Leaving UCSB

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Leaving UCSB - Selected Profiles

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Richard Manship, ACAS, MAAA

Class of 1991, B.S. in Statistical Sciences, B.A. in Physics

I graduated in June 1991 from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Science in Statistics and a Bachelor of Arts in Physics. Between physics and statistics, the coursework at UCSB prepared me well for the Actuarial profession in terms of developing strong problem solving abilities, as well as successful completion of early actuarial exams. I am proud to be one of the first UCSB graduates with an Actuarial emphasis within the statistics major.

My career began during the summer of 1990, when I interned in the commercial unit at Fireman’s Fund in Novato, CA. Upon graduation, I accepted a position as an actuarial analyst within the property and casualty division at a consulting actuarial company (Milliman) in Pasadena, CA. Following my tenure at Milliman, my work experience includes three years as an actuarial analyst, manager, and Assistant Vice President at a national workers’ compensation company (Fremont Compensation); Assistant Vice President at an insurance management firm for an excess medical malpractice risk retention group (Premier Insurance Management Services); and a director role and various officer roles from June 2001 to present at ICW Group. In my current position as Chief Actuary with ICW Group, I lead the Actuarial Services Department for which I am responsible for ratemaking/pricing, estimating liabilities (reserving), forecasting/budgeting, corporate reporting, business intelligence sponsorship, and analytics activities across workers’ compensation and private passenger auto.

I became an Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries (AAA) in 2002. Through ongoing education certification, I continue to meet the AAA qualification standards for statements of actuarial opinion regarding fire and casualty insurance company statutory Annual Statements.

Insurance companies have a myriad of business problems to solve and the actuarial skill set enables a broad viewpoint into end-to-end processes. With advances in technology, insurance companies are now implementing technology solutions at a rapid pace. Weaving analytic considerations into the transactional environment requires knowledgeable individuals with business acumen.

In the early portion of my carrier, there were a lot of math and reading requirements, yet relatively little use of statistics. Although one with a passion for statistics could become somewhat disillusioned, new practice areas are emerging which require statistical knowledge and data manipulation skills (especially with larger data sets becoming increasingly available). Experience in R, SAS, SPSS, or Statistica will come in handy as analytics continue to advance, relying more and more on a solid statistical background. While programming skills in SQL are a plus, information technology colleagues can generally assist as long as you can define the requirements based upon your acquired business knowledge.

To realize full potential in the actuarial field, I recommend building upon a statistical background by seeking training in data mining and modeling (including GLMs). At the same time, enhancing communication skills is very important for advancement in a business environment. Certainly the early years are the most challenging, as you face a steep learning curve filled with exam coursework, on the job training in a practice area, and balancing your personal and professional life. It takes dedication and persistence while keeping an eye on your long-term goals.

My hope for UCSB students is that you find your passion in actuarial science. Once you have attained a level of experience in your elected industry, your statistical background will enable you to pursue your goals with vigor and realize your vision for success.

Eric J. Weibel, RPLU. 

Class of 1994, B.S. Statistical Sciences

I obtained employment as a Statistician at a software company, Cadence Design Systems, before even graduating from UCSB, which in turn helped put me through school. After UCSB, I took Graduate Level courses at SDSU for a year, and then moved on to take my first “actuarial” job in San Diego at ICW Group, doing property & casualty work. While there I did rate filings, rate support work, and some reinsurance underwriting. After three years I moved on to Arrowhead General Insurance Agency, where I advanced to Senior Actuarial Analyst, creating innovative personal and commercial insurance products. In 1999 I moved on to become Automobile Product Manager for 49 states at Tower Hill Insurance Group. In 2001 I moved on to become Vice President and Chief Actuary of Cabrillo General Insurance Agency, which I helped to found. I still hold an equity stake in the company. While there I developed and managed new personal automobile and personal property products for the state of California. Insurance companies involved included AXA, Hudson, Clarendon, MGA and Sirius America. To-date the programs have generated well in excess of $100 million in premiums with excellent loss results. Since leaving Cabrillo in 2006, I founded Alta Financial & Insurance Services, LLC, which will be an insurance wholesaler. I am also working on forming a General Insurance Agency, which will develop, manage, and distribute property and casualty insurance products. In 2008 I achieved the designation of Registered Professional Liability Underwriter (RPLU), which is administered by the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS). I am licensed to transact Fire & Casualty, Life, Accident & Health, and Surplus Lines as a California resident insurance producer.

