the story of the applicant and also answers the questions that a scholarship may ask. The groups analyzed and edited an example essay, and then had open discussions to start the process of writing their own personal statements. Officers also encouraged the members to bring in drafts of their own personal statements to be reviewed during the upcoming tutoring sessions that GIS @ ASU will hold this semester.
Students who attended this event discovered the staggering amount of financial aid available to them, and were given the advice and the resources needed to apply. GIS @ ASU hopes that workshops like this one are providing members with all the insight they need to succeed in their college experience, as well as in the industry they see ahead of them. GIS @ ASU will continue to offer workshops in the future to cover more skills that students are urged to develop in order to make the best of their academic and professional journeys.
January 16, 2019
By Hailey Walters and Jared Paulus
The relationships between alumni and current students are essential for both professional and personal development. Networking events, such as happy hours, give students the opportunity to socialize while learning about the real-world situations that the alumni experience on a daily basis. To celebrate the new year, the Scottsdale GIS Alumni Council hosted a Happy Hour on January 11. The event was executed due to the efforts made by the co-directors of the council: Kelsi Knoles (IAT Specialty), Zach Hutson (Nautilus Insurance), and Caleb Hardee (Markel). Alumni, students, actuaries, underwriters, and other industry professionals gathered to socialize and network at the first event of 2019. Among those in attendance were members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at Arizona State University (GIS @ ASU).
The New Year Happy Hour was held at Scottsdale Beer Company, which provided a casual and laid-back environment for the after-work event. The event was a great opportunity for everyone to catch up after the holidays and reflect on a successful year. The trendy restaurant allowed for the participants to mingle while enjoying the cool Arizona weather, the latest NFL playoff games, and a packed house of good-spirited people kicking off their weekend. Appetizers, drinks, and food were generously sponsored by Markel and Nautilus Insurance Company, who display a consistent commitment to their local insurance community.
GIS @ ASU members had a great evening talking real-time and face-to-face with professionals in careers that they are interested in pursuing, while the professionals were enthusiastic about sharing their experience and wisdom with the driven and attentive students. The Scottsdale GIS Alumni Council continues to promote and demonstrate their commitment to GIS @ ASU members by providing opportunities, such as this happy hour, for students to network and build relationships with industry professionals. GIS @ ASU members are eagerly looking forward to another year of hard work and relationship-building in 2019!
December 4, 2018
By Dylan Ketcham
On November 30, the Casualty Actuaries of the Desert States (CADS) hosted their Fall 2018 meeting at Arizona State University. CADS, an organization dedicated to supporting and educating actuaries in the southwest United States, brought together a group of engaging speakers to present to the attendees. Members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) attended this meeting to learn more about the state of property and casualty insurance and discuss what changes are visible on the horizon. Through the presentations, GIS @ ASU members picked up on the pulse of a changing industry and learned valuable lessons about how to adapt.
The first goal of the meeting was to update members and attendees about current events involving CADS and the Casualty Actuary Society (CAS). The presentation touched on many important topics, including new ventures into online and innovative education. Additionally, data from CAS was shared on the growth that the society has seen, as well as new figures on the steady and important growth of diversity within the actuarial profession. Of significant importance was discussion involving the proposed merger of the CAS with the Society of Actuaries (SOA), which board members of the CAS voted not to continue pursuing. CAS Board Director James Lynch explained the reasoning behind the decision, and assured listeners that the CAS would continue to provide specialized and widespread support to its members.
Additionally, presenters shared their unique perspectives on topics related to property and casualty insurance. Lynn Gehant and Matt Roller from Allstate Insurance presented a discussion of factors that have the potential to affect frequencies of car insurance claims. They emphasized the importance of context when looking at what might affect claims and made clear that sometimes, one may not know the whole story. Gehant and Roller also shared a variety of aspects in modern society that should change how actuaries look at the factors that increase the frequency of automobile claims.
Following this, Kevin Vesel led audience members in an interactive presentation on various cognitive biases that can affect the ways that both consumers and professionals view insurance. This presentation encouraged viewers to start thinking about the subtle ways their natural thought processes could affect how they conduct business. These presentations helped attendees learn new, interesting facts about the insurance field and better prepare themselves for future challenges.
The CADS Fall 2018 meeting provided the insurance professionals and students with the opportunity to learn more and connect over shared experiences. Both aspiring and established actuaries gathered together to strengthen their knowledge of this ever-changing industry, and in the process they forged important and lasting connections. With this meeting, CADS has successfully motivated its members to continue their hard work and create an even better future.
November 27, 2018
By Kinsey Turk
The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) held its annual meeting from November 11-14 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Property and casualty actuaries from all over the world gathered to learn about advances in the industry and continue their education. This was the first year that the CAS student ambassadors were invited to attend the meeting and learn how they could help spread awareness of the profession at their university campuses. As ASU’s CAS Student Ambassador, Kinsey Turk, a GIS @ ASU committee member, had the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas and learn more about what she can do for ASU, all while making lasting connections with the other ambassadors.
On the first day, the ambassadors were introduced to each other, as well as to the fantastic CAS volunteers who ran the entire program. Students traveled from universities located all over the Midwest, East Coast, and even Canada. During many of the sessions, they compared and brainstormed ideas for events that their campuses could sponsor to best benefit students. Since many ambassadors were also officers of their school’s chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, they had tons of advice on events to help members develop communication skills, which Turk hopes to implement in the Kappa Chapter at ASU. Lastly, the most anticipated part of the conference was learning more about the “Stronger As One” initiative with the Society of Actuaries (SOA). The ambassadors were among the first to hear the news that the CAS board voted against the plans to merge the two organizations. Although the organizations won’t become one, the students are still looking forward to diligently working across organizational lines to benefit the insurance community as a whole.
On Monday, the ambassadors sat in on some of the general sessions, such as Talithia Williams’ presentation on diversity within the industry. This was especially relevant since GIS @ ASU is currently directing a focus onto its diversity and inclusion efforts. They also heard from data scientists and actuaries about their take on the similarities and differences between the two professions. One interesting comment was that data scientists lack a governing body, due to the belief that it could stifle progress. These sessions helped to give the ambassadors a more comprehensive view of property and casualty insurance outside of just the university.
Inviting the CAS student ambassadors to the annual meeting was an incredible opportunity, allowing each student to walk away with increased knowledge and inspiration. Furthermore, the connections that Turk made with the other ambassadors, as well as the student mentors, are ones that she plans to keep and continue to foster. Turk and the other ambassadors cannot thank Tamar Gertner and all the volunteers enough for putting together such an impactful event. In the future, GIS @ ASU hopes that the CAS continues to invite student ambassadors to the annual meeting, so that more GIS @ ASU students can have similar incredible experiences.
November 21, 2018
By Joshua Callahan and Dylan Ketcham
Every year the Arizona Chapter of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) organizes “I-Day”, a celebration of insurance and its impact. The goal of this event is to celebrate both the insurance industry and to learn more about the changing realm of insurance. I-Day also strives to connect established and aspiring professionals throughout the insurance field to build lasting relationships. Members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ASU) attended the event to show their support for CPCU and to learn more about the industry as a whole.
Organized by I-Day Director Rich Pudleiner and AZ CPCU President Jeremy Vick, the event brought together dozens of representatives from different companies and backgrounds, including agents, underwriters, and actuaries. This year’s I-Day theme, “Building your Legacy in Learning and Leadership,” was driven home with informative presentations, including a panel of insurance executives who shared their experiences and advice on being a leader in the competitive and always-changing world of insurance. There was even a conferment of honors to those who had completed their certification with CPCU, marking them as leaders in the industry.
Throughout the day, attendants broke out into informative sessions to gain new perspectives and learn new lessons about insurance. One session discussed the importance of ethics in insurance and how to make sure the response to an insurance claim is ethical. Participants examined real-life situations and made cases for the ethical or unethical nature of the response from agents, learning how to analyze the moral quandaries embedded in the insurance system and make the best decisions.
Another session discussed how satellite imaging and aerial drones would affect how claims are written. These technologies would make it easier and faster to see if damages are severe enough to justify a claim. This would make the insurance industry more efficient and change the way we think about the time separation between the claim and payment. Other sessions included more topics on leadership, as well as an interesting segment on using new telematics technologies to reduce risk for drivers. Each session taught new facets of the industry and highlighted the complexity and uniqueness of the profession.
Overall the I-Day event was packed with informative talks and networking opportunities that helped shine a light on the insurance industry for attendees. GIS @ ASU would like to extend their sincerest thank-you to the Arizona Chapter of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters for organizing the event. Special thanks go to Lamont Boyd, CPCU Director of Career/Candidate Development, for personally reaching out to the GIS @ ASU team and inviting them to the event. The members learned valuable lessons that they will undoubtedly use going into their respective careers.
November 15, 2018
By Ainsley Ramsey
On November 10, three officers from the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at Arizona State University (GIS @ ASU) traveled to Austin, Texas to attend the chartering of the new GIS Gamma Zeta Chapter at the University of Texas at Austin. Hailey Walters (President), Emma Terry (Treasurer), and Ainsley Ramsey (Public Relations) represented the Kappa Chapter at the UT Austin McCombs School of Business. This was an excellent opportunity for these officers to bring attention to GIS @ ASU, to act as role models for UT Austin students, and to network with faculty and officers from other schools including Temple University and St. John’s University.
The event began with networking, followed by a brief welcome and introduction by Sanjeet Hattarki, president of the Gamma Zeta Chapter at UT Austin. Next was a series of presentations, the first by Dr. Alisa Walch, a faculty member and GIS advisor at UT Austin, about the future impact of autonomous vehicles on the insurance industry. The second presentation, delivered by the three GIS @ ASU officers, focused on Gamma Iota Sigma through the lenses of the school, the industry, and the members. This presentation allowed GIS @ ASU officers to improve presentation skills, positively market ASU, and act as examples of students who have succeeded with the help of an organization like Gamma Iota Sigma. The final speaker was a second UT Austin faculty member, Dr. Patrick Brockett, who talked about the history of risk management, insurance, and actuarial science as they are known today. Following the three presentations, attendees were treated to an hour of dinner and networking.
During the chartering ceremony, a handful of leaders from different GIS chapters across the country played the roles of officers on a ship, because the origins of insurance can be traced back to ancient times when merchant ships were raided. The officers, including GIS @ ASU President Hailey Walters, spoke about the values, benefits, and the true meaning of Gamma Iota Sigma as a fraternity. Following the speeches, new members of the Gamma Zeta chapter officially signed their charter and received certificates commemorating the ceremony.
This event was an excellent way for GIS @ ASU officers to network with other students and GIS leadership from a variety of different universities. Through their presentation, the officers also were able to market the ASU School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences and actuarial science program as strong, successful, and well-rounded. GIS @ ASU would like to thank the UT Austin McCombs School of Business for hosting such an exciting event and wishes the best of luck to the newly-chartered Gamma Zeta Chapter.
November 9, 2018
By Dylan Ketcham
On November 3, organizations at Arizona State University came together to celebrate its homecoming week with a festive block party and parade. Various groups and units within the university set up booths to entertain the members of the community who had gathered for the exciting homecoming game and share more about the work that they do. Members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) joined the booth for the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SOMSS). GIS @ ASU members had a fantastic time while collaborating on various activities to make the celebration fun for the participants, many of whom were young children.
The block party booth for SOMSS included many different attractions hosted by volunteers for the homecoming guests. Volunteers passed out math-on-a-stick lollipops with stories of ASU SOMSS alumni who are doing great things and making a difference in their communities with their math degrees. Volunteers also made balloon animals and geometric shapes and handed them out to people who passed by. The balloons were a huge hit with kids and adults alike! Other volunteers performed magic, mind-reading tricks that were built on mathematical concepts, wowing the crowd and sparking an interest in the subject.
ASU’s Homecoming Block Party was a smashing success, with an abundance of people coming to enjoy what the organizations of ASU have to offer. GIS @ ASU was just one of the many groups that volunteered their time to help ensure that activities ran smoothly, and in doing so, members were able to share their enthusiasm for ASU with the attendees. Giving back to the community is an essential part of every organization, and GIS @ ASU is proud to have volunteered, and help bring joy to the people of the community.
November 5, 2018
By Jonathan Kiperman
On October 30, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) hosted its first-ever “Women in Actuarial Science” Panel. This event was not limited to members of the actuarial science degree program; students of all majors were welcomed and encouraged to attend. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the issue of the underrepresentation of women not only in actuarial science, but all STEM fields. Is there a way to fix, or at least diminish. this lack of representation? And if so, what steps can be taken to help?
The meeting began with the introduction of the panelists: Lydia Tolman (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona), Nura Patani (Segal Consulting), Katherine Long (Mercer), and Julie Tang (Optumas). For the next half hour, the panel was moderated by GIS @ ASU’s newly-appointed Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Dylan Ketcham. The professionals discussed their personal experiences as women in the actuarial field and how they have found their way through a male-dominated profession.
The panelists were then split among several tables to facilitate more personal and smaller-scale discussions with attendees. After the four actuaries rotated through each table, the meeting ended with some final words of wisdom from the speakers and a resounding and appreciative round of applause from the students. The night was insightful and educational for members as well as faculty.
GIS @ ASU would like to sincerely thank all of the panelists for taking the time out of their busy schedules to discuss their professional journeys as women in a male dominated field. This event marks the beginning of the chapter’s mission of increasing awareness of under-representation of women and other under-serviced groups in actuarial science and other STEM fields.
October 29, 2018
By Dylan Ketcham
On October 16, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at Arizona State University (GIS @ ASU) hosted a study session for their introductory class, as well as for the courses designed to prepare students for their first set of actuarial exams. This study session drew dozens of students, all ready and excited to improve their skills in financial mathematics, probability, and even long-term actuarial mathematics. These students connected while learning and solidifying the lessons they had learned in classes.
The study session was especially helpful as students prepare for upcoming exams in their actuarial classes. GIS @ ASU officers who had already passed the courses that students were studying for provided assistance as the newer members worked through practice problems and examples. This extra practice helped many students feel more confident about the concepts that would appear on the future tests and create a line of communication with the officers. The students will still study on their own after the study session, but the organized resources that GIS @ ASU provided was a significant help to those that may have been struggling.
Though the event focused on the academic side of GIS @ ASU, it also provided members with the opportunity to connect. The more casual structure of the event let students feel relaxed with each other as they studied, which led to students becoming better friends. Additionally, the students in earlier classes were able to talk with the upperclassmen as they provided tutoring. The students who are further ahead in the program had the opportunity to learn more about the new generation of actuarial students and offer invaluable advice. All-in-all, the study session was a great event for both academic and personal growth.
October 18, 2018
By Joshua Callahan
Keeping in stride with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s “Week of Giving”, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) gathered at St. Mary's Food Bank on October 13 to help provide food for hungry families. Alongside GIS alumni, GIS @ ASU officers and members packed food boxes for the elderly. The event was a huge success and a great way to build teamwork while helping the community.
The GIS @ ASU group eagerly entered the warehouse of St. Mary’s Food Bank and lined up along an assembly line. After some detailed instructions, volunteers were off filling boxes to be distributed throughout the community. Each person had to synchronize with the flow of the group, creating a great feeling of camaraderie. The room was filled with excellent throwback music, building momentum and inspiring quite a few sing-alongs.
During a break it was time for some friendly competition. A representative from GIS @ ASU and each of the other volunteer groups was challenged to move a cookie from their forehead into their mouth using only their facial muscles. Each group cheered for their representative as they attempted the impossible. While a GIS volunteer did not win, it was a great bonding experience before it was time to get back to work.
The assembly line was moving like a well-oiled machine. Boxes were folded and assembled by the first group of volunteers, pushed down the line to be filled with food, and then packaged for later distribution. The efficiency of the assembly line was made even more evident by those who moved the product from the stacks to the front line.
GIS @ ASU members also had the pleasure of working alongside GIS alumni from the Scottsdale GIS Alumni Council. Alumni members Zachary Broermann (UnitedHealthCare), Caleb Hardee (Markel), Zachary Hutson (Nautilus), Riley Joyce (Risk Placement Services), and Lily Alexander (Risk Placement Services) demonstrated their commitment to giving back to the community by volunteering their time on Saturday morning.
At the end of the two hours, the volunteers left the warehouse tired yet full of pride. During their time on the assembly line, they packed 720 boxes, which amounted to over 20,000 pounds of food that will feed those in need. Each GIS @ ASU member knows that a few hours out of their day is a small price to pay to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.
October 17, 2018
By Kinsey Turk
Four members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) were awarded 2018 Arizona CPCU Society Scholarships. Recipients Leo Austin, Emma Terry, Kinsey Turk, and Hailey Walters were invited to CPCU’s October 10th Luncheon held at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort. The scholarship winners had the opportunity to give thanks to many people who were involved in the selection process, especially Diane Scheidt, the director of education for the Arizona CPCU Society Chapter. All parties enjoyed getting to meet the faces behind the names and create lasting connections.
The Arizona CPCU Society Scholarship recognizes students pursuing degrees within the insurance industry for their academic and personal achievements. To be eligible, students must be enrolled full-time in college with a minimum 2.5 GPA. In addition, applicants were required to submit a 500-word essay on their future career plans and why they deserve the award, as well as a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.
Each winner received $1,000 to be applied towards tuition, textbooks, and other school-related fees. All four of the GIS @ ASU members surpassed expectations and submitted incredibly well-written essays demonstrating both their passion and determination for actuarial science and insurance as a whole. Receiving recognition for their hard work was incredibly gratifying and demonstrates the success that GIS @ ASU fosters.
After the scholarship recipients were recognized at the luncheon, a special presentation titled "Risk Management and Technology - for the Technologically Challenged” was given by Sandra K. Little, the director of enterprise risk for Bar-S Foods Co. Little discussed the basics of the risk management process and then demonstrated how technology and data fall into each of these steps. She closed her presentation by showing where and how technology will change the insurance industry, specifically with blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The presentation highlighted the growing importance of technology within the risk management industry.
The CPCU Luncheon was an incredible opportunity for GIS @ ASU members. Not only did they receive scholarships, but also they had the chance to sincerely thank the Arizona CPCU Society for its generosity.
October 14, 2018
By Joshua Callahan and Dylan Ketcham
Just a week after ASU’s Actuarial Science Career Day, officers and committee members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) were again given the opportunity to network and find new career opportunities at the 47th Annual International Gamma Iota Sigma Conference held October 4 - 6 in Chicago, Illinois,
Nautilus Insurance sponsored the trip for ASU’s Kappa Chapter and helped eight members attend. The annual conference saw its highest recorded turnout with nearly 600 students in attendance, representing over 70 different GIS chapters across the country.
The event was filled with informative sessions related to insurance topics, diversity in the workplace, chapter management, and fundraising, as well as technological changes in the industry and how to get ahead of the curve. These sessions were complemented by a career fair held in an adjacent ballroom featuring many of the most influential employers in insurance on the east coast. Throughout the sessions and career fair, students had the opportunity to connect with established professionals, as well as fellow students from the other chapters. These interactions proved especially beneficial for GIS @ ASU since Arizona was one of the farthest chapters attending, thus giving students exposure to groups they otherwise might never meet.
During mealtimes each day, the students were treated to delicious Chicago cuisine in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. Attendees were able to look at the fantastic view of Lake Michigan featured through the ballroom windows. During meals, many panels and individual speakers presented compelling and informative talks addressing some of the most pressing issues that the insurance industry is experiencing today. The topics included disruption throughout the industry and its effects on future professionals, overcoming bias to create diversity in the workplace, and maintaining safety standards with driving both as individuals and professional employees.
