Forty-five CBPA actuary and data analytics students recently competed in a case competition hosted exclusively for Drake students by Travelers Insurance. Divided into 10 groups, the students were able to work on a realistic actuarial problem, using teamwork, communication, research and analytics skills.
Each year during the fall, Travelers holds a case competition in St. Paul, Minn., for six teams from regional colleges. The Drake team won the 2014 competition, but unfortunately Drake students were unable to attend the 2015 competition due to an actuarial recruiting event scheduled for the same day. A handful of Travelers actuaries, however, came up with a solution.
“Travelers has several actuaries who are alumni of Drake,” said John Garza, assistant professor of actuarial science and risk management. “That group of actuaries decided they could bring the competition here in the spring since we couldn’t go there in the fall.”
On March 4, Travelers presented the case problem to the students, who had four hours to do research and then build their recommendations. Each group then presented their work to Garza and two Travelers professionals. Two recruiters from Travelers’ Connecticut branch also flew in for the event to scout for students who might be a good fit for future positions at Travelers.
“Events like the case competitions are beneficial to the students involved as well as Travelers,” said Courtney Garro, senior communications specialist at Travelers. “First, the events provide students with an opportunity to solve a real-world business challenge using skills learned in the classroom. Second, they help Travelers attract talent by familiarizing the students with the company and making them of aware of internships and full-time opportunities.”
Travelers awarded an $800 prize to the winning team, made up of Kate McCoy, Mitchell Fabian, Roy Ju, and Harrison Richards, and a $200 prize to the second place team during an evening reception at the conclusion of the event.
“This is a great learning opportunity, and it’s very important to students because during job interviews they can talk about working on a team to solve an applied problem,” Garza said.
Eric Zange, a senior actuarial science major who participated in the October 2013 Travelers Case competition, was first identified by recruiters at the event and will begin working full-time at Travelers through its Actuarial and Analytics Leadership Development Program following his graduation this May.
“Through the case competition, I was able to show off some of my analytical skills and that I was able to work as a member of the team,” Zange said. “When Travelers brought me on as a part of their summer student program, a number of people said they remembered me and my analytical skills from the competition. Then I was able to leverage that position into an internship at Travelers, which led to a full-time offer.”
Drake faculty also benefited from the case competition event. When the students were working on their projects, Travelers actuaries and human resources representatives met with Drake actuarial science faculty to talk about topics in education, recruitment, internships, and scholarships.
“Enthusiasm for this event was noticeable amongst our students as the 10 team registration limit was reached after only 24 hours,” Garza says. "Normally only six people get to go to the competition in St. Paul, but this year we had 45 students participate.”
Garza doesn’t know if Travelers will bring the competition back to Des Moines in the future, but he expects that Drake students will be able to return to the St. Paul competition next fall.