So far in my career I have hired two UCSB graduates in actuarial programs, and assisted one other in a job search. In 2008, I co-authored my first paper, “Territory Analysis with Mixed Models and Clustering,” which was published by the Casualty Actuarial Society in the 2008 Discussion Paper Program. My co-author was J. Paul Walsh, a UCSB math-econ grad and actuary club member, whom I recruited to Cabrillo.

In addition to developing specific insurance products, I am currently looking into several lines of research, including: 1) Accident-proneness, 2) Technology Liability/Crime/Property loss costs and their relation to software engineering processes and metrics, 3) Mapping relative performance of non-closed-form GLMs to Combined Model Maximum Likelihood in Classification Ratemaking, 4) Introducing new causal geographical rating variables, and 5) The use of telematic data in the rating of personal automobile insurance.

UCSB definitely prepared me well. The Statistical Computing course enabled me to obtain employment while still an undergrad, and I still make use of it today. The Stochastic Processes series was critical in my development. I also enjoyed Operations Research. My career has been pretty unconventional, working with smaller companies in roles that include product development and management, as well as some general management. The extremely broad selection of courses at UCSB definitely helped to round me out and prepare me for this. I greatly enjoyed and profited from my courses in the History of Western Civilization, Political Philosophy/Science, and Literary Theory & Criticism.

Matthew Montero 

Class of 2010, B.S. Statistical Sciences

UCSB was where I called home for 4 years. Not only was I able to learn statistics and actuary science, I was able to obtain a stronger understanding of programing including statistical programming though R. It was in Dr. Meiring classes which I first learned about the language which is now my primary programing language in my carreer. I have been with NCCI Holdings for two years now and have loved every minute of it. Not only have I been passing exams and received a promotion, but also became the co-author for two research publications, "Indemnity Benefit Duration and Obesity" and "Bayesian Trend Selection". I feel I have been given the greatest amount opportunities then possible with any other company.

Ryan Doria 

Class of 2010, B.S. Statistical Sciences, B.A. in Psychology

After graduating, I applied to dozens of positions relating to research and data analysis eventually landing a job as a Data Analyst for mental health research at the Veterans Health Administration. My favorite class was actually a psychology graduate course PSY 221C, regression for social sciences, in conjunction with the theoretical regression course PSTAT 126 because it helped me develop thorough understanding of the conceptual meaning along with the theoretical details. I was also able to learn how to conduct analyses in R and SPSS, both valuable skills in the job market. In hindsight, I also really enjoyed PSTAT 130 and 131 because they exposed me to SAS which is a very valuable software program to know. I ended up learning a lot more in those classes than I thought I did! I would encourage statistics students to get a firm grasp of the core classes PSTAT 120A and 120B, even reviewing the material later in the program as concepts become clear. Most importantly, I would encourage students to communicate with each other, study together, and develop friendships, especially the non-actuarial students, because we are a small major and the material becomes easier to learn when you can explain it to each other.