During the event many individuals and students were recognized for their hard work and leadership in the field of risk management and insurance. GIS @ ASU received five international chapter awards praising their commitment to the Gamma Iota Sigma core values: alumni relations, chapter management, community service, membership development, and public relations. GIS @ ASU was also awarded the well-rounded chapter award, achieved by maintaining continuous activity and alumni involvement throughout the academic year.
Many other hard-working chapters were recognized for their diligence and dedication. The 47th Annual GIS International Conference was a unique and rewarding experience, providing insight into an amazing career as well as fostering relationships that will reap rewards for years to come.
October 9, 2018
By Jonathan Kiperman
Following the Actuarial Science Career Day, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) held its final company-hosted visit of the fall. Allstate put together an action-packed event on October 2, featuring Samuel Scheele, Keith Quigley, and GIS @ ASU’s very own alumni, Jeff Durham and Bo Swoverland.
Durham wasted little time introducing the activity for the night. Four small groups of upperclassmen were formed to represent insurance companies. They were each given a certain amount of money and were left to design an auto policy that included a premium, a deductible, a limit, or any combination of the three.
The rest of the participants received a toy car and a smaller sum of money that could be spent on an auto policy at their choice of insurer. At each insurer’s table, a small array of targets were set up at one end and labeled with a hidden dollar amount. After the insureds selected their insurance policies of choice, they launched their cars from the opposite side of the table, attempting to avoid the targets. Whether or not the insureds hit a target would determine their losses.
After everyone had a turn and “claims” were settled, insurers were given the opportunity to revise their rates and adjust their policies. Each insured was given the option to remain with their current employer or shop around. After several rounds of this, the winning “insurance company” was the one that made the most profit, and the winning “driver” was the one who paid the least in damages.
After the meeting, Allstate’s commitment to help students was not over. The next day Allstate held on-campus interviews for summer internship positions. The members of GIS @ ASU are grateful for Allstate’s many contributions including hosting an engaging and educational meeting, participating in career day, and offering many opportunities for internships and employment. After a successful fall season of company-hosted meetings, expectations are high for next year.
October 7, 2018
By Joshua Callahan and Dylan Ketcham
On September 27, Arizona State University’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences hosted their annual Actuarial Science Career Day for the first time during the fall semester. Designed to connect actuarial and risk management students with employers, the event drew companies from across the country. Representatives from 25 companies and organizations were seeking bright and hard-working students for both internships and full-time opportunities. They were met with dozens of eager students not only from Arizona State, but also from the University of Arizona, as the mathematics and actuarial programs from both schools continue to foster a collaborative relationship.
The career day began with an introduction from the director of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Al Boggess, who extended a welcome to the employers and students in attendance, as well as thanked the staff who organized the event. Jeff Durham, the first student to earn a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science from ASU and now a senior actuarial consultant at Allstate, moderated a panel consisting of ASU alumni. Durham led a discussion with the panelists: Steven Locke (Nationwide), Grace Kennedy (USAA), Kelsi Knoles (IAT Specialty), Zach Broermann (UnitedHealthCare), and Jacob Langerman (Mercer). The panelists shared their experiences of balancing life with a demanding career, as well as other valuable lessons for students to consider.
The career day also featured a panel of senior actuaries, who provided the wisdom gathered from years of study and experience. The panel was moderated by Melissa Tomita (Nationwide), and included Bob Bessen (Bessen Actuarial Services), Laura Lenzer (Centene), Tim Doyle (Optumas), Lynn Gehant (Allstate), and Lydia Tolman (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona). The senior actuaries shared stories of how they have seen the industry change over time, and also provided engaging advice on how to view the trajectory of one’s career and gain new and useful skills to become a more valuable employee.
Between panels, companies participated in both one-on-one interviews and networking. During the short interviews, company representatives connected with students, sharing information on both the unique aspects of their company and the many opportunities available. During networking time, representatives were open to all students for answering questions and having entertaining and enlightening conversations.
Over 85% of the attending employers offered full-time or internship positions, providing the students with opportunities to gain critical workplace experience, and providing the employers the chance to get to know the next generation of actuarial professionals. The event was a huge success, with students and employers alike forging new and lasting connections.
September 26, 2018
By Jonathan Kiperman
On September 25, UnitedHealth Group visited the GIS @ ASU members. As a Fortune 4 company, they are industry leaders that specialize in three main categories of health insurance: employer and individual, Medicare and retirement, and community and state (Medicaid). The meeting they planned proved to be very engaging, informative, and competitive.
After some networking time with company representatives and GIS @ ASU members, UnitedHealthcare speakers Chris Maxedon and Nettie Meier began their presentation. Joining them were Chris Dunker, the mind behind several unique and entertaining prior club meetings, and GIS @ ASU alumnus Zachary Broermann. The team began with an overview of UnitedHealthcare (UHC), its values, the expanding responsibilities of its actuaries, and the upcoming summer internship. Then the real fun began — the Harry Potter-themed activities.
Attendees were split into four academic “houses” from the Harry Potter series: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. As two groups went outside to play a game of quaffle (shooting a ball into a basket), the other two groups remained indoors to compete in UnitedHealthcare trivia. The groups then switched activities and eventually came together for a game of “Guess the Muggle,” where the teams had to blindly match a description to one of the company representatives. After adding up the scores from all the games, the team with the most points was declared the winner.
Members of Team Ravenclaw were crowned champions, and each were given a trophy to represent the “Triwizard Cup.” Over fifty members attended this meeting and were rewarded with another engaging and successful experience. The ideal combination of presentation, activity, and alumni engagement, led to an exciting final meeting before the Career Day.
September 15, 2018
By Dylan Ketcham
On September 11, Humana gave an informative presentation about internship opportunities during the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) club meeting.
Humana representatives Matt Coles and Mike Webb began with a discussion of what makes their company culture special. They explained some of Humana’s unique programs, such as the social outreach program known as the “Bold Goal.” Special emphasis was placed on the way Humana works to create a culture that is willing to evolve, and the welcoming and supportive community within Humana for all of its employees.
The presentation also detailed several internship and educational opportunities that Humana offers to students in risk management programs. These opportunities include summer internships, full time positions for graduating seniors, and a summer educational program for freshman in fields related to actuarial science.
After the presentation, the speakers were open to questions from the attendees. The remainder of the evening involved engaging conversations with both the representatives of Humana as well as fellow members of GIS @ ASU.
With another successful event complete, GIS @ ASU has kept its momentum moving forward in the Fall 2018 semester. With new knowledge of Humana and their internship opportunities, students are more prepared than ever for the coming Actuarial Science Career Fair on September 27.
September 28, 2018
By Joshua Callahan
On September 18, Mercer visited the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) for a night full of fun activities, competition, and networking. Stacey Betz, Mercer’s Phoenix operations manager, began the night with a presentation about the company, its values, and its presence in the valley. The session was very valuable to students who were eagerly looking for summer internships, and provided a glimpse of what it’s like working for the human resources consulting firm. When the presentation concluded, students were ready to begin the great Mercer race.
After some quick instructions, the members of GIS @ ASU were divided into six groups and sent off to their first challenge. Each group developed teamwork and communication skills in this first event, which involved navigating blindfolded members through a “minefield” of plastic cups using only verbal instructions. The challenge was particularly difficult because the field was inundated with the shouting of directions by all the groups at once. Once completed, each group moved onto the second and third tasks: a speedy game of corn hole and a riddle-solving activity that led to a secret location and mission.
After all three challenges were completed, it was time to race to the finish line. Participants, faculty, and Mercer representatives met at Postino’s for a dinner networking event to close the evening. The first team to arrive was crowned the champion of the race, and received prizes provided by Mercer. However, everybody that participated went home a victor. Face-time with industry members is a valuable resource to students, especially this close to the Actuarial Science Career Fair. Meeting potential employers can often be seen as intimidating, but Mercer was able to provide a stress-free, fun-filled night.
The Mercer representatives moved from table to table connecting with students, answering questions, establishing relationships, and highlighting their company. Former GIS @ ASU club member, Jacob Langerman, attended the event and shared his stories and knowledge with current students. Since graduating in May of 2017, Langerman has been working full-time at Mercer. GIS @ ASU deeply appreciates the alumni support and involvement that it receives. GIS @ ASU is also very thankful to Mercer for their generous visit and are eager to see them at the quickly-approaching Actuarial Science Career Fair.
September 26, 2018
By Garrett Deimund
Building meaningful connections with peers, whether it be in the workplace or in a student organization, is a great way to improve engagement. Teamwork and collaboration are important throughout one’s professional career and developing these skills early is critical for success.
On September 15, officers from the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona, for a team-building retreat. This fun-filled weekend encouraged GIS officers to learn more about one another and how to better work together through the next academic year.
Officers began the trip with an exciting adventure at Flagstaff Extreme, which consisted of climbing and balancing on obstacles of all shapes and sizes while suspended in the trees, at times up to 60 feet in the air. After a long day at the obstacle course, officers enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant, relaxing in the cooler weather.
Whether officers were testing their limits on the obstacle course or getting to know each other over meals, it was clear that this retreat was instrumental in bringing the group closer together. Stronger relationships will bring efficiency and productivity to the everyday tasks of the GIS officers, resulting in a better experience for all GIS members.
GIS @ ASU would like to thank Ken and Sarah Levine for generously giving students the use of their Flagstaff cabin, encouraging students to build and foster lasting relationships.
September 11, 2018
By Jonathan Kiperman
As the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) approaches the Actuarial Science Career Day, opportunities for networking and positive first impressions serve as great practice for all new and returning members. On September 4, Nationwide hosted the first company-sponsored meeting of the fall semester, and it turned out to be a successful experience for students of all academic levels.
The large turnout at the GIS @ ASU meeting allowed for a variety of skill-levels, ages, and educational backgrounds to be on display during Nationwide’s presentation and planned activity. After a small networking session where the members had a chance to meet and talk with the Nationwide representatives, everyone settled in and listened intently as the hosts began to introduce the night’s activities.
After students were divided into eight groups, they were dispersed among three rooms. The object of the activity was to imagine that each group was the owner of a hockey team and stadium in Phoenix. The groups were provided with a list of coverage options including general liability, workers’ compensation, product liability, and several others. Each possible risk had its respective frequency and severity, and the coverage options (varying premiums, deductibles, etc.). After some time and deliberation, the teams recorded their decisions and congregated back to the original room to share their decisions based on sound logic or “gut-feelings”. A “pong-simulation” the followed to determine what the hockey team and stadium would have endured. The winning team was the one who spent the least amount of money through the hypothetical disasters! The winners were left to right: Sarah Lemme, Joseph Hoffman, Brent Porter, Fernando Correa Chavez, Leo Austin, Emma Terry, and Zhenghong (Luca) Chen.
This exercise was a great opportunity for members to meet new people, collaborate, and hear differing viewpoints. At its simplest, it was fun and informative, but a deeper dive can unveil the fact that it was a way to get members out of their comfort zone, to voice their opinions and strategies, and to show how interesting actuarial science and insurance can really be. Thus came an end of an incredibly strong start to the GIS @ ASU fall semester, courtesy of Nationwide.
September 3, 2018
By Ainsley Ramsey
On August 28, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) held its first meeting of the semester, Resume Review Night. The meeting was a prime opportunity for new members to familiarize themselves with the organization and its leadership, and for both new and returning members to polish their resumes in preparation for the upcoming Actuarial Science Career Day.
After effective advertising at the Fall Welcome and Passport to ASU events, GIS @ ASU is proud to have recruited students from the business and engineering schools. The Resume Review Night was full of students from many different academic backgrounds, but they all had one thing in common: a desire to learn about the opportunities available in the insurance industry.
The room was set up with eight different small table discussions, each led by a GIS @ ASU officer. After professors Jelena Milovanovic, John Zicarelli and Hongjuan Zhou and club officers introduced themselves, each table broke off into separate group review sessions. The leading officer at each table gave an overview of the resume structure and provided insight about effective resume-writing strategies. The groups then peer-reviewed each member’s resume one at a time, allowing members to improve their own work and to gain peer-review experience. Attendees were encouraged to move from table to table, receiving feedback on their resumes from other officers, and meeting as many peers as possible.
With record attendance at almost 60 students, the event was an excellent start to the semester. Students who attended the meeting gained more knowledge about resumes and the benefits of peer-review, and as a result, will be better prepared for the upcoming Actuarial Science Career Day on September 27.
August 31, 2018
By Hailey Walters
As the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) begins the school year with new leadership and ideas, GIS chapters all across the country do the same. No two chapters are alike, but they all have similar goals for their chapter: connect with students, build relationships, sharpen skills, and make known the ample opportunities available in the insurance and risk-management industries.
Each year, the Grand Chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma hosts a Leadership Symposium in Columbus, Ohio and invites the leadership from every chapter to attend. Officers from a multitude of colleges and universities are able to come together and exchange ideas, tips, advice, and stories. GIS @ ASU president Hailey Walters attended this year’s Leadership Symposium and had the privilege of meeting and interacting with officers from all over the country.
The three-day symposium kicked off to an enthusiastic start on August 24, with a group breakfast and introductions from the symposium planning committee. Its members included current students from various universities and recent alumni from many insurance companies –a perfect mix of experience and ideas.
The rest of the day was full of networking opportunities. The GIS leaders participated in “speed networking” with industry leaders, enabling them to ask all kinds of questions about making their events engaging for attendees. In return, the members of industry benefited from the conversations by hearing college students’ perspectives on their recruiting and marketing techniques.
Next on the agenda was the career fair, to learn about various internship and full-time job opportunities available to students in the insurance industry. This served as a unique tool for the GIS officers, as they could bring back the information they learned and share with their respective chapters.
As important as learning about the industry is, learning the ins-and-outs of running a GIS chapter is equally as important. The second day of the conference was spent in dynamic break-out sessions, each one dedicated to a specific topic that relates to the organization and management of a successful chapter. The break-out sessions covered fundraising, public relations, planning member events, engaging the industry and alumni, and more.
The leadership skills acquired when one participates in the administration of a school club are extremely valuable. This symposium was designed to make sure officers absorbed as many different aspects of club management as possible, so they could head home and share the ideas with their chapters.
GIS @ ASU is excited for Walters to share what she has learned and is looking forward to growing the chapter, preparing its members for success, and having a great school year.
August 28, 2018
By Kinsey Turk
With the start of a new academic year, student clubs and organizations are looking to add new members to their growing communities. Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) was among the many academic clubs that participated in the Passport to ASU event on August 15 at Sun Devil Fitness Center.
Passport to ASU was a perfect place for students of all years to find ways to become more involved on campus. GIS @ ASU officers and committee members spoke with potential new members, presenting some of the club’s benefits and opportunities. Club members also provided easy registration so that students who were interested in the first club meeting, Resume Review Night, could sign up with their email address to receive more information.
GIS @ ASU’s table was positioned next to ASU’s Math Club, a sister club within the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. The two organizations joined forces in recruiting new members and sharing the benefits of joining the organizations. Both clubs mutually benefited from working together and created new connections in the process.
GIS @ ASU members enticed potential new members by sharing snapshots about what makes a career in actuarial science or risk management so worthwhile. They asked students questions like, “Are you interested in obtaining paid internships?”, “Does finding a satisfying job with only a bachelor's degree appeal to you?”, and “Do you want a career with high job growth and salary?” Many had never considered insurance as a career and showed genuine interest in learning more.
By the end of the event, every sign-up sheet was full of student names who were excited to see what GIS @ ASU has to offer. This year’s Passport to ASU event was an unparalleled success.
August 17, 2018
By Hailey Walters
It’s that time of year again! The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) is excited to welcome first year students to the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, and more importantly: the first year of their college experience. GIS @ ASU dedicates itself to its members’ development and helping them best prepare for their careers, and that’s why we enjoy getting to know mew incoming students. We believe that when students get exposure to the insurance industry early on, they will build relationships and have more opportunities upon graduation.
On August 14, the school hosted Fall Welcome. With the start of the fall semester just two days away, students and faculty were eager to get to know each other. The GIS @ ASU officers gave a brief presentation about the club and its benefits to the room packed with enthusiastic first year students. After the main presentation from the school, GIS @ ASU officers engaged with the students about current academic and long-term career plans.
This event was also an opportunity for GIS @ ASU to reach out to students who were unfamiliar with the club or the plethora of career opportunities in insurance. As the semester begins, the GIS @ ASU looks forward to getting to know the new first year students.
June 18, 2018
By Garrett Deimund and Hailey Walters
Maintaining a strong relationship with alumni is essential in strengthening the connection between students and professional industry. These relationships lead to internships and other valuable opportunities. During the week of June 10-16, the Gamma Iota Sigma Alumni Council hosted its inaugural “Alumni Week” to strengthen these relationships. Alumni chapters across the country hosted networking events for students, alumni, and insurance industry professionals.
The Scottsdale Alumni Council hosted a happy hour at Social Tap in downtown Scottsdale to celebrate the inaugural Alumni Week. The Arizona CPCU Chapter and Nationwide E&S/Specialty generously sponsored the networking event. Traci Smith of Markel Corporation, Zach Hutson of Nautilus Insurance, and Jelena Milovanovic of Arizona State University worked hard organizing the event and securing funding. The efforts of these individuals are deeply appreciated among students and alumni.
The night was a huge success with over 40 attendees, including interns, GIS @ ASU members, and local industry representatives. Attendees spent more than two hours mingling over drinks and appetizers and getting to know new faces and out-of-town visitors. CPCU representative and long-time GIS @ ASU supporter, Lamont Boyd, was present to interact with students and alumni who frequent the organization’s luncheons. Steven Locke, GIS @ ASU alumnus, was also in attendance, exchanging stories with current students.
GIS @ ASU would like to thank Scottsdale Alumni Council and everyone who attended the first GIS Alumni Week happy hour for making it so successful. GIS @ ASU looks forward to more opportunities to network with the local insurance community, and eagerly awaits next year’s Alumni Week.
June 6, 2018
By Kinsey Turk
On June 1, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) members attended the Casualty Actuaries of the Desert States (CADS) Spring 2018 Meeting, held at Nautilus Insurance Group in Scottsdale, AZ. CADS is a professional organization committed to the support and continual education of actuaries throughout the states of Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Their meetings consist of engaging presentations that span a wide range of insurance topics. This event gave GIS @ ASU members an in-depth look into the professional lives of actuaries and the chance to expand their knowledge outside of the classroom.
The meeting was kicked off with an introduction from Ken Levine, CADS president and Nationwide E&S/Specialty vice president of finance. Levine welcomed everyone for attending, and provided brief biographies of the upcoming speakers. CADS places an emphasis on the validation of hard work, and takes time at the beginning of each meeting to acknowledge its members’ recent accomplishments. First, any member that recently became an associate or a fellow was asked to stand so the audience could congratulate them. Among those being recognized was GIS @ ASU’s alumnus, Jeff Durham, who just achieved his ACAS. Recognized next were those who had passed an actuarial exam since the last meeting, which included many GIS @ ASU members. Seeing the success of current members and their future accomplishments is incredibly rewarding.
In addition, two recent graduates of GIS @ ASU had the opportunity to present their senior theses. Jennifer Zhang presented her thesis on using generalized linear models to develop loss triangles in reserving. Using her model, loss triangles accounted for calendar year trends and analyzed how well current reserving practices are performing. Next, Bo Swoverland presented his thesis focused on modeling loss development factors for catastrophe claims. By using data on claims as recent as 2016 supplied by a local company, Swoverland created a linear model to predict claims within the first year of a catastrophe. Both graduates demonstrated the increasing development and growth in research that is taking place throughout the industry.
Several other presentations were given by CADS actuaries including chief actuary of Nationwide, Scott Roth, who discussed insuring Fannie Mae, and GIS @ ASU’s professor John Zicarelli, who discussed Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) Simulations – one of the top ten most influential algorithms of the past decades. The meeting also featured a presentation by Kim Jones, ASU professor and security manager, about how to manage a different type of risk: cyber security.
