GIS @ ASU News Archive 2015-2016

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.  

2016-2017 GIS OfficersAs 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.

Women from MercerMercer 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

AAA InternshipAt 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

Students at St. Mary's Food BankOn 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

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