Taylor Gilbert

Class of 2012, B.S. Statistical Science

taylorEducation Path: My education was much different than any other UCSB student’s education path, and I would venture a little more challenging, but luckily the PSTAT staff is incredibly helpful and cared so much about me. I decided to major in Statistical Sciences when I transferred in from city college because we are in a data flooded and driven world without many people that can understand the meaning behind the numbers. As a transfer student, I was forced to take 3-4 PSTAT, ECON, or COMPSCI classes per quarter in order to graduate in two years. This was no easy task, but my counselor and professors worked with me and met with me outside class and were always available over email and helped me graduate in my desired time frame. Most professors were even available to help me in a class that was not even theirs. I took valuable and interesting classes such as “Time Series and Forecasting,” “Regression,” “Sampling Techniques,” “Non-Parametric Methods, ”Compounding Interest and Investments,” and many other fun and challenging classes. Through these classes I learned to think analytically, to design experiments, use of different statistical software, and how to draw conclusions from data. I am unique and confident about my future because of the major that I graduated with from UCSB.

Internships and Job Search: During my career at UCSB I was also a member and President of the UCSB Lacrosse team. During this internship I was in charge of a $220,000 budget and worked intimately with our finances, fundraising, organization, networking, communication, scheduling, and traveling. During this time, I also made an effort to conduct my own research project within the sport of lacrosse. Dr. Feldman allowed me to do a research internship project where I researched two conferences in NCAA Division I lacrosse, and applied my knowledge as a Statistical Science major. I used techniques of sampling, regression, and forecasting to create a model to predict the outcome of a lacrosse game based on variables in the game. I use this example in job interviews to show my ability to create project and draw valuable conclusions from the numbers. During my job search process I interviewed at a few companies and was hired as a Jr. Risk Analyst at a credit card processing company.

My Job: I am a Jr. Risk Analyst at a credit card processing company in downtown Santa Barbara. In my job I review all types of financial documents such as Bank Statements, Balance Sheets, Profit and Losses, Merchant Statements, and other financial documentation from many businesses all across America in order to determine the risk associated with the company. I analyze prior merchant statements that a company had with their previous processor and I make savings reports to give back to the company that applied with us so that they can see their savings and future charges if they sign with us. I analyze financial documents to forecast the best credit card limits to put on a new merchant signing with us and personally interact with many business owners a day discussing limits and accepting payment for their business. Essentially, at age 22, I am becoming an expert on financial documentation, interacting with many business owners on a day to day business, setting credit card limits for these businesses, maintaining their accounts with us as needed for as long as they are with us, determining our company’s risk on these accounts, and enjoying Santa Barbara. I am very thankful to UCSB for preparing me, but more so the PSTAT Department and especially Dr. Feldman and Ms. Arce.

How UCSB Prepared me for my job: UCSB prepared me for my job in many different ways. On the academic side, Dr. Carter and Dr. Ichiba were incredibly instrumental in my learning. I don’t think they know how much impact they had on me but I am so thankful to have taken classes with them. Dr. Carter taught me to use the statistical software R, to analyze data and how to conduct a full experiment in “Time Series and Forecasting.” He also taught me to think critically in “Non-Parametric Methods” and really showed me how to use statistics in a real setting. He was a fair teacher and more than helpful. I took “Compounding Interest and Investments” with Dr. Ichiba and learned much about financial mathematics. What I valued the most about Dr. Ichiba was how much he cared about the students and I was able to bring questions to him from other classes or independent classes and he always helped me and responded to emails. He helped me over the summer when he was not teaching to study for an actuarial exam and is so knowledgeable and helpful. Aside from the teachers, the curriculum prepared me as well to think analytically. As more of a cultural learning experience, the hastiness of trying to graduate in two years taught me time management and dedication. I learned how to learn and set goals and work hard to accomplish those goals. I am very proud of what I have accomplished and I am so thankful to the PSTAT department and staff.

Advice to other students: My advice to students thinking about majoring in Statistical Science is to use to not be scared of limitation. When I started out I thought that I was confined to either the actuarial route or biological statistical route. Those are both great career paths but there is so much data out there that needs to be analyzed in marketing, sales, and many other fields. My thought process is that if I can learn the numbers behind the business, then I can keep moving up in the ranks because of my knowledge and manipulation of the data that people with other degrees simply cannot comprehend. Also, on campus, use your resources. We have great professors that care about the students. Use them all the time!