Altogether, the CADS Spring Meeting was a great opportunity for actuaries of all levels to join one another outside the work-setting and celebrate the profession. Everyone walked away with an increased appreciation for the industry and amplified knowledge. After all, as Ken Levine said, “We are all life-long learners.”
May 7, 2018
By Hailey Walters
As the academic year winds down and students finish up their final exams, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) is ending the year on a strong note. On April 20, GIS @ ASU hosted its end-of-the-year social to wrap up the 2017-2018 school year. The social was an amazing opportunity for the students to socialize and mingle in a stress-free, study-free environment.
The night would not have been possible without the Society of Actuaries (SOA), who sponsored the event, as well as Dr. John Zicarelli, who volunteered his home as the venue. GIS @ ASU would like to extend a huge thank you to both the SOA and Dr. Zicarelli. With their generosity and support, the chapter was able to host a social event for over 35 attendees from both GIS @ ASU and the local insurance community. Among the attendees were:
Several GIS @ ASU alumni attended as well, including Jeff Durham (Allstate), Steven Locke (Nautilus), Zach Broermann (UnitedHealth), Julie Tang (Optumas), and Alex Sabrowsky (Mercer).
The ASU students and faculty appreciate the local insurance community’s involvement in GIS club events. This year-end event was not only a great study break, but also a great time to network. GIS @ ASU respects the local professionals who took time to attend and interact with the students.
The end-of-the-year social also served as a platform to announce next year’s incoming officers and committee members of the club. As the club bids farewell to Jennifer Zhang, Bo Swoverland, and Brendan Sturm as officers, it welcomes Hailey Walters (President), Leo Austin (Vice President), Emma Terry (Treasurer), and Ainsley Ramsay (Public Relations). The club also announced new committee members Garrett Deimund, Alex Kirvan, Alex Rabine, Maja Stefanovic, Brendan Sturm, and Kinsey Turk. Brendan Sturm graciously stepped down as an officer and will serve as a committee member and mentor to new officers.
GIS @ ASU also says goodbye to graduating seniors. We are excited to see the impact the graduates are going to have on the insurance world, and we wish them the best of luck.
GIS @ ASU is excited for the year ahead, and is especially grateful for everyone who made this night possible: the SOA, ASU faculty, local insurance companies, GIS alumni, and current club members. Together we are creating an environment that prepares students for success, and we look forward to working together next year.
April 30, 2018
By Bo Swoverland
GIS @ ASU members Alex Rabine and Bo Swoverland volunteered at the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) annual golf fundraiser on April 27. The fundraiser took place at Ocotillo Golf Club in Chandler, where insurance professionals from across the valley participated in various games of golf and challenges. The event was a great opportunity for the duo to network with various non-actuarial insurance professionals.
Rabine and Swoverland worked the “Vegas Hole” where golfers placed bets on whether the players in their group could land the ball within a 10-foot radius of the par 3 hole. None of the players landed the ball within the radius, so all of the money from the bets went towards the CPCU scholarship fund. The fundraiser brought hundreds of dollars to the fund which goes towards the CPCU scholarship that has been awarded to several GIS @ ASU members, including Bo Swoverland.
After the golfing concluded, everyone continued to mingle over a catered lunch. Members had a great time socializing after a long morning of golf. During lunch, raffle winners and putting contest winners were announced. The event was a great success for everyone involved, and GIS @ ASU is proud to have been able to assist the CPCU with the event.
April 23, 2018
By Hailey Walters
On April 18, dozens of officers and members of ASU clubs gathered at the Passing the Pitchfork leadership banquet. These clubs ranged from honors fraternities to dance groups to philanthropy clubs, each of which impacted ASU’s campus in numerous positive ways. The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) officers and officer-elects attended this dinner to participate in the ceremony of transferring responsibility and opportunity.
As the spring semester comes to a close, GIS @ ASU is getting ready for a new year full of events, conferences, workshops, and competitions. This event was a perfect way for the chapter to bid a proper farewell to exiting officers Jennifer Zhang (President), Bo Swoverland (Vice President), and Brendan Sturm (Treasurer). Not only are Jennifer and Bo outgoing officers, but they are also outgoing students, as they will be graduating in May with their bachelor of science degrees in actuarial science. This dinner served as one of the last hoorahs for the seniors, as they finish up their academic careers and prepare to transition into working full-time.
When asked what he will miss most about being an officer of GIS @ ASU, Bo replied, “The camaraderie that the club provided me. I’m glad to have made so many connections and friendships with my fellow classmates that will last throughout my working career.”
Many of his peers agree that the best part of Gamma Iota Sigma is the community that the members have built together. GIS @ ASU is sad to see the current officers go, but excited for what the future holds for them, as well as for the incoming officers.
April 20, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic and Hailey Walters
On April 6-7, 2018, the Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA) partnered with the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SoMSS) at ASU to host its first ever “Risky Business” symposium in Tempe, AZ. The WSIA is a professional organization that supports insurance professionals from about 800 companies that operate in the excess and surplus lines (E&S). While providing networking opportunities for its members is one of the association’s core goals, the WSIA also dedicates itself to supporting college students majoring in risk management and insurance by offering a variety of educational and outreach programs.
Throughout the year, the association hosts symposiums for students interested in the insurance industry. These symposiums generally give students the opportunity to attend everything from career fairs to networking events to educational sessions, thus helping students jump start their career in insurance. This year’s symposium was the organization’s first ever foray into the southwest, and the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) members had the chance to participate.
The weekend began on Friday, when students from all over the country traveled to the Hilton Garden Inn in Tempe, where the symposium was hosted. Assisted by officers from the GIS @ ASU chapter, these students checked in and attended a career fair. This three-hour event featured nine different companies that write E&S business, giving students the opportunity to meet industry representatives and learn about the many career options available to a student interested in insurance.
Following the career fair, students were invited to the first session of the symposium: “WSIA and You”, presented by WSIA President, Brian Van Cleave. Cleave provided a concise introduction to the WSIA and the unique benefit of working in excess and surplus lines. His presentation was a great introduction to Saturday’s educational sessions, and it had the added benefit of showcasing the resources that the WSIA makes available to students (like scholarships, internships, and various conferences).
That evening, students had the opportunity to continue their conversations at a networking event hosted at Top Golf in Scottsdale. Students had the opportunity to meet their peers from other universities as well as representatives from local companies while enjoying dinner and golf together.
The symposium continued bright and early on Saturday morning with breakfast and an opening session held by Chris Behymer of Markel. Behymer gave a detailed explanation of “Surplus Lines Distributions Systems”, and offered advice in the form of “insurance truths”. To reinforce the concepts mentioned in his talk, various GIS alumni members then administered a case study that gave students the chance to build spaghetti-and-marshmallow structures, price policies for the structures, and underwrite the risks faced by the structures. The lecture and simulation gave students an introduction to the various careers available in insurance, from actuarial to underwriting to claims handling.
This knowledge was further reinforced by “Presidents’ Panel” that highlighted the experiences of Brian Gray of Markel, Tim Chaix of R.E. Chaix & Associates Insurance Brokers, Inc., and Brian Van Cleave of Euclid Architects & Engineers. Moderated by Traci Smith, a GIS alum, this panel gave students the chance to ask about everything from working in insurance to challenges in the insurance marketplace in the future.
Two sessions remained after lunch, and they had one thing in common; young professionals in the industry. Jeff Durham of Allstate, Samuel Cleveland of Nationwide, and Zachary Luety of GPW presented topics of their choice during the “Actuaries in Action” session. Learning about decision-making, catastrophes, and the benefits of programming is especially important for the up-and-coming students of this industry, because they need to keep up to date on trends and skills that will make them more attractive to future employers.
The last session was the “Young Professionals’ Panel”, featuring Traci Smith of Markel, Zach Hutson and Steven Locke of Nautilus Insurance Group, Jeff Durham of Allstate, and Kelsi Knoles of Nationwide E&S/Specialty. The panel was moderated by Ken Levine, the CFO of Nationwide E&S/Specialty, who was able to provide his own interesting insight and anecdotes. Similar to the previous panel, students could ask the panelists questions about their time in school, their studying processes, and their transition from college to working full-time. This advice is invaluable to students of all ages, but was especially applicable to upperclassmen seeking jobs in various E&S companies.
The WSIA succeeded in putting on a student-oriented symposium with interesting and relevant learning sessions, as well as great opportunities for students to make connections with one another. GIS @ ASU wants to give a huge thank you to all the individuals who made this event possible—the students can’t wait to attend next year’s Risky Business Symposium.
April 9, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic
On March 28 Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) members attended the Arizona Actuarial Club’s spring meeting. The Arizona Actuarial Club is a professional organization comprised of members from local insurance and consulting companies who are dedicated to continuous learning and development. The club hosts informative presentations twice a year for members to broaden their knowledge, stay up to date with the insurance industry, and network with local actuarial professionals.
Daniel Bauer, an associate professor at the University of Alabama, was invited to present on capital allocation at the spring meeting. He teaches actuarial science, analytics, and quantitative finance classes. In addition, Bauer is the Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company Endowed Chair in Actuarial Science and Risk Management, where he leads the college’s actuarial science academic program.
To kick off the presentation, Bauer explained that capital allocation is the determination of the amount of a firm’s capital that will be assigned to each line of business. Since each line of business that is undertaken by a firm shares a different pool of risk, capital is allocated to maximize the firm’s profit. Although capital allocation is commonly used for the purposes of pricing and performance measurement by financial institutions, scholars have shared criticism about the coherent approaches for capital allocation and its necessity.
The argument is that risk measure is arbitrary and may not connect to the underlying economics of the business. However, through the discussion of risk measurement, calculation of risk-adjusted return ratios, and showing the differences in asset and liability risk, Bauer was able to prove that capital allocation can be and should be grounded in an economic context.
Overall, the presentation was highly informative and a valuable experience for all attendees. Members also had the added benefit of being able to build connections with local actuarial professionals that attended the meeting. GIS @ ASU members look forward to attending the Arizona Actuarial Club’s fall meeting.
April 7, 2018
By Garrett Deimund
On March 20, Humana representatives Michael Webb and Matt Coles visited the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU), traveling all the way from their company headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. Humana currently offers an Early Career Development and Shadowing Experience for freshmen that gives them insight into various insurance careers. One of our own members, Ainsley Ramsey, participated in this development program and will be interning for Humana for this coming summer.
Although they were not looking to fill internship positions, they were able to provide GIS members with something just as valuable: advice on landing their dream job. Webb currently works as a consultant in the office of Humana’s chief actuary, leading recruitment and developing initiatives for their actuarial community. Through this role, Webb has developed three steps that he believes are instrumental in helping one land their dream job: building a personal brand, networking, and interviewing.
Learning how to market yourself and interact with future employers effectively are extremely valuable skills for all students to possess. By creating a unique resume and perfecting your “elevator speech”, you are able to better distinguish yourself from other candidates. This step is just as important as the interview itself, and often helps you land the interview in the first place. Webb touched on what you should do during an interview, such as maintain good body language and aski meaningful questions, as well as what you should avoid, such as looking at your watch and answering the interviewer’s question before they have finished speaking.
Webb concluded the presentation by introducing behavioral interview questions and explaining the STAR method. Most behavioral interview questions will begin by “tell me about a time when…” and will continue on to ask for a scenario in which the interviewee demonstrated some type of skill that the interviewer wants to hear about. The STAR method is a great approach to these questions, and Webb went over the method and immediately put it to the test.
The first step in answering these questions is explaining the “Situation” at hand. Next, students are advised to discuss the “Task” or “Action” that they personally took to accomplish their goal or overcome their hardship. Last, the response wraps up with the “Result”, where the students discuss the outcome of the entire situation and what they learned.
Webb decided to give the students more experience with this method and took volunteers from the audience to ask them a few sample questions, interview-style. After they answered the question, he provided suggestions on how they could improve their responses. The advice included how to choose scenarios that best fit the question, how to create concise conclusions that sum up the entire story, and how to effectively share the lesson learned.
This demonstration and overall presentation helped both the participants and other audience members feel better prepared for future interviews and become more familiar with potential interview questions. As acquiring an internship is invaluable experience for actuarial science students, GIS @ ASU would like to thank Humana for taking the time to come and present on this very important topic and giving its members the tools they need to succeed in the workforce.
April 2, 2018
By Bo Swoverland
Every year the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences hosts a dinner sponsored by Dr. Jonathan Wexler in honor of his father, Dr. Charles Wexler, who was the founding chairman of ASU’s mathematics department. The dinner was designed to support the top seniors studying in the school.
Two officers from the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) were invited to attend the March 22 dinner: Zhihan Jennifer Zhang and Bo Swoverland. GIS @ ASU director Dr. Jelena Milovanovic, the 2018 Charles Wexler Teaching Award recipient, and Zhang, the 2018 Charles Wexler Mathematics Prize winner, as well as Swoverland, represented the program and the chapter at the dinner.
This year, 18 seniors and seven faculty and staff members were invited to attend the dinner. The event began with hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, giving the participants a chance to meet and socialize with one another. A few group photos later, dinner was served. Throughout dinner, the students and faculty introduced themselves, talked about their favorite fields of mathematics, shared interesting stories, and enjoyed the delicious entrees served.
When dessert was served, the students switched tables, which allowed them to meet other students and faculty and grow their network even further. Because the school covers so many different fields related to math and statistics, many of the participants met for the first time at the dinner. This did not stop them from socializing all throughout the night, however — everyone enjoyed the opportunity to hear about so many different experiences.
The dinner was a very valuable experience to those who attended. Students were able to grow their network with students and faculty with one common passion: mathematics. Bo, Jennifer, and Dr. Milovanovic are extremely thankful for being invited to the Jonathan D. and Helen Wexler Mathematical Sciences Senior Dinner, and enjoyed strengthening their relationships with math students and faculty. GIS @ ASU is excited for more of its members to participate in events like this one in the future!
March 30, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic
On March 22, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) members enjoyed their night watching the Arizona Diamondbacks take on the Chicago White Sox and networking with members of the Scottsdale Gamma Alumni Chapter. Although the outcome of the game was not favorable for Arizona baseball fans, with the Diamondbacks losing 3-1 to the White Sox, the event was still a great opportunity for members to escape the classroom and continue to build relationships with local GIS alumni.
The student-alumni events are an especially effective way to grow the students’ knowledge of the industry, since the GIS alumni have a wealth of experience and skills to share with them. At this event, GIS members got to interact with four local GIS alumni: Traci Smith from Markel, Zach Hutson from Nautilus Insurance, Laura Barron from All Risks, and Zach Broermann from United Healthcare.
“These events provide a way for us to give back to programs like Gamma Iota Sigma that were so vital to our success as students and young professionals,” shared Traci Smith. “Most young professionals are in a ‘mentee’ position of some sort, but a lot can be learned from being a mentor to someone else when you have been in their situation. It’s really rewarding to be an outside source for students as they prepare to graduate and start their own careers.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of jobs are found through some form of networking. GIS @ ASU members take full advantage of opportunities to establish connections and network with professionals. At the student-alumni social events, students interact, get to know one another, and gain professional advice. The club is excited about the next student-alumni event, which will take place during GIS alumni week from June 10-16.
March 28, 2018
By Christine Liu
During the weekend of March 23 through March 25, 2018, the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, in partnership with with the Arizona Chapter of the American Statistical Association, hosted the first ever DataFest at Arizona State University. The event is a nationally-coordinated annual data hackathon organized by the American Statistical Association (ASA) in which teams of two to five undergraduate students are given a rich, complex, real-world data set and a limited time frame in which they must work together to analyze and extract meaning and present their findings to a panel of judges.
Fifteen teams of students participated in this year’s DataFest at ASU. No information about the source or content of the data was made available to the teams until the start of the event at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 23. The event occurs across several universities nationwide over seven weeks from mid-March to early May, and participants at all locations agree not to disclose information about the company that provided the data or about the data they were given. The teams then have less than 48 hours to make ‘sense of the data’, run statistical analyses, and prepare a short presentation by 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 25. ASU faculty, graduate students, and industry professionals with expertise in statistical analysis were available as mentors throughout the event to provide guidance and support.
This year’s event featured a large data set provided by a well-known national technology firm. A representative from the company served on a judge’s panel that was composed of a mix of leaders in academia and industry. Each team’s final presentation had to be less than five minutes long and make use of no more than two slides. Winners were awarded in the categories of Best in Show, Best Visualization, Best Use of External Data, and Best Business Insight or Value. GIS @ ASU members Gabriel Clonts and Christine Liu, along with other members of “Team - Average” Mehdi Moustaoui and Alexandra Ryazanova, were awarded Best Visualization.
For many participants, the event presented an intense experience due to the pressure of the short amount of time in which they had to explore the data, design effective visualizations, and prepare a cohesive presentation. The students came away from the experience with invaluable insight into the process that professional statisticians and analysts go through in their jobs every day. They also had the added benefit of being able to increase their skill set in working with statistical software in a very short amount of time as well as the opportunity to expand their professional networks. GIS @ ASU looks to participate in events like DataFest in the future!
March 12, 2018
By Garrett Deimund
On February 27, GIS @ ASU hosted its third annual CAS Case Study Competition providing actuarial science students the opportunity to work through real-life problems that actuaries face in the property and casualty insurance field. The CAS, in conjunction with ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, established a prize pool of $2,500 for the winning team.
This year’s event tasked four groups of six students each with creating a warranty pricing plan for D-Mobile, a fictitious nationwide seller of cell phones. Students were to create a presentation for company executives that included calculating a proposed premium for the warranty and estimating company expenses, taking into account rating factors and attributes of the various phones that could potentially affect losses. The presentations also included additional considerations that the teams were encouraged to explore, such as adjusting the deductible, implementing a policy claim limit, and offering an additional loss and theft endorsement. The case study gave students insight into the complex process of calculating premiums, an essential aspect of the actuarial profession.
A panel of seven local property and casualty insurance professionals judged the case study: Becky Hoffmann, Mark Weihs, and Melissa Tomita from Nationwide E&S/Specialty, Lynn Gehant, Jeff Durham, and Nick Klinka from Allstate, and Nicole Perilstein from Nautilus Insurance. After each team’s presentations, the judges were given an opportunity to ask questions about the methodology and assumptions made in forming their pricing plan.
The GIS @ ASU is proud to say that all teams put significant effort into both their calculations and presentation skills. All the judges were impressed at the complex solutions that students produced. In the end, they selected team “Trend Setters” as the winner due to the creativity and ingenuity involved in formulating their solution. After a successful turnout, the members of GIS are eagerly awaiting next year’s case study and are excited see what the CAS has in store.
March 7, 2018
By Hailey Walters
The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU), and ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, both place value in the exchange of knowledge and experiences, especially among students and faculty. Charles Wexler maintained that same value ever since he founded the Department of Mathematics in 1930. Wexler remained the sole math teacher at ASU for 11 years, and taught at ASU for 47 years, a record-breaking period of service for the university.
Dr. Jonathan Wexler, son of Charles Wexler, created a fund in his name and his mother's name, to honor his family's legacy in mathematics at Arizona State University by enhancing mathematics through social programs, such as the dinners, benefiting students and faculty in the school.
Every year, the school hosts the annual Wexler Mathematical Sciences Senior Dinner. This dinner is a fantastic way for seniors majoring in the school to spend an evening socializing with other students, as well as math and stats faculty. This year, thanks to the generosity of the Wexlers, the school was able to also host the Inaugural Mathematical Sciences Junior Dinner! Following in the footsteps of the senior dinner, this dinner allows for juniors to get to know each other and communicate with faculty that they may or may not have taken classes with.
