April 2016

2015 Centers of Actuarial Excellence Student Summit

By Brian Murone and Amber Pramann

The 2015 Centers of Actuarial Excellence (CAE) Student Summit took place August 13–14 in Chicago. The summit included 52 students from 26 universities and three countries. Through this conference, attendees gleaned substantial actuarial knowledge and further developed their personal and professional networks.

Students attended numerous sessions during the conference. The first of these was an introduction to the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and an overview of the current SOA initiatives. Students learned about some potential changes to Exams FM and MFE as well as a few helpful tips for taking actuarial exams. To conclude the session, SOA President-Elect Craig Reynolds took questions regarding his career, the SOA, and his experience co-managing Milliman’s Seattle Life Insurance Consulting Practice. From the students’ perspective, it was an enlightening experience to be able to associate the SOA with a group of professional people instead of simply as an entity that administers the actuarial exams.

Following the first session was a featured actuary panel. The panel included Melanie Beinlich of October Three Consulting LLC, Amanda Hug of MassMutual Financial Group, Sara Teppema of Valence Health, and Joseph Wurzburger of the SOA. Most questions for the panel pertained to professional advice and the differences between consulting and the various insurance fields. In addition to professional advice, the panel stressed the importance of personal development through communication, diverse experiences, and building relationships.

The first day ended with a reception and dinner, which gave the students a chance to network and have further discussion with SOA staff, panel members, and fellow students. It was a great opportunity to make many personal connections with other actuarial professionals and students and compare experiences. Each person had different approaches to leading their respective communities. Despite a busy day, after the reception, many students took to the town to explore the sites of Chicago.

Day two of the summit began with students being split into teams to tackle five different case studies. These case studies challenged students to think through different conflicts that may arise in the workplace. It was interesting to work with such a diverse group of individuals and learn from the many different ways of addressing a situation. After thoroughly analyzing these challenging case studies, groups presented their options and solutions to all attendees.

The final session of the conference was a presentation on neurochemistry and conversational intelligence by Juliann M. Wiese, B. Ed, CPCC. Particularly relevant to college students was an in-depth look at how the body reacts to stressors in everyday life, such as interviews or interactions with coworkers. This very interactive presentation also discussed common communication breakdowns, ways to build rapport, and how to listen to connect.

All in all, meeting with a diverse group of present and future actuaries at the CAE Student Summit was enthralling. The authors of this article extend their thanks to the SOA for including them in this momentous event and strongly encourage other students to take part in the future.