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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, visit Orgsync.com and sign in with your ASURITE ID information and request to join. All club information and events are posted there.
GIS Kappa Chapter at ASU officers for 2018-2019
President - Hailey Walters, Vice President - Leo Austin, Treasurer - Emma Terry, Public Relations - Ainsley Ramsey
Committee members (L-R): Brendan Sturm, Maja Stefanovic, Garrett Deimund, Alex Rabine, Alex Kirvan, Kinsey Turk
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