Two members of GIS @ ASU, Brendan Sturm and Hailey Walters, were very pleased to have been invited to the first of many Wexler Math Junior Dinners. Since actuarial science students don’t take as many pure mathematics courses as other math majors, this event served as a great opportunity to mingle with students and professors they have not yet met.
The event kicked off at 5:30 pm, on Tuesday, February 20, with some hors d’oeuvres and refreshments in the University Club on the Tempe campus. After some brief discussions and several group photos, it was time for dinner! Faculty and professors were placed among several tables, and students were able to seat themselves among them, to ensure that every faculty member was surrounded by four students. Throughout dinner the students and faculty maintained upbeat and lighthearted conversations about their studies and future plans.
When dessert came, the students up and switched seats so they could maximize their experience at this dinner and spend time talking to as many faculty members as possible. Rhonda Olson, manager of marketing and communication for the school, declared that there is no better time than right now to make connections with your peers, and these relationships will benefit you in plenty of ways in the future.
This dinner was very valuable to the students and faculty who attended and will continue to be a beneficial experience for future invitees. GIS @ ASU is excited to see its members building their relationships with other math students and cannot wait to participate in more events like this one!
February 27, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic
Every year, Arizona State University opens its doors to the local community during its Open Door event. This family-friendly event gives visitors the opportunity to experience ASU firsthand and take a peek into what happens inside the classrooms of the most innovative university in the nation. Children of all ages can let their imagination run wild while exploring laboratories, living collections, museums, and classrooms to participate in hands-on activities. The interactive hands-on activities offer a wide spectrum of sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics, humanities, and the arts.
The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SoMSS) is a major partner in the ASU Open Door. On February 24, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) members gave back to the community by volunteering during the Open Door event. Each member that participated agrees that it is a tremendously rewarding endeavor to inspire the next generation of actuaries, statisticians, and mathematicians. Members set up hands-on activities and fun demonstrations that showcase talent and ingenuity of our SoMSS faculty and students. Children were able to broaden their mathematical knowledge by creating paper plate polyhedrons, gum drop and toothpick tetrahedrons, and geometrical shapes with balloons.
The members of GIS @ ASU value the opportunity to help children expand their educational experience. The club is very excited to continue furthering its connection with ASU and the community.
February 19, 2018
By Garrett Deimund
On February 15, the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences hosted its third annual Actuarial Science Career Day. These events are excellent ways for students to build connections with potential employers while also hearing worthwhile career advice from industry practitioners. This year’s career day, which gave actuarial science students the opportunity to network with actuaries and analysts from across the nation, boasted record attendance with representatives from 23 insurance and consulting companies totaling just under 60 professionals. New this year, the student audience consisted of a dozen actuarial science students from the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. This is the first step in building a collaborative relationship amongst the Arizona universities and their respective actuarial science programs. The event consisted of two informative industry panels, one-on-one speed interviews, and open networking sessions between all students and companies.
The career day began with Al Boggess, director of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, welcoming both the students and employers. Boggess then introduced the ASU Alumni panel, moderated by Jeff Durham, the first graduate from the actuarial science program at ASU. The panelists were recent actuarial science graduates and included Zach Broermann, Shea Ingram, Kelsi Knoles, Julie Tang, and Steven Locke. The panelists answered students’ questions spanning from how they became involved with actuarial science, to tips for applying to internships and full-time positions.
Following the panel, students spent the next hour networking and participating in prescheduled one-on-one speed interviews. Next up was the Senior Actuaries in Action panel, featuring six accomplished actuaries from distinct insurance and consulting firms. The panel was led by Ken Levine, former chief actuary and now CFO at Nationwide E&S/Specialty. Levine also teaches a seminar course at ASU titled Business Personations. Panelists shared insight about the work they do in their current roles, tips on how to best prepare for interviews, and how students can make themselves more marketable. The senior actuaries also offered their predictions for the future of the actuarial profession, as well as tips on being successful in a full-time analyst position. The career day ended with one final networking session, giving students another opportunity to interact with potential employers.
Almost a dozen attending companies were looking to fill full-time or internship positions, giving actuarial science students of all levels the chance to gain valuable industry experience. Overall the event was a huge success, with students learning more about local and regional insurance and consulting companies, while simultaneously marketing themselves to these prospective future employers. The industry professionals also discovered more about the future actuarial science graduates, further cementing the relationship between the industry and the actuarial science program at ASU.
February 11, 2018
By Hailey Walters
Generosity and philanthropy make the world go ‘round, and the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) has been able to experience this firsthand, thanks to the amazing scholarship opportunities that are available to the students in the actuarial science program. This year, nine scholarships were designed and awarded to students who are pursuing an actuarial science degree at ASU! The donors range from companies in the industry, actuarial faculty, and even families who have a passion for seeing students thrive in this field. These scholarships enable students to focus on what’s really important: passing their classes, studying for and taking the actuarial exams, and getting involved in their local insurance community.
Not only do these scholarships provide financial aid, but they also provide students with unparalleled support and motivation; they get the feeling that someone is always in their corner, rooting for them to succeed. Fostering a connection between the donors and the recipients of these scholarships is extremely important and beneficial to both parties. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) recognizes the importance of these relationships and hosts an annual dinner to unite the donors and the recipients, and celebrate philanthropy altogether.
The recipients and donors from the actuarial scholarships awarded last year were invited to the CLAS’s Hearts and Scholars Scholarship Dinner on Thursday, February 8th. Students from many different areas of study were able to interact, talk to scholarship donors, and enjoy dinner together. The program began with an inspiring video about some of the things that students in ASU’s CLAS accomplish on a day-to-day basis, and also included several speeches from leaders in the college. The program then held an open forum in which students were invited to share their personal stories of how philanthropy has impacted their lives. Lastly, the program concluded with opportunities for pictures and more socializing.
Philanthropy has certainly had a positive impact on students in GIS @ ASU, and the club is honored to bridge the gap between its members and the financial and moral support that they need. GIS @ ASU is excited to watch more of its students receive scholarships and build long-lasting relationships!
February 5, 2018
by Maja Stefanovic
On January 30th, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) paid the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) a visit. As a part of the SOA University Outreach program, SOA staff and local professional actuaries met with ASU faculty and students, providing them with information on the exam process, curriculum changes, and professional advice. The SOA strives in reaching out to aspiring students interested in the actuarial profession by visiting universities and colleges around the world.
The evening’s presentation was organized by SOA marketing project specialist, Brenda Sawyer, and academic administrator, Tiffany Tatsumi. The SOA University Outreach event also brought featured actuaries James Meulemans, Garry Smedinghoff, and Lauren Zhang, who were a part of the actuarial panel that shared their professional experience and offered advice to students.
The importance of interpersonal skills was greatly emphasized by the actuarial panel. Taking a public speaking class while in college was recommended to help students build their skills and prepare for their actuarial career. In addition, the panel stressed the development of data programming skills while in college. They noted that having these skills not only makes the transition to the actuarial workforce easier, but also helps set a candidate apart from others. Lastly, the panel advised the importance of passing actuarial exams while in college. The actuaries suggested prioritizing and managing time spent on studying for the exam while simulating exam conditions to best help prepare for the challenging exams.
Another important subject explored by SOA staff was the upcoming ASA curriculum changes. The SOA decided to revise the curriculum as part of its ongoing efforts to support and enhance the actuarial profession. In total, the number of components will increase from 10 (3 VEE subjects, 5 exams, FAP, and APC) to 12 components (3 VEE subjects, 6 exams, 1 proctored project, FAP, and APC). The major change is the addition of a new “Statistics for Risk Modeling” exam and “Predictive Analytics” project. Since the actuarial program at ASU focuses on corresponding ASU courses to the actuarial examinations, many students were wondering how the change will affect the actuarial program. To help prepare students for the “Statistics for Risk Modeling” exam, a course on business forecasting using statistical techniques was designed.
Often the hardest part about starting a new career is making connections. To help students, the SOA provides resources online for students to connect with local actuaries and view job opportunities. “SOA Explorer” is an interactive tool that can be used to find SOA members, employers, universities/colleges, actuarial clubs, and jobs by geographic region. Through this tool, students can easily reach out and form connections with actuaries.
GIS @ ASU is committed to nurturing talents of future actuarial professionals and together, with the SOA, can work to increase the number of candidates interested in the actuarial career path. Overall, the SOA University Outreach event was beneficial to students in all stages of their education. GIS @ ASU looks forward to having the SOA visit again in the future.
January 29, 2018
By Zhihan Jennifer Zhang
On January 18, 2018, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) worked together with Mercer to host the first ever Mercer case study competition. The competition grouped students of all grade levels into teams of five or six and challenged them to analyze one of the most significant public programs in America: Medicare.
Originally enacted in 1965, Medicare is a program designed specifically to help provide health care services to retirees over the age of 65. Though the goals of the program are clearly admirable, growing medical costs and an increasingly aging population in recent years has caused many to question the sustainability of the program. As a result, the goal of the case study was particularly relevant: each of the four teams was asked to evaluate the current trajectory of Medicare and propose reforms that could revamp the program.
“The case study was a great opportunity for us to work together as a team and try to tackle the very real-world problem of healthcare,” says Bo Swoverland, a senior in the actuarial science program. “We all learned a lot about Medicare through the experience.”
Each team was given a week to compile their recommendations into a 10-12 minute presentation. A panel of judges composed of senior leadership from Mercer judged the presentations based on clarity, thoroughness, and innovation, and further tested the teams by asking questions after each presentation.
The decision was not an easy one, but it came down to the unique and well-thought out reforms presented by the winning team. The six students — Brendan Sturm, Haley Schumann, Blake Marx, Demetri Broin, Haoran Liu, and Jasmine Riggs — all received $250 gift cards as a reward. Their mentor, Terry Fuller from Mercer, received a gift card as well.
“I had never thought about Medicare as a program before this case study competition,” confessed Brendan Sturm, one of the students on the winning team. “As a result, the Mercer case study competition was a great test of creativity and problem solving. I really enjoyed the experience and I look forward to participating again next year.”
The participating students all agree: the case study competition was an awesome experience, and GIS @ ASU hopes that Mercer will continue to host similar events in future years.
January 29, 2018
By Hailey Walters
The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) is extremely eager to host the Actuarial Science Career Day on February 15, and has spent much of January preparing its students for the event. This week, GIS @ ASU wanted to focus on ensuring that students start out on the right foot with their potential employers. Resumes are often the very first link between candidates and employers. Therefore, the club decided to hold a resume workshop to help students refine their resumes.
Following a successful personal statement workshop, GIS @ ASU held a resume workshop on Tuesday, January 23. Students in many different stages of the program attended in preparation for the career day and brought rough drafts of their own resumes. The meeting began with a brief overview of the types of elements found in well-written resumes — specifically, what details to include, what diction to use, and what kind of information is relevant to employers.
After the brief introduction, it was time for students to receive all the peer feedback they could get on their resumes. Officers of the club and faculty members looked over countless resumes and made suggestions for each. Feedback ranged from formatting suggestions to constructive criticism on the content. Members of the club also looked at other members’ resumes to get a feel for what other students at similar levels included on their resumes.
The resume workshop provided a unique opportunity for members to get to know each other by examining and critiquing each other’s resumes. At the same time, every student became one step closer to leaving a lasting impression on companies at the career day. After two successful workshops this spring semester, there is no doubt that GIS @ ASU will continue to host these types of meetings for the betterment of its members
January 21, 2018
By Hailey Walters
Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa at ASU (GIS @ ASU) encourages its students to strive for success. While pursuing a degree as rigorous as actuarial science, GIS @ ASU wants to ensure that its students have all the resources they need in order to focus on their work and community involvement. Some of these critical resources are scholarships. This spring, ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences is offering 14 undergraduate scholarships, including nine specifically designed for actuarial students.
The key to successfully obtaining a scholarship is crafting a unique personal statement, one that encapsulates your achievements, as well as your personality. GIS @ ASU’s Jennifer Zhang lead a personal statement workshop on January 16. Students in the actuarial science program were invited to create rough drafts of their personal statements to bring to the workshop and receive peer feedback.
Zhang began the meeting with a brief overview of the scholarships that are available to the undergraduate students, and then transitioned into teaching the essential elements to include in a personal statement. The students had the opportunity to review and provide feedback on some examples of personal statements that were well-articulated and those that still needed a little work.
Zhang taught that personal statements should show who you are and set you apart from the crowd. She made certain to emphasize that it is important to be genuine. When applying for a job, resumes will show achievements, but personal statements will explain what you learned from them and how you plan on incorporating them in your life later on down the road. If written well, personal statements give potential employers the chance to really get to know their candidates.
The students who attended this event were able to more fully understand the fundamentals of writing a personal statement and walk away with some useful peer feedback. GIS @ ASU looks forward to hosting more insightful workshops like this in the future.
January 19, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic
Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) member, Maja Stefanovic, was recently honored with the Elizabeth A. Kocur Memorial Scholarship through The Institutes Griffith Education Foundation. The Griffith Foundation provides scholarships to students studying insurance, risk management, and actuarial science across the country. The foundation strives to fill the need of preparing future professionals for the insurance industry by providing them with educational aid.
“I was very thrilled to learn that I was selected as a recipient of the Elizabeth A. Kocur Memorial Scholarship,” said Stefanovic. “I am grateful to find scholarship opportunities such as the ones The Institutes Griffith Insurance Education Foundation offers. It makes me feel that I am not alone in accomplishing my educational goals.”
GIS @ ASU is proud to have a member receive such a generous scholarship from The Institutes Griffith Insurance Education Foundation. Stefanovic also received the Arizona CPCU and Tom and Zona Lorig scholarships in the past year. As a junior, Stefanovic has passed two actuarial exams and will be starting her second actuarial internship this summer.
January 17, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic
Every month, the Arizona Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters Society (CPCU) hosts a luncheon for a presentation on current insurance topics. Along with an intriguing presentation, the Chapter kicked off the year by recognizing the Arizona CPCU Scholarship recipients. Education is one of the core values of the organization, and Arizona’s CPCU chapter showed their support by generously offering five scholarships to students in fall 2017.
Club members Emily Stampfel, Maja Stefanovic, Bo Swoverland, Hailey Walters, and Zhihan Jennifer Zhang each received a $1,000 scholarship from the Society to recognize their commitment to the profession and help fund their educational needs. The CPCU Chapter members were pleased to see that the CPCU Scholarship fund is going out to aspiring students that will help lead the industry in the near future.
The CPCU Chapter focuses all their presentations on topics that will be interesting to vast employees of the insurance industry. For this year’s monthly luncheon, the Chapter has decided to center their presentations around a topic that personally affects insurance professionals and the industry: security.
The guest speaker for January’s luncheon was Gregg Stinemates, IT Architect and Leadership Development Associate for State Farm Insurance in Tempe, AZ. During his presentation, Stinemates shared how insurance professionals can protect themselves and their policy members from identity theft. Many make the mistake of using the same password for multiple accounts, which makes it easier for hackers to get ahold of account information. Stinemates recommended to take two pairs of words and then flip them to form a password. For example, one pair can be “orange slices” and a second pair “rubix cube”, to form a password “slices cube”. Creating complex passwords is one easy way to control your personal security.
It cannot be stressed enough how fortunate the Gamma Iota Sigma Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) is to have such tremendous support from the local CPCU Chapter. Through the generous scholarships that CPCU provides, students are pushed closer toward their academic and career goals.
December 1, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic
On November 17, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU members attended the Casualty Actuaries of Desert States (CADS) fall meeting. CADS is a professional actuarial club comprised of property and casualty (P&C) actuaries in the desert states of Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. The club meets twice a year for members to network, broaden their knowledge, and stay up to date with the industry. This year’s fall meeting was hosted at the University Club of Arizona State University.
Steven Armstrong, CAS vice president of admissions, kicked off the meeting by sharing an update from the CAS board. He noted that the CAS will be transitioning their exams to a computer-based environment, Technology-Based Examination (TBE). Beginning in spring 2018 with Exam 5, candidates will take their exams using Microsoft Excel. TBE will allow candidates to take remotely proctored exams on their own computers at a location most convenient (home, office, etc.) during a designated time window. Through TBE, the CAS hopes to make their exams more relevant to real-life actuarial applications.
Justin Panther, senior manager for catastrophe modeling and analytics at Allstate Insurance Company, shared how catastrophe models are constructed. Panther also touched on emerging trends that could disrupt the catastrophe modeling industry. He defined “catastrophe” in the property insurance industry as a severe natural or man-made disaster with claims expected to reach at least $25 million. With an increase in the number of natural disasters occurring in 2017 as compared to prior years, Panther’s presentation on modeling catastrophes was extremely relevant. Climate change experts warn that rising sea levels will produce higher storm surges and more devastating floods in the future, which could further disrupt insurance companies’ catastrophe models.
A variety of breakthrough technologies are set to spur a fundamental transition in the insurance industry. Mark Farrell shared how wearable technology is affecting health insurers. Farrell is a senior lecturer and program director of actuarial science at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. In addition, Farrell is a 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholar at Arizona State University. Through advancements in technology, there is increasing access to self-quantified behavior and biometric information about one’s personal health. For example, new biometric sensors and smartwatches can measure heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen, and glucose levels, while providing real-time data. This information has tremendous implications on health insurers with its ability to provide new ways to measure, control, and price risk. Wearable technology also gives insurers an opportunity to better engage with customers.
As a student, demonstrating professionalism can benefit your reputation, moral, and success. The same is true for professionals with many years of experience in the workplace. Continuing professional development is important because it ensures that you continue to be competent in your profession. Ester Becker found the perfect way to end the meeting: professionalism skits! This interactive session covered several topics including reviews of the code of conduct and actuarial standards of practice. The skits gave the attendees a chance to discuss actuarial professionalism.
Overall, the CADS meeting was highly informative with a wide variety of interesting topics. In addition to exposure to various topics in the P&C insurance world, students were also able to network with industry professionals during the breaks.
December 1, 2017
By Hailey Walters
The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) is dedicated to preparing its members for success. The chapter also takes pride in establishing and maintaining its relationships with past GIS members. GIS @ ASU provides its students with opportunities to network with young professionals in the valley through student-alumni events. These events are incredibly beneficial to both parties, allowing them to share their experiences with one another.
On November 14, four GIS alumni conducted an underwriting case study. This case study was designed to show the process through which underwriters determine whether or not they will insure a risk using real-world examples. The alumni used their work experience in underwriting and pricing wholesale insurance policies to create three real-world scenarios for the students to underwrite in the case study.
For the case study, students were broken up into six groups and each given an insurance application from a risky business operation. In the real-world, underwriters are not always given complete information about a risk. Therefore, the application forms given to students weren’t fully completed, requiring students to determine if they had all of the necessary information to insure the risk. The three business applications were from a marijuana delivery service, a strip club, and an at-home daycare. First, the students identified all of the exposures that their business could face. Due to the uniqueness of these risks, students had to collaborate to come up with relevant exposures. After each group came up with a list of exposures, they were given additional information to help them determine whether or not they would insure the business. Then, they decided between one of three scenarios regarding insuring the business. Each group could choose to insure, not insure, or potentially insure, contingent upon the release of more information and the following of several conditions outlined in the policy. Upon their decision, each group had two representatives share their results with everybody from the meeting.
This case study gave students an idea of the thought process of an underwriter and the potential problems they face every day. In addition, this case study allowed the students to create and build relationships with the GIS alumni. GIS @ ASU thanks alumni Zach, Traci, Steven, and Jeff for being active in their insurance community and putting together this case study. The club is very excited to participate in future case studies.