David Graham

Class of 2012


David Graham graduated from UCSB in June 2012, and has worked as an Actuarial Analyst at Towers Watson in San Francisco since. He enjoys working on the consulting side because it allows him to be exposed to the many aspects of the business and further develop his skill set. He is constantly learning on the job; he attends meetings to learn about new legislature and stay updated with his field. His advice to freshman/sophomores: “It is never too early to get involved with the actuary club and meet fellow students in the major. Having a network of friends going through the same things is an asset that will remain valuable long after sharing textbooks, discussing projects, and making the most of UCSB is a concern. Attend the clubs info-sessions; these are excellent opportunities to learn about the profession. Not to mention, many of the companies who visit campus send the same individuals every year. It's a good opportunity to make a good impression with someone you may be interviewing for a job with in a year or two.” His advice to juniors/seniors: “Pass exams. Find opportunities to work with Excel. Use the Business Writing requirement as an opportunity to fine-tune a resume, and don't shy away from opportunities to have it critiqued. When interviewing, keep in mind that beyond the „can you do the job?? question, the interviewer wants to know if you're someone they might want to work with. It may be worthwhile to ask about social activities you enjoy.”

Advice to other students: My advice to students thinking about majoring in Statistical Science is to use to not be scared of limitation. When I started out I thought that I was confined to either the actuarial route or biological statistical route. Those are both great career paths but there is so much data out there that needs to be analyzed in marketing, sales, and many other fields. My thought process is that if I can learn the numbers behind the business, then I can keep moving up in the ranks because of my knowledge and manipulation of the data that people with other degrees simply cannot comprehend. Also, on campus, use your resources. We have great professors that care about the students. Use them all the time!

Andrew Mackenzie

Class of 2013


Thanks to UCSB, and the statistics department in particular, I must have had one of the best college experiences possible. Some of the highlights include: passing 3 actuarial exams, studying abroad in Denmark and Australia, doing graduate research as an undergraduate and presenting it at the Actuarial Research Conference, living on the beach, and, of course, starting out on a great career path.

The actuarial program was a large part of the reason why I decided to enroll at UCSB. I wanted to choose a school that would help me in my career; and, due to my love of numbers, the actuarial career path seemed like a great place to start looking for a major and a career. Thanks to AP classes, I was able to take my first upper division stats class, PSTAT 120A, my 2nd quarter. It was quite a challenge, and the next class, 120B, challenged me even more. However, it was good preparation, and with the help of the actuarial tutorial class and a lot of independent study, I was able to pass my first actuarial exam in the spring quarter of my freshman year. Passing this exam so early on in my academic career opened a lot of doors for me, and it helped me secure a consulting internship with one of the leading actuarial firms. During the fall quarter of my second year I studied abroad at the Australian National University. They have a fantastic actuarial program, and I encourage any stats student to consider studying abroad at the ANU or the University of Melbourne. When I was at the ANU, I took a behavioral economics class which was by far the most enjoyable course I have ever taken. Hence, I decided to add economics as my second major. I have learned that it is good to have an idea of what you want to do, but never get so locked into one thing that you close all the other doors around you. 

My third year I decided to study abroad again – this time in Denmark. I took no actuarial classes and just focused on having fun, traveling, and studying economics. This was probably the best six months of my life; but, I still missed the perfect weather and pristine coast of Santa Barbara. The summer between my 3rd and 4th year, I again interned with the same firm but in health and group benefits consulting as opposed to retirement.

