If someone had told me three years ago that I’d work in an industry I’d never heard of and that I’d both love it and want to make a career of it, I’d have said that person was crazy! But life works in mysterious ways.
How I ended up in reinsurance
Two years ago, I started a journey to one of the great loves of my life (strong words, I realize). A lunch conversation started my career in reinsurance, and I will never forget it. I had been working at Verisk Analytics for two and a half years when I went to lunch with Tom Johansmeyer (@tjohansmeyer). I’d already been talking to people internally about various opportunities, and Tom and I talked more about my career development plan in the industry. Then he presented me with an opportunity with PCS® that I couldn’t refuse. It fit perfectly with my personality, combining research, analytics, industry exposure, and dynamic product development. My heart skipped a beat, and I could not believe how fortunate I was to be at the right time with the right person at the table.
My first dinner in the industry
About six months later, I was doing a lot of reading, taking exams for the Associate in Reinsurance, and trying to make sense of all that the new industry had to offer. That’s when Tom, my manager and mentor, said I’d be joining him at the pre–Artemis ILS NYC dinner event, where I’d meet some of the people I was reading about. This is one of the best one-day events for the reinsurance industry in New York City, and spending the night talking to knowledgeable and experienced people, I felt small but ambitious as well. I knew someday I would fill their shoes and, with Tom as mentor, that day would come fast. He believed in me, and I was not going to disappoint him or myself. At the dinner table, I sat right next to an industry CEO, and even though my industry knowledge was a bit limited at that point, I knew I was in the right place. I felt hungry, but not for food: my appetite was for reinsurance.
Conferences and meetings: Connections, connections, connections
That first conference offered a small taste of what this industry has to offer. Great people share knowledge and ideas and often collaborate to make the future of the industry even better by seeing those ideas implemented.
Making connections isn’t just “all talk,” though. All my early interactions led to a new product a few months later. It can be tough to get people to trust you, collaborate, and share intelligence so you can ultimately build something better for them—but it’s not impossible. All connections may share a little bit of their “secret sauce” so that we can make a better market.
Connections—I cannot stress how important that word is. Meeting face-to-face and talking about various events or day-to-day risks and exposures can derive the course of your career. We live in a day and age in which analytics and artificial intelligence would probably do a better job than any human being could. But nothing will replace that human interaction. I can attest that I’ve originated and developed at least two product ideas since talking with my connections.
The cherry on top
A while back, I was told that the reinsurance industry is different from the primary insurance industry, but I didn’t want to believe that. Yet it’s true. The reinsurance industry is always talking cutting-edge technology. It’s an industry that has to be up to speed with the latest developments, major trends, and emerging risks that affect modern society. Reinsurance sustains and enhances our current existence by the simple fact that it quantifies our human risk of real-time and possible future major catastrophic events, be they natural or man-made.
When I try to explain to my friends what I do and talk about the industry I work in, after five or ten minutes of explanation, they look at me and say it sounds complicated and boring. When in fact it’s the exact opposite.
This market offers growth opportunity for my career and for me as a human being. And after my first year, I’m still excited to get up in the morning and get to work.