November 20, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic
Every year, ASU continues a time-honored tradition: the university hosts a week of festivities to celebrate homecoming. One of the highlights of this week is the homecoming block party, an event that garners much attention from the ASU community. On October 28, members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter, along with other school clubs, volunteered their time to represent the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at the homecoming block party. The event brought together students, families, and alumni, which made it the perfect time for club members to connect with the larger ASU community.
Gamma Iota Sigma members were able to help in two ways: they helped pass out “math-on-a-stick” lollipops that taught fun math facts, and a GIS club member played the role of “math swami," correctly guessing which number visitors were thinking of by "reading their minds." These gestures may seem small, but they served as great opportunities for ASU’s current students to interact with alumni and other community members. The actuarial science program at ASU has benefited from tremendous community support in the past, and students enjoyed the chance to give back. Gamma Iota Sigma’s Kappa Chapter at ASU looks forward to participating in many more events like this in the future!
November 16, 2017
By Hailey Walters
A career in actuarial science is not just contingent on successful passage of exams; becoming a part of a supportive professional organization is just as crucial. For actuaries in the property and casualty (P&C) industry, this organization is the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), founded in 1914 to support actuaries and actuarial students in education, credentialing, and research. The CAS has only grown since its establishment, and today serves over 8,000 members all over the world.
Every year, the CAS hosts an annual meeting and provides its members with unlimited opportunities for learning, networking, and professional growth. This year’s meeting was held November 6-8 in Anaheim, California, and students from the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) were invited to attend the Student Program. Faculty members Dr. Jelena Milovanovic and Dr. John Zicarelli accompanied the students, participating in various networking events and educational sessions over the three days.
The CAS Student Program is unique in that it is designed for college students interested in becoming a P&C actuary. Students began the day with an introduction to the P&C insurance industry and the actuarial profession, where they learned about both the traditional and unconventional roles played by actuaries of all kinds. Over the course of a day, the students also had the chance to meet and network with various mentors, credentialed actuaries who volunteered to tell of their experience. A well-organized “speed networking” session gave students the chance to interact with many different professionals working in a variety of fields, from insurance to consulting. Hearing the different perspectives was invaluable, as it highlighted the various career paths that are available.
Three GIS @ ASU students also had the privilege of presenting during the morning session of the student program. Brendan Sturm, Robert (Bo) Swoverland, and Zhihan (Jennifer) Zhang began their presentation by playing an insurance simulation involving marshmallow-and-spaghetti structures, which they put through hazards like an earthquake and a hurricane. This was designed to simulate a rate indication—the students were split into teams, and each team’s building symbolized one year of experience for a hypothetical company. Based on the value of the structures (i.e. the number of spaghetti sticks and marshmallows used) and the property damage, the presenters calculated the rate change that would be appropriate for the company.
Although the simulation used manually-selected dummy data, the process of working through a rate indication is one that all three presenters went through at various internships. This served as the foundation for the latter half of the session, which was designed to be a Q&A panel. Brendan, Bo, and Jennifer shared their experiences in health, life, and P&C internships with the students, answering everything from “How do you find an internship” to “What was the most interesting project you worked on.” The interactive setting gave the attending students a chance to ask questions to other students directly, which helped to engage and excite the crowd.
The Student Program was an incredible experience for all of the students who had the pleasure of attending. The students had access to exclusive facetime with the industry’s actuaries and got to ask an abundance of questions in a supportive environment. GIS @ ASU’s members enjoyed the entire experience and is eagerly awaiting next year’s meeting!
October 30, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic
On October 18, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) members attended the Arizona Actuarial Club’s fall meeting. The Arizona Actuarial Club is a professional organization whose members come from various local insurance and consulting companies. The club is a valuable resource that helps grow the actuarial profession by offering local continuing education and networking opportunities. For this year’s fall meeting, professor Paul McNicholas from McMaster University in Canada visited Arizona to educate local industry professionals on cluster-weighted models and machine learning for insurance data.
As a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Computational Statistics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at McMaster University, McNicholas is involved in conducting research that focuses on computational statistics. Although Dr. McNicholas’ research focuses on the statistics behind clustering and classification, including cluster-weighted models, and not insurance specifically, his findings can be applied to various insurance concepts.
McNicholas started off his presentation by first explaining the definition of a cluster in his own words: “a cluster is a unimodal component within an appropriate finite mixture model,” where an appropriate mixture model is one with components that have the necessary parameterization to fit the data. For example, if the data contains skewed clusters, then the mixture model should have components that parameterize skewness. These models also can be used to deal with missing or censored information, which is a problem often faced by actuaries working with insufficient or incomplete data.
The potential of cluster weighted models for insurance data was illustrated using various data sets, showing a practical application of the theoretical ideas. This research was carried out with Dr. Petar Jevtic and graduate students from McMaster university. Dr. Jevtic recently joined ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences as an assistant professor specializing in both actuarial science and mathematical finance.
October 25, 2017
By Hailey Walters
Every year, the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) hosts the Week of Giving, an eight-day volunteering initiative that encourages the insurance industry to give back to their communities. On Saturday, October 21st, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) participated in the IICF’s Week of Giving by volunteering at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix for the third year in a row.
This year, 15 students from the club went to one of St. Mary’s distribution centers to help pack emergency food boxes for those in need. St. Mary’s Food Bank donates 40,000 of these emergency food boxes every month to various individuals or families who need the extra support. The students had the opportunity to interact with other local volunteers and work quickly and efficiently to get their tasks done. After passing through the assembly line, the emergency food boxes were organized onto palettes and sent to distribution centers around the valley.
Each member who participated agrees that helping those less fortunate is an incredibly rewarding experience. GIS @ ASU enjoys giving back to the community and is proud to have made a difference in many different lives in Phoenix, and the club is excited to continue contributing to local volunteering efforts.
October 23, 2017
By Hailey Walters
On Tuesday, October 17th, for the second year in a row, Nationwide E&S/Specialty hosted one of Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU’s (GIS @ ASU) club meetings. The representatives from the company prepared a fun night of insurance-related activities and games. The event was a great chance for students to take a break from studying for exams, and the event was well-attended by actuarial science and risk management students alike.
The night began with a brief networking period, giving students the opportunity to socialize with both Nationwide’s representatives and other students in the programs. Nationwide currently has internships available for the spring and summer of 2018, so this networking session provided the representatives with the opportunity to meet and interact with potential interns. Shortly after networking, the students were split into groups of four and sent into one of three classrooms, each corresponding to a different game that Nationwide created.
About half of the teams began by playing “Towers of Insurance,” which simulated the pricing process. At the beginning, each group’s objective was to create the tallest and strongest structure they could using various objects: graham crackers, uncooked spaghetti, marshmallows, and paperclips. Once finished, each structure was priced based on the materials used and then inspected closely by other groups. Upon inspection, each group then acted as an insurance company and determined what they would charge to insure each structure. The lowest price for each structure was the policy purchased, and some groups ended up insuring more structures than others. The structures were then subjected to a series of perils: earthquake, hail, flood, and wind. Once the disasters were over, the insurance companies had to pay for the losses. The group with the highest net income in the end won the game!
Every group also played Nationwide’s version of “Pictionary” and “Insurance Against Humanity.” In Pictionary, the students took turns drawing items from a list of things most likely to be insured by an excess and surplus lines insurance company, and the members of their team had to guess each item being drawn. This activity introduced students to the myriad of programs offered by companies like Nationwide. Insurance Against Humanity was an enjoyable fill-in-the-blank card game in which the students chose from an assortment of terms to fill the blank of an insurance or Nationwide-related sentence. Each round’s winner was chosen by a different player who judged based on humor, wit, or logic.
Once all of the games had been played, scores were added up to determine which team had the highest score overall. The winning team consisted of Kinsey Turk, Katie Fricker, Robert (Bo) Swoverland, and Ainsley Ramsay (not pictured).
GIS @ ASU had an amazing time with Nationwide and the students enjoyed getting to know the representatives and other members throughout these games. The club is eagerly awaiting the next Nationwide visit!
October 4, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic
On September 28-30, 2017, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) traveled to Dallas, Texas for Gamma Iota Sigma’s 46th Annual International Conference. The chapter sent officers Garrett Deimund, Maja Stefanovic, Brendan Sturm, Bo Swoverland, Hailey Walters, and Jennifer Zhang as well as Dr. Jelena Milovanovic and Dr. John Zicarelli to the event, which featured educational seminars taught by industry professionals from across the country. The GIS International Conference is the premier event for students interested in the insurance industry, and the opportunity gave students the chance to develop professionally, expand their knowledge, and continue to build strong relationships with the industry.
The conference opened with several educational sessions, professional development trainings, and inclusion seminars featuring industry professionals in all areas of insurance, as well as a career fair attended by over 60 companies. Students were able to choose between sessions from data visualization to basic risk management to interview skills to reinsurance, making it possible for each student to have a diverse but well-rounded experience. Although the conference was mostly directed toward students, faculty also had the chance to attend several round-table discussions, sharing ideas with one another to further improve their own programs and chapters.
The sessions were interspersed with visits to the career fair, various networking opportunities, and speeches from keynote speakers that provided helpful and inspirational advice to the attendees. One evening also featured an awards ceremony, in which GIS @ ASU was presented with its first ever chapter award. This award honored the Kappa chapter’s commitment to community service and building alumni relations, thus recognizing the hard work and effort put in by last year’s officers, faculty, student members, and GIS alumni. Being recognized for the work in front of 69 chapters from across the country was extraordinary, and the chapter will continue to work hard to excel during this school year as well.
Finally, after all the sessions were over, students were still able to mingle with GIS members from different schools and chapters at a reception hosted in the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium. Select individuals had the opportunity to tour the NFL stadium, viewing the different amenities as well as behind-the-scenes areas and the field itself. The event was a great way to close the weekend, as it allowed students to relax and continue to build relationships between chapters.
Overall, the GIS International Conference was a great opportunity for ASU students to meet their fellow risk management and actuarial science majors from across the country as well as representatives from various out-of-state companies. GIS @ ASU will definitely use this experience to continue to grow as a chapter and as a program, and the officers look forward to attending this conference in the future.
October 2, 2017
By Hailey Walters
The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS at ASU) takes pride in the professional preparation and development of its students. The chapter is committed to ensuring that our students stand out among candidates for internships and full time positions, and, as a result, hosts a number of professional development opportunities for our students. On Tuesday, September 26th, GIS at ASU hosted its third annual mock interview night on campus to prepare students for a crucial step in the job application process: the interview.
The chapter invited 24 industry professionals from all over the valley to participate in this year’s event. After a brief networking period with refreshments sponsored by ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, each of the professionals was paired with two students (out of the 31 who attended) for a 30-minute mock interview and a 10-minute feedback session. Although interview questions were provided, many groups found it helpful to deviate from the guidelines to ask general questions that could pop up in future situations. We were fortunate to welcome professionals from the following 10 diverse companies in the valley:
Mock interviews are a great way to better familiarize students with the interview experience, as well as introduce the industry professionals to potential hires. Students and industry participants alike have enjoyed the event in the past, and this year was no different—our chapter was able to showcase its newest and brightest talent to the industry.
These mock interviews are invaluable in helping GIS students get one step closer to landing their dream job and assisting industry members in identifying key students to recruit. We appreciate the industry’s incredible support and dedication to helping these promising students succeed, and we’re excited to continue this event in the future!
Lamont Boyd of FICO, left, and Melissa Tomita of Nationwide E&S/Specialty
September 29, 2017
By Brendan Sturm and Bo Swoverland
Every month, the Arizona chapter of the CPCU Society hosts a luncheon, which serves as an opportunity for members to mingle with one another as well as learn from a keynote speaker. Arizona State University’s Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa (GIS @ ASU) students interested in the insurance world are invited to attend, as the meetings afford an opportunity to network with industry members. Brendan Sturm and Bo Swoverland as well as Dr. Jelena Milovanovic represented GIS at ASU at this month’s meeting.
The September luncheon featured Tiffaney Isaacson, the program coordinator of the water safety program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, who spoke about the dangers of early children drownings. Although Arizona is primarily a desert state, it ranks 49th out of 50 states for childhood deaths by drowning, making childhood drownings a crucial issue tackled by the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
The hospital has championed various initiatives designed to educate parents on potential prevention methods. The initiative stresses using a positive message to encourage rather than condemn, offering solutions like “supervision shifts” that parents can easily implement. The program also promotes the use of life jackets and other supports that can ensure the safety of a child.
The luncheon concluded with the CPCU chapter’s donation of $1,500 to the GIS @ ASU chapter. The CPCU has been a strong supporter of GIS @ ASU since its reactivation, contributing to a successful program. The GIS @ ASU chapter thanks them for this generous donation, and looks forward to continuing to build a strong relationship with the CPCU in the future.
(L to R) Brad Magick (Arizona CPCU Society Treasurer), Jelena Milovanovic, Brendan Sturm, and Bo Swoverland
September 21, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic and Zhihan Jennifer Zhang
On September 12, 2017, Mercer came to the GIS Kappa chapter at ASU, bringing not only information about the opportunities available at the company but also a fun activity for students – THE MERCER RACE!
Eight Mercer representatives kicked off the event by introducing the company and announcing the opening of several internship and full-time positions in Phoenix to approximately 40 GIS @ ASU chapter members. Amongst the Mercer representatives were several former ASU graduates, including Chris Dunker and Shea Ingram. Dunker’s internship at Mercer turned into a career half a decade ago, and for the last couple of years he has been coordinating the internship program at Mercer. Ingram is one of the former graduates of ASU’s actuarial science program, and his support for the program (as shown by his attendance at our events) is invaluable.
The Mercer representations opened the meeting by briefly introducing the company to our students. Although Mercer overall encompasses several lines of business, including health, wealth , and career strategy, the Phoenix office specifically operates within the government human services consulting sector, which works primarily on Medicaid programs. Mercer is also the world’s largest human resources consulting firm with more than 20,500 employees and operations in 130 countries around the world, making Mercer attractive to a wide variety of ASU students.
After the brief introduction of the company, The Mercer Race was on! Students were split into six different teams to compete in three challenges: mini-golf course, a selfie-stick exercise, and a Jenga. These challenges not only helped students get to know each other better, but also gave the company a chance to observe potential candidates in team-building settings. The event ended with dinner and networking at Postino’s, giving students an opportunity to network with Mercer employees.
ASU’s actuarial science program is fortunate to have Mercer’s support, as they are one of the biggest health consulting companies in the valley. After a successful Mercer’s campus visit, it is now up to the ASU students to impress Mercer recruiters at the first round interviews on campus on October 13. We hope that many our students will be accepted for Mercer’s summer 2018 internship positions, and we look forward to building our relationship with the company in the future.
September 11, 2017
By Zhihan Jennifer Zhang
To kick off the new school year, Gamma Iota Sigma’s Kappa chapter at ASU invited Allstate to host its first meeting on Tuesday, August 29. Almost 70 students attended, setting the record for the biggest GIS @ ASU meeting and reflecting the value of ASU’s burgeoning actuarial science program. This first meeting gave new members the opportunity to meet not only the officers of the club but also alumni and representatives from Allstate, the largest publicly-held property and casualty insurer in the US.
The evening’s activities were organized by Allstate’s Actuarial Talent Director Lynn Gehant and Senior Actuarial Assistant Katie Urso. After giving students an overview of Allstate’s actuarial program, Gehant and Urso set up a simulation to teach students basic insurance concepts like loss exposure, premiums, claims, deductibles, adverse selection, and underwriting techniques.
About a third of the students were sorted into four different “insurance companies” with the rest of the students acting as “consumers” who could buy policies from any company. These consumers “modeled” the probability of an auto accident by throwing tennis balls into a trash can, where a miss indicated a loss. The insurance companies observed this process and tried to set premiums to maximize their profit, paying back their insureds for any losses experienced. This simulation taught actuarial concepts in a very practical setting, and new members especially learned a lot from the experience.
ASU students were not the only ones participating in the event; GIS alumni Jeff Durham, Stephen Evilsizor, and Steven Locke also came to add their insight and mentor new students. Giving students the opportunity the engage with alumni is extremely important because alumni members can relate most closely with current students. Their advice and mentoring is invaluable, and the chapter is thankful that these former students were willing to take the time to meet the program’s newest freshmen class.
Of course, networking with Allstate’s representatives was highlight of the evening. Allstate is not only currently looking for its next cohort of summer interns but also hiring for their new location in Mesa, AZ. This experience gave prospective applicants a chance to ask questions about their program and simultaneously showcased ASU’s talented students to the company. GIS@ASU is very excited for Allstate’s expansion to Arizona, and we look forward to further building our relationship with the company!
September 8, 2017
By Hailey Walters and Maja Stefanovic
Every year, the GIS Grand Chapter hosts the Gamma Iota Sigma Leadership Symposium to kick off the school year, gathering presidents from every chapter to discuss leadership and organization strategies. Zhihan Jennifer Zhang represented the Kappa chapter at the this year’s event held August 25-27 in Columbus, Ohio.
The symposium serves as an opportunity for officers of each chapter to share their ideas and develop leadership skills in a peer-to-peer setting. Because each chapter is so different, officers have the opportunity to learn from each other and discuss potential ideas to better their own communities. The goal is to relate ideas and techniques that could be applied to every chapter, whether large or small, new or well-established.
For example, one of the vital components of GIS leadership is recruiting and managing new members. Students at the symposium brainstormed new ways to promote GIS and attract new members to events. Not only did they come up with ways to entice potential members, they also planned ways to retain the attention of their current members by making the regular meetings interesting and exciting.
Another important topic discussed was how each chapter can engage the community around them. As officers, these students are often the face of GIS that their local community sees. It is important that the club communicates with alumni and the insurance industry.
The leadership symposium is a wonderful opportunity for young leaders to socialize and network with each other, all while putting their heads together to come up with ways to flourish their own chapters and communities. We hope that Jennifer can share her insight and introduce new ideas for our campus chapter as well!
August 25, 2017
By Hailey Walters
The Curtis E. Huntington Memorial Scholarship was founded in honor of Curtis E. Huntington, FSA, MAAA, FCA, MSPA, the former head of University of Michigan’s Actuarial Department. Huntington spent over 30 years diligently ensuring that his students got the financial aid that they deserved. This scholarship was designed to honor his dedication to his students as well as his commitment to the actuarial profession. The intention of this scholarship is to award undergraduate actuarial science students the financial aid needed to help them succeed.
Every year, each university can nominate one student for the Curtis E. Huntington Memorial Scholarship. Like all other prestigious and competitive scholarships, being considered a nominee is no easy feat. The candidate must demonstrate involvement in extracurricular activities and also establish their potential by completing actuarial exams. This year, ASU actuarial science student Zhihan Jennifer Zhang was awarded the Curtis E. Huntington scholarship due to her outstanding performance both inside and outside of school.
GIS @ ASU is proud to have a member receive such a generous scholarship from the Actuarial Foundation. We are also proud of Jennifer for all of her accomplishments this year. In addition to being awarded the Curtis E. Huntington scholarship, she has been awarded both the Arizona CPCU Scholarship and the Nationwide E&S/Specialty Actuarial Scholarship, and she also won the AAMGA White Paper Competition. Keep up the good work, Jennifer!
August 23, 2017
By Hailey Walters
The American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) is a trade association for insurance professionals that deal in wholesale and excess and surplus lines. The organization is devoted to helping its members improve and succeed in the insurance industry, offering educational conferences to further the knowledge and expertise of its members.
The AAMGA hosts a University West Conference every year to teach classes to industry professionals as well as university students. This year’s conference took place from August 16 to 18, 2017, in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference was packed full of learning and networking opportunities, and members of GIS @ ASU had the pleasure of attending.
On Wednesday night, GIS @ ASU members attended the welcome reception and were able to socialize with other guests from numerous different companies and schools. This opportunity allowed students to learn about working in the field of property and casualty insurance by directly interacting with industry members.