A retirement actuary monitors the liabilities associated with defined benefit pension plans. The government requires every DB plan to be reviewed by an actuary to confirm its feasibility. You are pretty much predicting how much retirement money you will need to pay out to all of a company’s retirees (and future retirees) over the course of the next decades. My second internship, and where I have decided to start my career, was in health and group benefits consulting. In this business, we work with employers to optimize their health plans. We want to get the best coverage at the lowest cost. Many of our clients’ plans are self-insured which means that the company takes on all the risk associated with their health plans. An actuary quantifies this risk and tells the employer what to expect and what their options are under the current rules and regulations. Of course, with health care reform, the industry is dynamically changing, and it is a very exciting time to be in health care consulting. Some health consulting practices are composed entirely of actuaries while others have very few actuaries on staff. Currently, my team is about half actuarial. 

Retirement consulting is the largest actuarial consulting line of business, and if you choose to pursue consulting over insurance, this is likely where you will end up. I chose health over retirement for a number of reasons, and I feel blessed to be where I am at today. I am very grateful for my experiences at UCSB and for everything that the statistics department did to help me. If you are a prospective student, I wish you the best in choosing a school. If you are a current student, work hard and make UCSB proud! Feel free to reach out to me with questions; or, you can always post a question on the UCSB actuarial page on Facebook.

Actuarial Science Students Speak

Wenyi Zhang (graduated Spring 2010). Future plan after graduation will be starting job NCCI, as an Actuarial Analyst in Florida. Favorite Statistics class was Regression Analysis because it is a very useful class and real life applied. And I love Dr. Hinkley! Favorite memory of being a statistics major is getting to meet both students and professors. UCSB Stat classes helped me a lot to pass actuarial exams. I was also able to meet great friends.

Cassandra Marks (graduated Spring 2010). Future Plans after graduation are to get a job as an actuarial analyst where I can apply my analytical and quantitative skills. My favorite statistics class was PSTAT 120C because I really enjoyed learning about all the different experimental designs and tests. I found Carter's lecture style very interesting. My favorite part of being a statistics major was being challenged by professors with interesting problems, especially the real application of Time Series, and Regression Analysis projects. This is a fantastic major that puts your problem solving skills tot he test and offers a lot of different opportunities when you graduate.

Frederick Kwan (graduated in June 2008). Future plan after graduation, by day, I'll be working as an actuarial analyst at Watson Wyatt Worldwide, but at night I'll be moonlighting as a devoted student diligently studying actuarial exams. Favorite Statistics class was PSTAT 120ABC, 122, 126, 171, 172ABC, 174, 160AB…oh wait, that's everything I took. Favorite memory of being a statistics major is preparing for the actuarial exams and class midterms at the same time. It was a fun game of "balance my time" and taught me valuable time management skills. Encourages statistics students to be confident. You'll often find that you're better/faster/stronger/smarter/ than you think you are. (Except as a Statistics major, you're probably not as cool as you wish you were).

Andrew Lin (graduated in June 2008). Future plan after graduation, I will be interning in Taiwan at the Academica Sinica Institute of Statistical Science. Afterwards, I hope to travel to Hong Kong or other International cities and perhaps find something I might be interested in. Favorite Statistics class was PSTAT 174, 172B because I have fond memories in study groups, and working on projects. Encourages students to choose Statistics as a major, because it's easier than math and engineering and it's more practical. Stats is useful for the outside world.

Shannon Erdmann (graduated in June 2004). Future plan after graduation will be starting job as Assistant Actuarial Analyst at Fireman's Fund Insurance Company located in Novato, CA. Favorite Statistics class was Time Series and Linear Regression, because it's really interesting to learn how to fit real world events into statistical models. Favorite memory of being a statistics major is gotten to know everybody in the department because it's such a small major, and it's like having a family where everyone is related by statistics. Encourages statistic students to STUDY! Start taking the actuarial exams as soon as possible. The process of finding a job will be a lot easier, with one exam done.

Kingsley Robson (graduated in 2004) Future plans after graduation are vacation pending exam results, then job search. Favorite Statistics class was PSTAT 171, because the course covered interest theory and it was a useful topic. Favorite memory of being a statistics major is the satisfaction of challenging myself intellectually and succeeding. Encourages statistic students study for exams early, because the exams often fall close to midterms.

