GIS @ ASU News Archive 2016-2017

June 5, 2017
By Zhihan Jennifer Zhang

Chip Pecchio (of RSUI), the chair of AAMGA’s Education Committee, with winner Zhihan Jennifer Zhang

Chip Pecchio of RSUI and chair of AAMGA’s Education Committee with winner 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

OHSO happy hourOn 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.

OHSO happy hour group

winning teamOn 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.

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

CPCU Golf FundraiserOn 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.

GIS Members Presenting at CAS ConferenceAdditionally, 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.

GIS Members Presenting at CAS Conference in FLStudents 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.

Students enjoying ASU vs Utah football 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.

Math swami

Math swami Drew Gordon read the minds of attendees at ASU Homecoming 2016

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.

homecoming 2016

Clockwise from upper left: Bo Swoverland, Brendan Sturm, Grace Kennedy, Jennifer Zhang

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.

NAPSLO attendees

L to R: Bo Swoverland, Steven Locke, and Justin Mohn (project manager NAPSLO)

October 15, 2016
by Zhihan Jennifer Zhang

GIS helping St. Mary's Food Bank

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

GIS officers at national conference

L-R: Grace Kennedy, chapter adivosr Jelena Milvanovic, Julie Tang, Kelsi Knoles

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.

GIS officers present on CAS case studyOfficers 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.

GIS national conference attendees

September 27, 2016
By Drew Gordon and Jacob Langerman

CPCU donation

L-R: Brad Magick - Treasurer, Brett Clausen - Immediate Past President, Dr. Jelena Milovanovic - faculty advisor for GIS @ ASU, and Lamont Boyd - Chair of the Arizona CPCU Society Student Engagement Committee

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:

  •  Actuarial Strategies and Tactics
  •  American International Group
  •  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
  •  Bob Bessen Actuarial Services
  •  CVS Caremark
  •  FICO
  •  GPW and Associates
  •  Mercer
  •  Nationwide
  •  Nautilus Insurance
  •  Optumas
  •  Oxford Life
  •  Risk Placement Services
  •  Sagicor Life
  •  Segal Consulting
  •  State Farm
  •  UnitedHealthcare

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

Mercermon Go

(L to R) David Speyer, Jacob Langerman, Connor Schmitt, Mykel (Kelsi) Knoles, Kate Fricker, Emily Stampfel, Fangyaruo Zhou

GIS Escape the officeSeptember 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.

GIS Escape the officeThe 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!

GIS Leadership ConferenceSeptember 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.

GIS Leadership Conference

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

GIS membersA 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.