Over the next two days, conference attendees visited a number of sessions taught by knowledgeable and experienced insurance professionals. On Friday morning, the students attended a session dedicated to property underwriting, and another session in the afternoon about insurance business income. Both sessions were taught by Kathy Suhm, the vice president of underwriting training and development at Nautilus Insurance Group.
The AAMGA University Conference provides valuable learning experiences that help prepare the students for future internship or full-time jobs. The past University West conferences that GIS @ ASU attended had been very enjoyable and enlightening, and this one was no different. The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU looks forward to attending next year’s event!
August 18, 2017
By Zhihan Jennifer Zhang
Although Arizona State University’s (ASU) actuarial science program places great emphasis on teaching students how to become successful actuaries in a corporate setting, the program does not hesitate to promote individual research projects. Recently, the school sent two undergraduate students to the 52nd annual Actuarial Research Conference (ARC) in Atlanta, Georgia to present their Barrett thesis projects. The conference was a great opportunity for students to network with professionals from both the industry and academia as well as practice presenting research findings in front of an audience.
On the first day of the conference, Zhihan Jennifer Zhang, a senior in the actuarial science program, presented her research on loss reserving. The project was designed to be a real-world implementation of a 1999 article. Though the thesis project is still in-progress, the audience got a preview of preliminary result as well as some ideas for how the research could be applied in their own companies.
Julie Tang, a recent graduate from ASU, also presented her honors thesis project on continuing care retirement communities. The audience was impressed by the scope of the project, and, as the topic is less well-known, they were exposed to an interesting application of actuarial research.
ASU actuarial science coordinator Jelena Milovanovic presented in a session as well, working in conjunction with the Casualty Actuary Society to introduce ways in which degree programs can incorporate case studies into their curriculum. The presentation gave the professors in attendance a chance to discuss and coordinate potential future projects.
The students and professors also had the chance to attend various sessions. Several cutting-edge researchers presented their findings, and the conference attendees had the opportunity to follow up with these presenters.
The conference was a good learning experience for everyone who attended. ASU’s actuarial science program looks forward to sending more students to present their findings at the conference in the future.
June 5, 2017
By Zhihan Jennifer Zhang
Professional organizations often dedicate much time and effort to promoting education in their respective fields; the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) is no different. Every year, the AAMGA engages college students by sponsoring a white paper contest, encouraging actuarial and risk management students to research and write about a pressing current issue in wholesale property and casualty insurance. Students compete to win a $1000 scholarship, publication in the organization’s seasonal magazine, and a trip for them and their professors to AAMGA’s annual meeting in May.
This year, GIS @ ASU member Zhihan Jennifer Zhang’s paper titled “Climate Change: An Insurance Perspective” was voted as one of the three winners of the competition. Accordingly, she and Dr. John Zicarelli attended AAMGA’s 91st Annual Meeting held in Orlando from May 21 – 25. The conference was a great opportunity for students to interact with the professional world of excess and surplus insurance, especially because of the unique schedule planned for the students.
Specifically, the white paper winners were assigned mentors that they then shadowed over the course of the conference. Jennifer and Dr. Zicarelli had a chance to meet and follow Kathy Schroeder (Senior Vice President of AAMGA) and her husband Mark, Ken Distel (who manages of the branches of Risk Placement Services, Inc.), Chip Pecchio (who works for the RSUI Group), and Michael Brown (of Golden Bear Insurance) as they attended various business meetings and networking events.
These meetings gave the students a glimpse into the workings of the industry from both a MGA’s and an insurance company’s side, and were thus an invaluable experience. GIS @ ASU’s chapter hopes that future students continue to participate in the contest, competing for the chance to not only win money but also build relationships with AAMGA’s industry professionals.
(View a photo of Zhang's article published in the Summer 2017 issue of AAMGA magazine.)
May 3, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic and Hailey Walters
On Friday, April 28th, ASU’s Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa (GIS @ ASU) members had the opportunity to network with members of the Scottsdale Gamma Alumni Chapter. Local insurance companies Nautilus Insurance Group and the Markel Corporation generously sponsored the happy hour event at the O.H.S.O. Brewery in Paradise Valley.
With just one weekend to go before spring semester finals, ASU students enjoyed the chance to relax and socialize in an upbeat environment with both their peers (and furry friends) and the GIS alumni at the event. The event also served as one last hurrah for the current graduating officers, and they used their time to strengthen their connections with professionals from the industry as well as their relationships with next year’s officers and officer-elects.
The happy hour was a great way to end a successful semester and school year, and ASU’s GIS chapter looks forward to attending more events with the Scottsdale Alumni Chapter in the future.
On April 27, 2017, ASU’s Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter hosted its second annual CAS Case Study competition. This unique event gave participants a chance to apply their academic knowledge to an everyday situation faced by reserving actuaries. The Casualty Actuary Society (CAS) partnered with ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences to provide actuarial science students with the exciting opportunity to compete to win $2500.
Four teams of actuarial students were presented with data from the reserving department of a fictional workers’ compensation insurance company, and were instructed to provide recommendations in the form of a presentation to the firm’s executives. Specifically, the executives wanted each team to estimate the company’s total liabilities using standard reserving methods. The process was designed to introduce students to the tasks performed by reserving actuaries.
The teams’ results were showcased in a 20 minute presentation, thus testing not only the students’ analytical skills but also their public speaking ability. A panel of six judges from local property and casualty companies in the valley evaluated each group’s performance; Becky Hoffmann and Nicole Perilstein (from Nationwide), Brent Carr and Jeff Durham (from Nautilus), Amanda Lubking (from GPWA), and James Ely (an independent consultant). These judges also provided feedback to the students, thus further honing their ability to perform in the workplace.
The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter is proud to say that every team put a great deal of effort into their analysis and performance. Ultimately, the judges selected team “Victorious Secret” as the top performers—students (pictured above L-R) Kelsi Knoles, Zhihan Jennifer Zhang, Bo Swoverland, Brendan Sturm, and Julie Tang were declared the winners of the second annual CAS case study competition.
May 1, 2017
By Brendan Sturm
As the year ends, Gamma Iota Sigma held elections to fill the positions of the graduating officers. Zhihan (Jennifer) Zhang, Robert (Bo) Swoverland, and Brendan Sturm were elected President, Vice-President, and Treasurer respectively. They are joined by officer-elects Maja Stefanovic, Garrett Deimund, Alex Rabine, Ricky Pham, and Hailey Walters, who will assist the officers in the 2017-2018 school year.
To celebrate this transition, the current and incoming officers attended “Passing the Pitchfork,” a dinner event hosted by ASU Tempe student organizations. The event featured a catered dinner for the attending student organizations, followed by inspiring presentations to celebrate achievements of the past year.
It was a great way to end the year, as well as for current officers Grace Kennedy, Steven Locke, Drew Gordon, Julie Tang, Jacob Langerman, and Kelsi Knoles to celebrate the end of their tenure. We thank these officers for their hard work in reactivating and running the Kappa chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, and we wish them the best in their future careers.
Back row (L-R) Kelsi Knoles, Brendan Sturm, Jacob Langerman, Zhihan Jennifer Zhang, Drew Gordon
Front row (L-R) Steven Locke, Grace Kennedy, Julie Tang, Bo Swoverland
May 1, 2017
By Brendan Sturm
On April 27, GIS members Steven Locke and Brendan Sturm volunteered at the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) annual golf fundraiser at the beautiful Ocotillo Golf Club in Chandler. Insurance professionals from across the valley attended the event, including notable representatives from Nautilus, Nationwide, and State Farm. The event was an excellent opportunity to the students to meet various non-actuary insurance professionals.
Steven and Brendan worked the “Vegas hole,” where golfers could place bets on whether the players could place the ball within a painted 10-foot radius of the pin on a 163-yard par 3 hole. The money made from the bets benefitted the CPCU scholarship fund. For the students who will receive the scholarship, it was a successful day—the fundraiser brought hundreds of dollars to the fund. Former CPCU scholarship awardees have included graduating GIS co-president Steven Locke, and we hope that many more ASU students can benefit from the fund.
When the golfing was over, all of the golfers and volunteers continued to mingle over a catered lunch. Members had a great time socializing after a long morning of golf. During lunch, raffle winners were announced, the closest to the pin winner was given his prize, and the putting contest finals were completed. The event was a great success for everyone involved, and ASU’s GIS chapter is proud to have been able to assist the CPCU in ensuring that the event ran smoothly.
April 25, 2017
By Garrett Deimund and Hailey Walters
On April 18th, the Arizona chapter of the CPCU Society invited GIS members Garret Deimund and Hailey Walters to their monthly luncheon for a presentation on current events in the world of insurance. At the luncheon, Garrett and Hailey had the opportunity to meet the current and previous presidents of the Arizona CPCU Chapter, as well as numerous professionals from the industry.
The guest speaker for this month’s luncheon was Lanny Hair, Executive Vice President of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Arizona (IIABAZ). Hair has been working in the insurance industry for 48 years, starting off as a property appraiser for State Farm Insurance, and eventually transitioning to his current position at the IIABAZ. Because of his wealth of experience gained from playing diverse roles as part of various organizations and committees, Hair was inducted into IIABAZ’s Arizona Insurance Hall of Fame in 2013.
As the Executive Vice President of the IIABAZ, Hair is responsible for keeping track of the legislative affairs for the insurance industry as well as advising various state legislators on the implications of insurance-related bills. As a result, he was able to share an abundance of knowledge and insight on his presentation topic: the relationship between legislation and insurance in Arizona.
Hair began his presentation by discussing the importance of educating legislators about the insurance world, especially in Arizona where insurance is such a prominent industry. This can be difficult, however, because many legislators are uninterested in the topic. As a result, many legislative decisions are based not on concrete facts but on individual legislators’ past experiences, leading to the passage and rejection of bills that negatively affect the industry.
Not everyone may be as influential as Hair, but everyone—whether professionals or students—should keep up-to-date with insurance-related legislation. Not only does this keep the industry on top of changes that could be made, but it also ensures that we have the potential to create and drive this change in the future.
April 24, 2017
By Julie Tang
No one ever said the path of an actuary would be easy. The technical and mathematical knowledge required to succeed in the field can be a stress that actuarial students carry throughout their journey to accreditation. Despite the school year drawing to a close, the members of GIS@ASU know that their education does not end in a classroom, or even at the office. In the midst of their studying that will continue for many years ahead, students should remember that the real reward is not an actuarial salary, but the friends they will make along the way.
To celebrate another year of friendship and the shared struggle of passing exams, GIS@ASU hosted an end-of-year social on 14 April, 2017. Dr. Al Boggess and Dr. May Boggess graciously hosted the event at their beautiful home located just across the street from ASU. Students enjoyed piano entertainment from both a professional piano player as well as actuarial science program’s very own Dr. John Zicarelli with appetizers, tacos, crepes with ice cream, and refreshments.
Despite the merry atmosphere, the gathering was not just fun and games. This annual event also signaled the anxiously anticipated announcement of GIS@ASU’s new officers and officer-elects for the coming academic year.
President – Zhihan (Jennifer) Zhang
Vice-President – Robert (Bo) Swoverland
Treasurer – Brendan Sturm
Officer-elects – Garrett Deimund, Alex Rabine, Ricky Pham, Maja Stefanovic, and Hailey Walters
All the current GIS@ASU officers will graduate in a few weeks, but they will leave knowing the club is in good hands. The show must go on, and GIS@ASU congratulates the new officers and officer-elects who will be leading the organization next year. We all look forward to seeing what the new leadership has in store, and are confident that GIS @ ASU has a bright future ahead of it.
April 5, 2017
By Bo Swoverland and Brendan Sturm
This spring Nautilus Insurance Group generously partnered with ASU’s actuarial science program to send five aspiring actuarial students to the Extreme Takers Symposium hosted by NAPSLO (National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices, Ltd.). The two-day student-oriented conference was held in Chicago from March 31 – April 1, 2017 and gave students a thorough introduction to the excess and surplus (E&S) side of insurance. Representing ASU at the conference were: Kelsi Knoles, Steven Locke (an actuarial analyst for Nautilus Ins.), Brendan Sturm (the future intern and Nautilus scholarship recipient), Bo Swoverland, and Jennifer Zhang (the current intern), and Dr. Jelena Milovanovic. Both days involved a mixture of presentations, and concluded with evening networking events.
The symposium opened with a career fair that gave students the opportunity to network with thirteen different companies that insure E&S lines from across the nation. Students were not only able to inquire about general insurance questions to learn more about the practice, but also able to learn about future internship and full-time opportunities.
“I really enjoyed talking to the companies at the career fair,” reported Bo Swoverland, a Barrett student whose thesis committee includes Jeff Durham, an actuarial analyst from Nautilus Ins. “Because many of them are based outside of Arizona, I hadn’t been exposed to them before, and I appreciated the chance to network with industry professionals.”
The career fair was followed by two days’ worth of sessions, with topics covering everything from an introduction to the E&S industry to risk management in the world of life sciences. Speakers included professionals like Chris Behymer and Dan Fuld of Markel, as well as Jim Bowen, the Director of Risk Management for US Foods.
“NAPSLO was a great opportunity to learn about the E&S side of the insurance world” said Brendan Sturm, the inaugural recipient of the Nautilus Insurance Endowed Scholarship and fall 2017 intern for the company. “It showed me that unique risks can be met with unique solutions and introduced me to many different issues in E&S insurance that I hadn’t thought about before.”
Sturm is referring to not only the sessions, which were attended by close to 200 students from schools across the country, but also the evening networking events that gave everyone the opportunity to meet students and faculty from other universities.
“ASU actuarial science program and the new risk management certificate is extremely fortunate to have Nautilus Ins. in their corner,” says Dr. Milovanovic. “We look forward to partnering with the company in the future to provide our students with valuable industry experiences like the NAPSLO symposiums.”
March 28, 2017
by Julie Tang
On March 21st, Gamma Iota Sigma members spent an evening dutifully attending the meeting of another club entirely: the Arizona Actuarial Club. The Arizona Actuarial Club is a professional network comprised of actuaries in the local insurance and consulting industry. Within three years, the actuarial science program’s presence has grown to fill almost half of these meetings with Gamma Iota Sigma members. Like last year, the spring meeting was hosted at The University Club Heritage Room at Arizona State University. However, this year, associate professor May Boggess of the actuarial science program prepared this meeting’s presentation on a controversial actuarial exam topic.
The world of actuarial science is anything but static; new methodologies and discoveries are constantly scrutinized in ongoing research. Because of this dedication to continuous innovation, a key requirement to remaining an accredited actuary is getting sufficient “Continuing Education” credits every year. To help our local professionals in meeting their academic quota, Arizona Actuarial Club meetings’ presentations are focused and informative, taking into full account the presumed actuarial expertise of the audience. Though this may seem redundant for students who are currently studying for exams, many accredited actuaries in the room used the presentation as part of their continued effort to stay up-to-date and informed.
For her presentation, Dr. Boggess proved a shortcut formula in the MLC curriculum to be false, and carefully explained her methodologies. After reading an article pointing out a flaw in a standard formula for calculating joint life annuities, Boggess set out and arduously proved that there was indeed a tangible effect of the error. Using real data and statistical models, her research shows that there was not only an impact on the veracity of real SOA exam questions, but also on empirical insurance applications. She presented her troubling results to the club, and was able to show the source of inconsistency that arises from the conditioning of distributions and provided two ways of addressing the textbook’s error. The professionals in attendance were all reminded to stay vigilant and always actively understand the mechanics in their vocational calculations, lest fundamental errors go by unnoticed or unchallenged.
March 20, 2017
By Julie Tang and Drew Gordon
One of the major benefits of membership in a professional fraternity like Gamma Iota Sigma is the opportunity to interact with industry professionals outside of the interview room. Typically, a college student’s chances to show their abilities with a business are limited to disjointed recounts of stories demonstrating adaptability or teamwork, and emails beginning with an apology for the late response. Representatives of a business coming to a club presents a welcome respite from this stressful dynamic. On our turf, companies have organized interesting, even fun, evenings for club members to enjoy. From company logo’d selfie-sticks to a team-building activity involving Pokemon GO, companies have put laudable efforts into creative and entertaining ways of networking and soliciting internships. In this light, on Tuesday, March 14th, UnitedHealthcare Group (UHC) came to Gamma Iota Sigma bringing with them a technical twist on the already esoteric game: Jeopardy!
The basic rules of the game were familiar: given an “answer,” respond with a correct question to get points, with questions of increased difficulty corresponding with higher point values. The questions themselves; however, ranged from general actuarial knowledge to specific features of United Health Group. While the game was a lighthearted event, GIS showcased their members’ familiarity with the government healthcare industry and abilities to work and share ideas as a team while under pressure. Stationed with each group was a representative from UHC to ensure fair play and present an opportunity for students to inquire more about the company. As an added bonus, paying homage to pi day, the winners of jeopardy were awarded first pick out of an assortment of pies. This engaging event hooked the ambitious students right by the competitive bent. Notably, two club members even accepted an offer for full-time entry level positions with UHC in the few days prior to this meeting. The next company to come to ASU has a tough act to follow.
February 27, 2017
By Drew Gordon and Julie Tang
In order to be successful and move forward in the insurance industry, there are two skills that are an absolute necessity: communication, and golf. Prior to receiving a diploma, most universities require completing some sort of communication class, but very few require a golf course. To address the gap in the university curriculum, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU organized its very first fundraising and networking event hosted at Top Golf in Scottsdale. On February 23rd, over 26 representatives attended this fundraiser from companies such as Nationwide, FICO, Mercer, Optumas, Risk Placement Services, and Nautilus Inc. Many other industry professionals were unable to attend, but pledged donations in support of the growing actuarial science program at ASU.
Club members networked freely with company representatives in a more relaxed environment than a typical networking event. Whether showing off, casually swinging, or taunting from the sidelines, students and professionals alike enjoyed casual conversations far removed from the stress of the classroom or the office. This pioneering event turned out to be a huge success, with almost 60 attendees filling up seven golf bays at the Top Golf facility. The money generously donated to Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU during this fundraiser will go far in helping club members attend professional conferences, pay membership dues, and continue organizing engaging events that help students strengthen their networking and professional skills. Gamma Iota Sigma thanks everyone who attended for making it an afternoon that could certainly be described as a hole-in-one!
February 27, 2017
By Ian Rycroft and Brendan Strum
On February 22nd, the Arizona Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) welcomed Chris Camacho, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, a group advocating for greater Phoenix’s competitive business growth. The Greater Phoenix Economic Council has been responsible for assisting 175 businesses relocate major operations to Phoenix since the 2012 fiscal year. Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU members Brendan Sturm and Ian Rycroft represented the organization at the event.
Camacho is a well-respected economic developer, who has been named to Consult Connects Top 50 US economic developers as well as the “40 under 40” by the Phoenix Business Journal. In addition, he was named Economic Developer of the Year for 2011 for the Association for economic development and recognized as the Chamber of Commerce Leader of the year in 2007.
(L-R) Ian Rycroft, Brendan Strum, Chris Camacho
At the luncheon, Camacho discussed greater Phoenix’s position as a business hub for the Southwest. He acknowledged Phoenix’s appeal to businesses as a tax and business friendly regulatory environment. However, to sustain its economic progression, the valley must continue to add value to a variety of sectors. Some of the factors he deemed most relevant to attracting future business are: availability of skilled labor, infrastructure, state and local incentives, and a low union profile. Camacho emphasized the importance of creating a strong middle class by reducing the growing income disparity. Arizona has been shown to have stagnant wages, thus making job growth a top priority moving forward. To accomplish this goal, he suggested the idea of structuring education on the future needs of businesses. Camacho cited quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curriculums as a major factor influencing where business conduct their operations, stressing that Phoenix needs to prioritize technical education. This academic concentration will help to rebrand Phoenix as a “connected place,” an essential attribute for economic development. According to Camacho, this shift will improve the perception of Arizona from simply a favorable regulatory environment into a booming location for business. Hopefully, Phoenix will seize the opportunity presented by Camacho to become an economic leader in the Southwest.