Jenni Bjelland (graduated in 2004) Future plans after graduation are working as an Actuarial Technician at WellPoint in Woodland Hills. Favorite memory of being a statistics major is the day after the Actuary exams. Encourages studying early for the Acuary Exams.

Wilson Chen (graduated 2004) Future plans after graduation is to find a job in the actuary field and hopefully pass all Society of Actuaries exams. Favorite Statistics course was PSTAT 130 because I enjoy working with computers and this class ties in the use of computers to data collection and analyzing. Favorite memory of being a statistics major was meeting other students that are interested in the field and being able to study for exams with them. Some wisdom, the hardest part of the profession are the exams and don’t worry, “work should not be too similar to the exams.”

Weihiba Kalifa (graduated in 1997, Assistant Actuary, 23 years old). "Its good background to take the Actuarial classes at UCSB to prepare for the exams. There is a shortage of casualty actuaries卼here is a higher need than ever before. My employer will give $3,000 to whoever brings in a new actuary."

Richard Paul (graduated in 1991, Associate of the Society of Actuaries). "I became interested in becoming an Actuary after I went to a talk on campus during the recession. The speaker explained how the Actuarial career was recession proof. I did well on the exams. Most of the information taught at UCSB prepared me for about ?of the Associate level exams. The trick to being a good Actuary is not only to be able to do the technical work, but also be able to explain it to someone who doesn't understand it. It takes strong communication skills." 

George Shehata (graduated in 1999, 1997-99 UCSB Actuarial Club President). "When I interned at Transamerica, they gave me responsibility right away. We were testing data for a new product and there was a lot of problem-solving involved. There was much prestige associated with being an Actuary. The field isn't exclusive to men only. My co-workers were Asian Americans, African Americans, men and women. It really helps to be a Statistics major at UCSB in becoming an Actuary. I feel that UCSB did a good job of preparing me for the working world, although a lot of the knowledge I need is acquired on the job."

Diane Pedersen Amarante (graduated in 1992, Fellow, Society of Actuaries). "Some of my friends who graduated at the same time as I did and had majored in areas such as environmental studies and sociology, could not find jobs after graduation. I had my job in December even before I graduated in June. After graduation it took 5 years on the job for me to become a "Fellow"; usually it takes between 5 and 10 years. I am still working on the same job I took when I graduated and I still love it. What I like most about being an actuary is that I get to do a lot of technical problem-solving. I really do use what I learned at UCSB in Dr. Hsu's class. I had such a good time at UCSB. The department was small and friendly and everyone knew everyone else!"

Elizabeth Hutchins (graduated in 1999, BA Statistics, age 31, mother of 3). Elizabeth received over 7 job offers from prestigious companies several months beforegraduating. "The Department of Statistics at UCSB really prepared me to become an Actuary. The projects and assignments they gave us at UCSB are exactly what they (the interviewers) required. I strongly advise students to specialize in something! My friends who received Math degrees are having a harder time getting a job. With a Math degree, the employers know that you have aptitude, but do you have the skills? With the Statistics/Actuarial major, the employer has less doubt. When interviewing with Capital One in Richmond, VA, I was the only candidate for the position without a Masters' degree. After I went through 5 interviews, 2 exams, and 1 simulation, I was chosen. I am currently working on some profiling, analysis and building my first models. It's challenging but exciting and I feel fairly well prepared. 

Shawn Wright (graduated in 1997, Assistant Actuary Analyst. "I really like the Actuary career because it's so stable and the entry pay levels are just great! My co-workers and I, we look at our salary and we laugh! When I started working as an actuary, I was given responsibility right away. They don't just give you bogus work because you're new. As for the Actuarial career, its so stable. I think that's the difference between Engineering, for example, and the Actuary position. In California, Engineers recently experienced huge layoffs. I did not want a job where, after working for 20 years, I might be laid off. It's (Actuary) a very stable job. My employer has never laid-off any Actuaries."