Published 02/02/10

Bryant actuarial math students capture third place in national competition

February 2, 2010

With only four hours to examine a case and propose a set of recommendations, Christopher Auger ’10 (Indianapolis, IN) and his teammates taking part in the 2nd Annual Actuarial Case Competition sponsored by Travelers Insurance had to use each minute wisely.

Auger believes the key to his team’s success was the decision to dedicate the last few minutes of preparation time to coming up with a list of potential questions the judges – Travelers executives – might ask.

“This extra step is what led to our successful presentation and prepared us for everything that was thrown our way,” says Auger.

This attention to detail paid off as Bryant captured third place in the national competition, which took place simultaneously at Travelers’ locations in Hartford, CT and St. Paul, MN. The six participating teams presented their findings via teleconference to a panel of judges in both locations.

In addition to Auger, the team included Matthew Ciaffone ’11 (East Brookfield, MA), Dan DiMugno ’11 (South Windsor, CT), Katie Heeder ’10 (Saunderstown, RI), Tom Lapinski ’11 (Garden City, NY) and Lauren Prue ’10 (Griswold, CT). Jim Bishop, professor of mathematics, accompanied the team to Hartford.

Bryant bested teams from Bentley and the University of Connecticut in taking third place for the second year in a row. The University of Minnesota captured top honors.

The case competition was sponsored by Travelers' Actuarial Leadership Development Program (ALDP).  Leadership development initiatives like ALDP helped the company earn a spot on BusinessWeek’s list of “50 Best Place to Launch a Career.”

Hands-on experience

As part of the competition, the students had to identify potential business opportunities that could arise as a result of an economic recovery, how these opportunities will impact the property/casualty insurance industry, and what Travelers could do to turn these opportunities into a competitive advantage.  

The Bryant team proposed the Travelers Construction Protection Plan for small-to mid-sized construction companies that would insure them in the face of future economic hardships.

Auger, an actuarial mathematics major in Bryant’s College of Arts and Sciences, feels the complementary classes he and his team members have taken in business helped them quickly identify opportunities for growth and the target market for a new product.

“Our business backgrounds paired with the analytical skills we gained throughout the actuarial program prepared us for the competition,” he says. After graduation, Auger will begin working in the Hartford Executive Actuarial Rotational Training program at Hartford Life in an occupation that was recently named by as the best job for 2010.

Heeder, who will begin working as an actuarial analyst for Towers Watson after graduation, says she gained valuable experience applying her classroom knowledge to a real-world situation.

“The competition did not just test my mathematical skills, it tested my ability to work in teams and communicate effectively in a business environment – skills that are essential for success in any company,” says Heeder.

Creating its own product forced the team to think about how related concepts from different courses all fit together, says DiMugno.

 “We might learn about economic indicators in one class and then the Wilshire 5000 (an index of all U.S.-based companies traded on the New York, American, and NASDAQ stock exchanges) in another, but never put them together,” he says. “This gave us the opportunity to see things as a whole.”

“Programs like the case competition give us a context for the information we are taught in the classroom,” adds Ciaffone. “We also developed a greater understanding of the material that we cover in the textbooks.”