(L-R) Kim Ferrera, Ian Rycroft, Brendan Strum, and Angela Freedline, both with State Farm
February 15, 2017
By Drew Gordon and Julie Tang
Oftentimes, the hardest part of entering a new career is making connections. When beginning an actuarial career, even if a prospective intern has all the necessary technical skills, knowing someone in this increasingly competitive industry may be the difference between a call back and a disappointing automated email. To help ASU’s actuarial science students build these connections, the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences hosted its annual career day on February 9th, 2017. This Spring event has grown and improved every year since its inception in spring 2015. Furthermore, actuarial science has expanded into its own event, which boasted attendance of more than 40 local and regional representatives from two dozen insurance and consulting firms. Over 100 students attended, participating in networking sessions and engaging with professional panels. Additionally, every company that attended the event participated in half dozen one-on-one 12 minute scheduled interviews with students throughout the day.
This year’s actuarial science career day was the largest to date, with more internships and full-time positions offered than any previous year. For companies without any open positions currently, representatives enjoyed the exposure to the talents of the diverse actuarial science student population. The students that did not walk away with a job or an internship offer still gained invaluable face time and exposure with their potential future employers. Overall, attendees learned a bit about “what they don’t tell you in school” from the industry firsthand, while professionals got to know their future colleagues. The actuarial science career day was a huge success, so keep working on those resumes and we hope to see you back next spring!
Four generations of interns at Sagicor Life Insurance: (L - R) Shea Ingram, Hieu Tran, Julie Tang, and Jeremy Ryan
January 30, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic
On January 11, the Arizona Charted Property & Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) kicked off the year with their first guest speaker, Doreen Reinke, Vice President of Operations of E&S Specialty at Nationwide Insurance Company. GIS @ ASU members Alex Kirvan and Maja Stefanovic had an opportunity to represent the university at the society chapter’s first monthly luncheon.
At only 19, Reinke became the youngest licensed women claim adjuster in Arizona. Due to her success in the insurance industry, she was recognized by the Insurance Business America magazine as being one of the elite insurance woman in the country. In addition, Reinke is a Scottsdale Leadership Frank W. Hodges honoree for her involvement in the community.
At the luncheon, Reinke discussed the challenge of being a young woman entering a heavily male dominated industry. Initially, it proved to be very difficult for Reinke to be acknowledged. She quickly learned that in order to succeed, she would have to foster connections with the men in her industry. Reinke’s ability to build relationships with others became one of the primary reasons for her many accomplishments. She knew that for a company to thrive, it must be operated smoothly and efficiently, and an important part of this is a strong connection between all colleagues. Now Reinke’s motif that she runs her business by is to focus on the employees and a prosperous workplace. She emphasized that satisfied employees are more productive. The lessons Reinke shared at the luncheon are important for all aspiring actuaries and insurance professionals to consider.
November 22, 2016
By Jacob Langerman
The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) held its annual meeting November 13-16th in Orlando, FL. The conference gave property-casualty (P&C) insurance actuaries and consultants an opportunity to advance their knowledge of the industry and foster new relationships with their colleagues. The meeting featured a series of presentations and seminars administered by credentialed actuaries who were experts in the subject matter. For example, “Automated Vehicles: For Whom the Bell Tolls?” was presented by Jonathan Charack, a fellow of the CAS.
While the focus of the conference was practical industry education and contemplating the future of the profession, ample time was allotted for actuaries from across the world to socialize and mingle. This time provided an excellent opportunity to gain perspective from the diverse spectrum of attendees, ranging from actuaries employed in Bermuda, Switzerland, the United States, Canada, and many more countries.
Additionally, the CAS sponsored a student program, which club members Steven Locke, Drew Gordon, and Jacob Langerman participated in. This program gave students a chance to network with industry mentors and answer any curiosities about P&C actuarial profession.
Although any occasion for industry engagement is worthwhile for students, the main reason ASU students journeyed to Orlando for the CAS annual meeting was to present during the student program. The topic of their presentation was a CAS case study they worked on during the spring. The objective of the study was to investigate the effects of modern automobile safety features on insuring ASU drivers to determine if they would be a worthwhile investment for the university.
Students gave a fifteen-minute introduction on the case study, basic automobile insurance terminology, and an overview of some of the most cutting-edge safety innovations. Next, they broke the audience in groups and gave them 40 minutes to analyze the case study as it related to the driving environment at their university. At the end of this time, each group presented their considerations for their university and what approach they might take to tackle this complex problem. Finally, the students concluded the presentation with their analysis. They presented their research and data, discussed their methodology, and showed their detailed results. Overall, the CAS university engagement manager communicated that the ASU student presentation received “rave reviews” from both their fellow students and mentors in the audience.
November 19, 2016
By Bo Swoverland
On November 10, eighteen club members, including all of the officers, and faculty, Dr. Jelena Milovanovic and Dr. May Boggess, attended the Arizona State versus Utah Thursday night primetime football game. ASU opened up the game with a 13 – 0 lead over the 15th ranked Utah Utes. The Utes eventually came back to take a 21 – 20 lead by halftime, and unfortunately dominated the Sun Devils in the second half, ending in a final score of 49 – 26. The Sun Devils put forth a good effort in the first half and really engaged the crowd. The Utes, however, proved to be too much to handle, as they kept their Pac 12 South conference title hopes alive.
Although the GIS @ ASU members were located in the upper deck group seating and were surrounded by a mass of Utah Utes fans, they still had a great view of the game and cheered on Sun Devils with all their hearts. The game was a great opportunity for the members to escape the classroom and enjoy some college football as a group. Even though a fair amount of members are not normally football fans, they all enjoyed each other’s company and the fun, casual environment of the game.
November 10, 2016
By Jacob Langerman, Alex Kirvan, and Ian Rycroft
On October 22, prior to the homecoming game versus Washington State, members of the GIS @ ASU volunteered their time and represented the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SoMSS). GIS @ ASU participates every year in the ASU homecoming festivities in order to further its connection with ASU and this year was no different. Chapter members celebrated homecoming by welcoming back alumni and enjoying a thrilling football game at Sun Devil Stadium. Although the outcome of the game was not favorable for ASU, homecoming was a time to entertain, a time to celebrate ASU’s accomplishments, and for GIS @ ASU, a time to educate, inform, and inspire potential students to pursue a fulfilling career in actuarial science. While there is no debate that actuarial science can be an extremely rewarding endeavor, sometimes inspiring young minds to explore the complexities of mathematics can be easier said than done. The actuarial swami, Drew Gordon, entertained the crowds by ‘reading’ their minds while the other club members handed out hundreds of "math-on-a-stick" lollipop candy pieces.
Actuarial science is a new program at ASU, only in its third year, and currently has over 100 students enrolled. This coming spring, the program is expected to graduatealmost a dozen students, all whom already have full-time offers. Most of these students are expected to have successfully completed the first four preliminary actuarial exams administered by the Society of Actuaries. GIS @ ASU hopes to see these impressive statistics concerning the emerging program grow in the coming years, and homecoming serve as a perfect opportunity to promote its accomplishments thus far.
November 7, 2016
by Bo Swoverland
The NAPSLO (National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices, Ltd.) Excess and Surplus Lines Symposium hosted by Troy University was held in Atlanta, Georgia from October 27-28, 2016. The conference consisted of multiple presentations from various practitioners employed in lines of the excess and surplus insurance industry, a panel of recent risk management graduates, a networking event at a venue entitled “Main Event,” and a career fair to conclude the conference.
The presentations kicked off with a powerful message from Jill Jinks, CEO of Insurance House: E&S insurance providers start at ‘no’ and end at ‘yes.’ She further explained this concept, noting that E&S insurance companies insure risks that have been denied three times by the standard insurance market. These risks are usually denied either because of their uniqueness for which there is not enough data and background to form a viable coverage plan or simply because of a bad loss history. Some examples given were marijuana dispensaries and an island off South Carolina that is populated by over 4,000 monkeys that are used for medical testing. This is where the E&S insurance providers play their role and develop innovative types of coverages to satisfy the needs of the emerging markets. Since E&S insurance providers are exempt from the rules and regulations that the standard insurance providers are required to meet, businesses with unique needs and risks are still able to find their necessary coverage.
The panel of three recent risk management graduates first explained the routes they took to find employment in the E&S industry and then answered numerous questions from the eager students in the crowd. It was a great opportunity for students to not only learn the keys to landing a job in the industry, but also to learn how to thrive in the industry right out of college. The two main aspects the graduates mentioned were building relationships and perseverance. Whether it be attending happy hour with your co-workers or simply maintaining contact with clients, building relationships and making connections is essential to succeeding in the E&S insurance industry. As for perseverance, it is essential to understand that you are human and will make mistakes, but the key is to learn from these mistakes and move on. Although these seem like basic concepts, building relationships and having perseverance are crucial to excelling in the E&S insurance industry.
Apart from the knowledge gained, the students were able to converse with each other at Main Event the first night and network with professionals from the E&S industry at the career fair the next day. Over 100 different students from colleges all over the country were allotted three hours at Main Event to eat dinner, play arcade games, and bowl. Meanwhile, the career fair allowed students to meet and ask questions to various practitioners from over 20 companies across the nation. The NAPSLO Excess and Surplus Lines Symposium was extremely informative and beneficial to all the students, including Steven Locke and myself, as well as the faculty, Dr. Jelena Milovanovic.
October 15, 2016
by Zhihan Jennifer Zhang
Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) may be a professional organization for actuarial and risk management students, but its core tenets extend far beyond education; the club is just as dedicated to community service and charitable giving as it is to helping students advance in their careers. Throughout the school year, GIS chapters across the nation participate in a variety of local service efforts, and ASU's chapter is definitely no exception. The club is proud of its consistent dedication to one organization in particular: St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance as part of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) Week of Giving.
Since the reactivation of its GIS chapter, ASU has had students volunteer once a semester to help package food at a local food bank that distributes family meals to food insecure families across the valley. Arizona's hunger rates are higher than the national average (17.8% of Arizonans are food insecure, and the national average is 15.9%), and our students are proud to contribute to the organization's efforts. St. Mary's Food Bank services families and individuals in 10 counties by providing over 70 million pounds of food each year.
Part of the reason why St. Mary’s Food Bank can be so successful is because various organizations and individuals choose to volunteer their time and effort, and ASU’s Gamma Iota Sigma chapter is proud to be one such organization. On October 15, 16 students in the GIS @ ASU chapter collaborated with another ASU organization to package 960 boxes of food that were then sent to distribution sites around the city. The work may not have been easy, but the students reported that the experience was very rewarding.
By aiding local charities like St. Mary's Food Bank, the GIS @ ASU club has the opportunity to make a real difference for struggling families in the community, and is proud of the work its members have done to creating this change.
October 6, 2016
By Grace Kennedy
On September 29, 2016, officers of Arizona State University’s Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) traveled to Columbus, Ohio for the 45th Annual International Conference hosted by the Grand Chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS). At the conference, GIS @ ASU officers Grace Kennedy, Mykel (Kelsi) Knoles, and Julie Tang learned about various facets of the insurance industry through educational sessions presented by both industry professionals and students of GIS chapters from across the country. The conference also hosted an extensive career fair with more than 60 companies and organizations, and several impressive keynote speakers including Patrick Kinney, executive vice president of field management at Travelers.
One of the key benefits of attending Grand Chapter conferences is sharing knowledge with other chapters. The chapter fundraising ideas that GIS @ ASU vice president Steven Locke learned at the leadership conference in August will be implemented in the coming semester here at ASU.
Officers of GIS @ ASU jumped at the opportunity to present their ideas on how to host a Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) case study. Theirs was one of the first CAS case studies to be offered to university students, so they were in a unique position to share their knowledge with the other chapters.
At events like these, students are able to learn firsthand how actuarial science gets applied in the workplace. Students gain an insider-view and some practical knowledge, which helps them in solidifying their career path before spending many hours studying for the professional exams or dedicating an entire summer to an internship in the actuarial industry.
Another great benefit of the Grand Chapter conference is networking with industry professionals at both the career fair and after industry presentations. GIS @ ASU officers created lasting connections with organizations such as NAPSLO, CAS, and SOA. One such connection, AAMGA, presented the officers with their White Paper Competition for students interested in insurance. The competition consists of students conducting research and writing a white paper to become “subject matter experts” on a topic important to the insurance industry. Interesting topics suggested by industry professionals at the event included the effect autonomous cars will have on the automobile insurance industry.
Overall, GIS @ ASU’s first trip to the International Conference since reactivation was a significant and invaluable step, not only for the officers, but for the chapter members that will benefit from new opportunities.
September 27, 2016
By Drew Gordon and Jacob Langerman
The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) helps to prepare its members to enter a career in the wide-ranging modern insurance industry. After making the decision to pursue a career in this dynamic industry, choosing your exact path may still be a daunting task. It is no secret that the insurance industry encompasses a wide array of disciples ranging from healthcare consultants, life insurance sales agents, to property and causality underwriters. Fortunately, organizations like the Arizona Charted Property & Casualty Underwriters Society Chapter (CPCU) exist to aid aspiring students in this complicated decision. Specifically, the CPCU Society is committed to providing resources, educational programs and leadership opportunities to develop new talent and foster insurance business skills. Recently, the Arizona CPCU Society Chapter made it clear that they are extremely eager to support education by generously donating $1,500 to the GIS Kappa Chapter at ASU.
During a student’s college tenure, every little bit helps. However, this donation will go a long way to make opportunities more accessible and affordable to all club members. The GIS Kappa Chapter is extremely fortunate to have the local industry not only lend their time and talent at club events (such as mock interview night, Career Day), but also their financial contributions. This money will go towards enhanced and more far-reaching events, giving students more opportunities to interact with local professionals and gain perspective on the industry. For example, GIS @ ASU officers recently attended the 45th International Gamma Conference in Columbus, Ohio, proudly representing the newly reactivated chapter. Additionally, the club plans to have a presence at the Annual CAS conference in November. Attributing this money to travel expenses opens up a world of opportunity far beyond the scope of the valley. It cannot be stressed enough how meaningful these funds are to the growing student organization.
GIS @ ASU wants to express their upmost gratitude to Arizona CPCU Society members Brad Magick, Brett Clausen, and Lamont Boyd for their hospitality and continued support of the growing organization. The club will remember the donation, and certainly do its best to pay it forward, by helping in the development of a new generation of prospective insurance professionals.
September 27, 2016
By Zhihan Jennifer Zhang
ASU’s Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter is dedicated to helping its students succeed in the workplace — but that means first getting students in the door. To help actuarial students better prepare for the world of job applications and resumes, the club hosted an event that focused on a very practical skill: interviewing.
Rather than simply lecturing about interview tips, the club instead chose to invite 27 industry professionals from a variety of local and national insurance companies to meet and interview ASU’s actuarial science students. Actuaries from the following companies were represented during the event:
Over the course of the evening, every student had the opportunity to “interview” with two actuaries for 40 minutes each. Each mock interview included a 10-minute feedback period in which industry professionals reviewed the students’ responses and offered appropriate advice for how best to proceed in the future.
Different sets of typical interview questions were provided for each session to give both the students and the interviewers a more diverse and complete experience. The actuarial professionals were free to stray from the list, however, to the benefit of both parties — the students had the chance to adapt to different situations, and the interviewers were able to thoroughly vet potential hires.
The interviewing portion of the night was bordered by networking sessions in which the attending students could mingle with all of the local actuaries attending the event. Everyone reported that it was a positive experience: students had the opportunity to refine their interviewing skills, and companies got a better look at the next generation of actuaries in the valley.
September 25, 2016
By Jacob Langerman
On September 20th, Mercer, an industry leader in health and benefits, retirement, and talent strategy, came to Arizona State University to advertise their company and recruit for their intern and full-time positions. Specifically, positions for their Government Human Services Consulting sector, which is headquartered in Phoenix, AZ.
The event kicked off with a brief presentation describing Mercer’s practice and involvement in the fast-paced dynamic American public healthcare market. A market that serves nearly seventy-million Americans every year who qualify for Medicaid and Medicare benefits. Mercer’s Government Human Services Consulting sector’s role in this market is designing, pricing, and analyzing the Medicaid programs for twenty-seven states in the country.
After an introduction to their enterprise, Mercer proposed a competition among students titled “Mercermon Go” a spinoff on the successful smart phone application Pokemon Go. Students teamed up in groups of 6-8 to compete. The victors would be the team that gathered the most experience in a thirty minute interval. For those that have never participated in the online phenomenon, Pokemon Go experience is earned by capturing creatures within the application.
After the competition, Mercer invited the students to join them at La Bocca on Mill Ave. for an opportunity to network, mingle, and enjoy some delicious Italian cuisine. This provided students with an opportunity to introduce themselves to the seven company representatives, and learn more about Mercer’s potential openings and business practices.
To discover more about Mercer visit www.mercer-government.mercer.com.
(L to R) David Speyer, Jacob Langerman, Connor Schmitt, Mykel (Kelsi) Knoles, Kate Fricker, Emily Stampfel, Fangyaruo Zhou
September 10, 2016
By Jennifer Zhang
After a brief hiatus over the summer, ASU’s Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter kicked off the new semester this week by meeting with eight actuaries from Nationwide, including the new chief actuary Scott Roth as well as his predecessor Ken Levine. Rather than preparing a dry evening full of speeches and facts, Nationwide hosted an entirely different sort of event: Escape the Office.
Modeled after popular point-and-click computer games, room escape games are physical adventure puzzles in which players solve a number of riddles and clues to find the “key” to a locked room. The meticulous planning of Nationwide’s employees resulted in an elaborate, specially-designed challenge for GIS club members involving everything from Fibonacci numbers to football miscellanea to QR codes. Four teams of students raced to decipher the clues and “escape the office,” using their knowledge of probability, origami, and Microsoft Excel to finish each leg of the problem.
The goal of the challenge was to unlock a computer and calculate the answer to an actuarial problem. This objective may sound simple but proved to be quite complex—even figuring out the password to the computer was a time-consuming task. The winning team managed to reach the conclusion in just over 54 minutes.
The night didn’t end there though: after all the teams “escaped,” everyone relocated to a nearby restaurant, where GIS members continued to network with the representatives from Nationwide over a meal at Z’Tejas. Students had the opportunity to mingle with the industry professionals while Nationwide kept an eye out for promising talent—all in all, it was a successful meeting for everyone!
September 8, 2016
The Gamma Iota Sigma Leadership Conference was held August 25-28, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. The purpose of this conference was to provide a forum for leadership development and an opportunity for attendees to network, discuss fundraising and event ideas, and receive updates from the Grand Chapter. The attendees consisted of at least one member from every active GIS chapter. The Co-President, Steven Locke represented the Kappa chapter at Arizona State University.
The theme of the three-day conference was summarized by a quote by Dennis A Peer, “One measure of leadership is the caliber of people who choose to follow you.”
The program of the conference consisted of the: leadership training, maintaining and recruiting members, fundraising, public relations, as well as “Meet and Greet” with the industry. Ivy Kusinga, Senior Vice President at Chubb, kicked-off the conference with an interactive leadership training session. Kusinga shared the defining characteristics of a great leader as well as her experience. This provided a great framework and stimulated conversation in small discussion groups. The time spent in group discussion was a great opportunity for chapter leaders to exchange challenges and successes they have experienced. Recruiting and maintaining members has seemed to be the most prevalent issue chapters faced; however, this is easily remedied by attracting well known speakers and providing food and refreshments at club events. The success of educational, professional, and social events organized by the chapter were highly associated with the amount of funds invested in their execution; which is why fundraising was another popular topic. While chapter leaders agreed that club events are beneficial to both students and practitioners, the Chapter’s exposure nationwide has increased by students attending conferences. Unfortunately, conferences are costly and some solutions that have been fruitful in raising the necessary funds is Golf Outing, raffles.
On a less serious note, the attendees of the conference were also provided an opportunity to socialize off-the-click at a dinner at Gordon Biersch followed by a minor league baseball game, experience the Columbus downtime nightlife, and form long lasting inter-chapter partnerships. Next destination, the 45th International Gamma Iota Sigma Conference again in Columbus at the end of September.
August 19, 2016
While Sun Devils started their first days of class at ASU, GIS attended class at a different university. On August 18th and 19th program director Dr. Jelena Milovanovic and the officers of GIS attended the annual AAMGA University West at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. For actuaries, education is not only an obvious prerequisite to the profession, but also an active and ongoing part of the job description -- even after the exams have been passed and designations earned. From 8:00am to 5:00pm, GIS observed educational presentations and panelist discussions given by professionals in the insurance industry elucidating the Excess & Surplus lines of business.
The 2016 AAMGA University West event saw attendance from insurance professionals not only across the U.S., but also internationally. Underwriters, brokers, wholesalers and more, all seeking to learn about the industry, sat down for AAMGA’s educational presentations. Classes ranged from introductions to more advanced topics, giving all attendees a chance to learn something new. The classes were designed specifically for underwriters seeking broader knowledge about Excess and Surplus insurance, a lesser known and interesting vocation.
Actuaries need to communicate effectively with the other facets of the organization, from the underwriting to brokerage departments. These classes offered at AAMGA gave GIS officers an opportunity to step into the shoes of other vital professions in the industry, an experience that will immensely benefit them when they start their careers.
August 17, 2016
A club without members cannot amount to much; however, sometimes finding new members is easier said than done. Thus, on August 17th, the club officers and advisor Dr. Jelena Milovanovic represented the Kappa chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma at the annual Passport to ASU. At this fall welcome event, hundreds of clubs and organization at ASU came together in a massive, astonishing display of tri-folds, banners, and club merchandise on a myriad of tables throughout campus. GIS took advantage of this opportunity to recruit new members before they are overwhelmed by the upcoming school year.
The evening passed quickly as conversations carried on between the officers and passing students who wanted to learn more about the large banners on either side of our table, which flaunted the opportunities in the insurance industry presented by GIS. Students who were interested in joining the club left their contact information, and will be sent further updates and information about upcoming opportunities to get involved with the club.
The evening ended on an unexpected high note. Though she kept it quietly to herself, we discovered that Grace Kennedy, the co-president of GIS, had recently said “Yes” to a beautiful ring on her left hand! The team celebrated this wonderful news afterwards.
April 21, 2016
After a period of dormancy, ASU’s Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) reactivated last fall. The chapter hosted a promising kick-off event in September with over one hundred prospective members in attendance. The chapter has shown strong engagement with the insurance industry, demonstrated by significant attendance at the events of organizations such as the Arizona Actuary Club and Casualty Actuaries of the Desert States. Word of the chapter’s revival at ASU has attracted representatives from local companies, giving members opportunities to network with local professionals. The club also put forth a dedicated effort to help those in need by volunteering at St. Mary’s food bank. Suffice it to say, GIS @ ASU has had quite a busy year.
As the spring semester of 2016 comes to a close, GIS @ ASU rewarded its members for a year of commitment and exam-taking with a jovial evening of food and live music on April 15. The end-of-year social featured club members as well as a number of notable ASU alumni who have successfully embarked on careers in insurance. The highlight of the night was the announcement of new officers, who underwent a rigorous selection process prior to the event.
The chapter is excited to welcome not only the new officers but also their unique perspectives and ambitions to the organization. Despite this period of transition, the mission of the GIS @ ASU remains the same. Behind new leadership, the club will continue to provide an entity to foster meaningful connections between students and the intriguing local insurance industry. GIS @ ASU expresses gratitude and appreciation for a wonderful year of growth and service from not only the officers, but the entirety of the organization.
While the social marked the end of a year for GIS @ ASU, it signals the beginning of new opportunities for ASU students. Members look forward to a busy summer of internships, and will return in the fall ready to share their newfound insight and eagerly participate in the club and in the community. This upcoming year will be defined by expansion, as the GIS @ ASU aims to boost not only its membership but also relations to local insurance companies. Here’s to a fantastic year, and an even more phenomenal one ahead!
By Drew Gordon, Julie Tang, Jacob Langerman - student members
March 7, 2016
Far too often individuals dismiss issues of gender inequality in the workforce, with the naïve mindset that gap is shrinking. Unfortunately, this idealistic misconception is far from the truth. To put the severity of this problem into perspective, in 2014 the median weekly earnings of women were just 83 percent of that of men. Furthermore, women make up roughly 54 percent of the financial services industry, yet merely make up 12 percent of executive officer positions. Looking at the healthcare industry, 78 percent of the workforce is composed of women; yet only 12 percent are executives. This staggering list goes on and on. Clearly, there still exists a pattern of institutional gender inequality today in America. This presents the question: how and when will we as Americans finally eliminate the gender gap in the workforce?
We can look back at decades of political reform ranging from the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the proposed Equality Act of 2015. However, through all this sweeping legislation, inequality is still prominent in the United States. Thus, it becomes evident that the complicated endeavor of constructing a fair working environment is the responsibility of the companies themselves. There are a multitude of corporations that only aspire to generate as much profit as possible, and put the issue of gender equality in the background. However, there are few companies that actually try to affect positive change when it comes to the stigma of the gender gap in the work place. One such company is Mercer.
Mercer is a global leader in healthcare, retirement investments, mergers and acquisitions, and talent management. Mercer serves a wide range of clients in the following industries: energy, insurance, healthcare, financial services, and retail. Their extensive work enterprise and knowledge in the corporate world is nothing short of impressive. However, there is something just as impressive that you will not find in their books or finances; namely, the diversity throughout the entire scope of the company. While Mercer holds the success of their company to the highest standards, they do so while creating a healthy, fair, and diverse working environment.
Most notably, in 2014, Mercer started a program entitled “When Women Thrive, Businesses Thrive” with the ultimate goal of promoting gender equality, not only in their organization, but also in other global organizations. Specifically, “When Women Thrive” is a “global research and solution platform designed to help organizations drive growth through the active and productive participation of their female workforce.”
The importance of initiatives such as this one that Mercer is undertaking must not be overlooked. These are the exact kind of programs that companies must introduce if the gender gap is to ever be eradicated. More companies must look to examples like Mercer, and realize that the presence of a Y chromosome does not constitute superb management skills. And that the real question that has to be answered when searching for the newest executives is who is best equipped to get the job done, and ultimately who can the company trust. It is hard to define success when it comes to large corporations, but respecting each member of your organization and allowing them to thrive certainly seems like a good start.
Commentary by Jacob Langerman (student club member)
March 1, 2016
Stepping into a new career is a scary prospect, but with knowledge and experience comes confidence and ability. With this confidence and ability, a new career can become a source of excitement. Attending a career fair can be the first step to gain these two attributes, as well as an invaluable network of professionals. For students in the actuarial science degree program, the Actuarial Science Career Day held on February 11 was a turning point in many students’ career paths. The event includeed an array of events, such as two actuarial panels, 15-minute interview slots, and first come first serve networking time with over 20 local companies. Overall, it was a huge success, with dozens of actuaries of varying levels of experience attending.
The event began with Matthew Hassett introducing the Actuarial Analyst panel. This panel was comprised of ten actuaries in various stages of the exam process to become ASA’s or ACAS’s. They answered student questions for half an hour, ranging from subjects such as studying for exams to work-life balance. A networking session followed, consisting of both scheduled interviews and open chat sessions. Next was the Senior Actuary panel, made up of sixteen more experienced actuaries, some of whom had worked in the industry for decades. These seasoned actuaries also answered questions from students by sharing their experiences in the industry over the years. They shed light on how career paths could turn out different than expected, as well as the challenges that are faced during the journey to becoming an established actuary. The event concluded with one final networking session so students could get as much face time with prospective employers as possible.
This year’s Actuarial Science Career Day was the biggest to date. It is expected to grow again next year due to the strength of the new actuarial science degree program and the local industry’s support. The event truly showed the interest and the strength that is already present as there was never a dull moment whether you were a freshmen, senior, or graduate student. Several of the companies represented were able to offer summer internships, making them very attractive to upperclassmen seeking actuarial experience. Some of the companies didn’t have internships but remained an excellent source of knowledge for the younger students. In conclusion, the event proved to be a valuable networking experience, allowing students to make connections that could prove vital in a future job search.
By Drew Gordon, Grace Kennedy, and Shea Ingram (student members)
February 23, 2016
At one time or another, every college student will start looking towards the future and start planning for life after graduation. They will start looking at possible careers and potential employers, trying to find their dream job. They begin to prepare themselves for fierce competition that they will face when entering the job market for the first time. Then at last they come upon the pressing matter of the all-important internship, the final piece to complete their perfect resume. Where do they look? Who is hiring an intern? Where can they gain that critical experience that will separate themselves from their peers and impress potential employers? We too of course went through these same trying questions, and can hopefully answer them as well by sharing our experience at AAA Arizona.
Interning at AAA Arizona was a perfect opportunity for us to supplement and expand our knowledge of the Property and Casualty Insurance industry. Throughout a six week paid internship, we received exposure to the key functions and components of the AAA family such as data technicians, marketers, operation teams, call center agents, internet agents, independent agents, sales managers, and even the Vice President. They even personalized our experience by arranging a video conference with members of their actuarial team from their corporate headquarters in Walnut Creek, California, making the entire process even more applicable to our college studies. Due to this wide variety of exposure, we received a unique opportunity to study an all-encompassing perspective of the most fundamental foundations of insurance. We believe that this unique opportunity will be a solid foundation as we progress through our actuarial careers, and would not only help create a more developed and aware graduate from the actuarial science program, but from any degree program at ASU.
Although students do not usually consider insurance as a career, they would be unwise to overlook an industry that employs 2.5 million people, contributes 421.4 billion dollars to the U.S. economy, and has 5.1 trillion dollars in assets. With these astonishing numbers it should be hard to resist wanting to learn more about the many opportunities that the insurance industry offers, and we know just the place to start. With their relaxed atmosphere, brand prestige, and unique business model that goes far beyond car insurance and road side assistance, AAA Arizona is the perfect environment for any emerging career. Every member of the AAA Arizona family, regardless of position or department, made us feel at home and welcome. They were extremely accommodating of our school/work schedules and truly went above and beyond our expectations to ensure that our experience there was both informative and enjoyable. We would definitely recommend this as an excellent opportunity to anyone that is eager to achieve a greater knowledge of the overall Property and Casualty Insurance field and learn more about the specialized role that AAA possesses in the insurance marketplace.
By Steven Locke and Alex Sabrowsky (student members) - shown here with Brad Oltmans, vice president of insurance at AAA of Arizona
February 19, 2016
On the morning of February 19, members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU made the trip to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. Working an assembly line, members of the chapter alongside faculty were able to help prepare and package 24 pallets of food (approximately 24,480 pounds) for distribution to food-insecure families in the Phoenix area. The USDA estimates that, on average, 1.2 pounds of food is equivalent to one meal. However, for the food-insecure population who often have no choice but to stretch their meals, this number is closer to 0.6 pounds of food per meal. Doing the math, the small efforts of all the volunteers who took three hours out of their morning guaranteed about forty-thousand meals that would have otherwise been uncertain.
Compared to our volunteering excursion in October 2015, the spring event saw twice the number of volunteers setting aside their other duties to give back to the community. Alongside actuarial program coordinator Jelena Milovanovic, May Boggess, and Raymond Ye Zhang, the seventeen members of Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa worked as diligently and efficiently as a Ford-style assembly team.
By Julie Tang, Steven Locke (student club members)
The Excess and Surplus Lines Symposium hosted by Troy University and NAPLSO (National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices, Ltd.) was an incredible opportunity for students pursuing a variety of insurance related degrees to gain insight on what they can expect in the industry. From panels of recent graduates to informative seminars from some of the industry’s leaders, we learned why excess and surplus is the most dynamic and challenging line of insurance. Jill Jinks of Insurance House started the event with a powerful speech that explained the specialized role that E & S insurance providers play in the market. Excess and surplus line insurance companies typically insure risks that are not accepted by the standard lines insurance market. This could be due to a variety of reasons but likely because of a bad loss history or a unique risk that makes standard lines unwilling to insure. Since they are not bound by the rate and form regulations imposed on admitted carriers, the E & S market is known for developing innovative types of coverage to meet the needs of the emerging market. Without the excess and surplus market, organizations and businesses would be faced with the dilemma of going uninsured, self-insured, or finding coverage from a different country.
Charlie Kingdollar of Gen Re brought to light some of the emerging issues we will see in the future. One of the biggest issues could be the implementation of driverless cars, which are expected to reduce the amount of vehicles through increased car sharing and greatly reduce accidents by eliminating human error. Although this will be an amazing innovation in transportation, this will be a hot topic in insurance for quite some time. With a decrease in the number of accidents and overall vehicle ownership, we expect to see a massive decline in car insurance premium. Nevertheless, the insurance industry is hopeful they can offset the deficit through car producers or software developers purchasing more insurance to manage the risk they will be picking up by taking control of the wheel. Another huge opportunity for the insurance industry will be cyber protection. As technology becomes more complex and sophisticated, so do the threats we face and we must be protected against them. The number of large companies and corporations that have been hacked is truly astonishing and is a testament that every organization needs to be prepared with cyber liability insurance. It is clear that as time goes on consumers’ insurance needs will change, but the insurance industry has shown its resilience and will continue to adapt to provide the coverage its clients need.
In addition to the knowledge we gained, we were also provided excellent opportunities to network with professionals from the industry and our peers. With representatives from 22 different companies in the career fair and over 100 students from 20 schools, there was surely no shortage of conversation. The first night had two hours set aside for dinner, networking and games at Main Event, and the second day offered networking opportunities at any of the three catered meals and a career fair. I truly value the opportunity to spend time learning and asking questions with some of the leaders in the excess and surplus industry. This event was extremely informative and actually helped solidify my decision to pursue a career in the excess and surplus field.
by Steven Locke (student member)
November, 2, 2015
For aspiring actuaries, attaining a designation as an associate with either the Society of Actuaries or the Casualty Actuary Society is proof of a long and strenuous journey towards becoming a credentialed actuary. Similarly, the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation provides this same level of prestige for underwriters in the insurance industry. The designation is offered by The Institutes and can be achieved by passing a series of rigorous exams in addition to adhering to a stringent code of ethics. Once one attains the CPCU designation, they become a member of the CPCU Society. For new designees, an annual conference is held to celebrate their achievement and introduce them to other CPCU’s from around the world.
In addition to providing new and existing CPCU’s a chance to build valuable professional relationships, the annual conference also invites students to learn more about insurance and meet industry experts. Organized by Lamont Boyd, from the CPCU Arizona chapter, the CPCU Society’s student program allows local chapters to sponsor students (mainly those majoring in risk management) to attend the annual conference. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to be sponsored by Lamont and the Arizona chapter and attend this year’s conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.
As a student attendee, I was permitted to attend all of the regular educational seminars offered to the CPCU Society members. These covered a variety of topics, from drones to climate change to legalized marijuana, and the effects that each are having on the insurance industry. These sessions were not only a great opportunity to learn about emerging issues in the insurance field, but also an excellent representation of how the insurance industry is constantly changing and adapting.
In addition to the regularly scheduled events, students attending the conference were offered special seminars and networking opportunities, such as a networking dinner with industry professionals from companies such as USAA and Traveler’s. We were granted the chance to meet with experienced insurance professionals throughout the course of the conference and learn about their firsthand experiences in the industry. One thing all of these people had in common was that they all loved their jobs and were extremely passionate about working in the insurance industry. And as somebody about to start a career in insurance, that is an encouraging thing to see.
by Shea Ingram (student member)
October 20, 2015
In the 1960’s, an ailing mother confided in soup kitchen volunteer John van Hengel that she could only feed her family through soup kitchens and scavenging dumpsters. According to the St. Mary’s website, Hengel was profoundly affected by the horror of her situation, and thus founded St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance as the first food bank of its kind in the world. After nearly five decades of battling hunger, St. Mary’s continues to make its impact today as one of the largest food bank operations in the nation.
Though most of us take our next meal as a given, one in seven adults and one in three children in the Phoenix area do not have that luxury. The contrast is especially harsh during the holiday season, which is when food donations such as those provided by St. Mary’s Food Bank are needed most. But St. Mary’s cannot run itself, and so the Actuary Club at ASU and Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU lent helping hands during the "Week of Giving."
At the St. Mary’s Food Bank distribution center in Phoenix, the students gathered to aid in the packing and distribution of much-needed nonperishables to low-income families. Actuarial science program coordinator, Jelena Milovanovic, worked alongside her dedicated team of ten club members and officers from both student clubs.
The students worked in teams, navigating a large warehouse transporting pallets and boxes to be filled with foodstuffs for later shipment. Being experts at not only the time value of money but also the monetary value of time, the students lived up to the expectations of their future professions; in their efficiency and ability to adapt, the team finished not only all assigned duties but also cleaned and restocked the rest area.
The clubs’ involvement in the “Week of Giving” is a testament to their commitment to the community. Students learned there is more to life than their own personal goals and pursuits, and taking time to help others truly makes a big difference. The experience served to remind students that no matter where one is in life, there is always reward in helping others.
The next St. Mary’s food drive volunteering event will be held on February 19, 2016, and twenty volunteers are needed. To volunteer, contact Steven Locke at Steven.T.Locke@asu.edu.
By Drew Gordon, Julie Tang, Steven Locke (student club members)
September 15, 2015
Thanks to the tireless efforts of actuarial science program coordinator Jelena Milovanovic, AIAA, Ph.D., and sponsorships from Arizona’s insurance industry, Arizona State University officially introduced the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter during its September 1, 2015 kick-off event.
Nearly one hundred students, most from ASU’s actuarial science program in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, met with industry leaders to learn about opportunities within the property and casualty insurance industry in Arizona and nationally - and to start those necessary relationships now.
Thanks to Noelle Codispoti, executive director for Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS), the international risk management, insurance and actuarial science collegiate fraternity was represented by Logan Mendenhall. Logan is a 2014 graduate of Gamma’s Alpha Epsilon Chapter at Indiana State University and is now with All Risks Ltd., here in Arizona. Logan shared his experiences as a past Gamma Iota Sigma Chapter officer, sharing his ideas to assure a successful Gamma Chapter, and explaining how Gamma helped on his path to the industry. The GIS website tagline is “Preparing the Next Generation of Insurance Professionals,” and they mean it!
ASU’s students spent time and talked with industry leaders. As shared by Mark A. Keller, CPCU, CRM, CRIS with Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA, industry representatives left the event “feeling inspired about the industry’s future.”
Other industry leaders on hand to celebrate the Gamma Iota Sigma kick-off included Tim Goeller, CPCU with State Auto Insurance; Will Thomas, CPCU and Brad Magick, CPCU with USAA; Gary Romay, MBA, CIW with Scottsdale Insurance; and Bruce Fisher, CPCU with The Institutes.
Many thanks to ASU’s GIS insurance industry sponsors for helping make this event and the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter a reality: Arizona CPCU Society Chapter, Arizona Insurance Institute, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Arizona, and Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation.
By Lamont Boyd, CPCU Society