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  #1  
Old 04-11-2019, 10:22 PM
dualang dualang is offline
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Default Question: Gaining industry exposure for an academic

Hi all,

I am currently working at a university in NA. I started this job since last fall. Before that I didn't have any education/experience in NA. I finished my PhD and worked in a university after that in other continents. I've been taking SOA exams on the QFI track. Now I've passed all exams/modules except for DMAC. My research is focused on life insurance and a little bit of pension. My strength is data analytics and numerical analysis (simulations, etc). I never worked in industry before.

My question was, as a junior researcher (assistant professor) with little experience in North America, can I possibly get some exposure to industry? The reason why I was interested is that I think actuarial research should be practical and relevant to the industry, rather than building models with unnecessarily complicated mathematics to please my peer reviewers, most of whom have probably 0 knowledge about the industry. (I have some publications and tenure should not be a problem for me, so I guess I know what research papers look like in this field.) I am happy with my job in academia, but I meanwhile just wanted to do something in the life insurance sector --- either with insurance companies or consulting firms. I would be happy to work on any research-related projects, or just normal projects that industry people do. I am not a native speaker, but my English is ok.

Shall I take the initiative to approach the insurance companies or consultant firms in the city? And if so, any advice on increasing my likelihood of success? I know industry provides quite a lot of fellowship, and sometimes sponsors professorships, but is there really a need for collaboration with academia from the industry side?

Thanks

Last edited by dualang; 04-11-2019 at 11:37 PM..
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  #2  
Old 04-15-2019, 09:46 PM
Pusee Pionkorff Pusee Pionkorff is offline
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Whoa, you're almost an FSA and you haven't worked in industry? That's pretty interesting. Also interesting that your research is in life insurance and pension, but you're taking exams in the QFI track. If you're into quant finance, then you could probably get a sweet job at a bank making big bucks. Banks love people with Ph.D.s

I also did my Ph.D. in math, but I decided to go the data science route after subsisting on a crappy sessional instructor job for a few years after finishing my Ph.D. I recently interviewed for a data science position at a bank and all 3 of my interviewers had math Ph.D.s.
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  #3  
Old 04-15-2019, 09:53 PM
Pusee Pionkorff Pusee Pionkorff is offline
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Got the job too. Now I'm gonna brag about it every chance I get.
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  #4  
Old 04-15-2019, 11:19 PM
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Maphisto's Sidekick Maphisto's Sidekick is offline
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I'm writing from a P&C perspective. I don't know the extent to which this would be true on the Life side.

Several P&C carriers in the US and Canada have research relationships with academic institutions, opening the doors to projects like "hey Professor, we have this odd question that we can't answer internally; would you be interested in a contract to help us answer it?" or "hey Professor, some of that work you're doing sounds interesting; could we meet so that we can learn a little more and possibly offer some thoughts and points you might wish to consider?". Details and logistics for such can and will vary.

You might try networking through SOA functions. If you make your interest known to the right person, or if you hear of some interesting work being done that might inform your own research activities, there might be an opportunity there...although there will be a need to be mindful of trade secret concerns and intellectual property rights.
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  #5  
Old 04-15-2019, 11:48 PM
kevinykuo kevinykuo is offline
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Can you code?
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  #6  
Old 04-16-2019, 08:25 AM
drintam drintam is offline
 
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One possibility is to have a good actuarial student and initiate some kind of "student project" type of experience in your university with a life insurance company. The student does the project that this company is interested in, under their and your supervision. You will gain exposure to the "real world".

Or you can apply to work as a summer intern since you don't teach during the summer (I assumed).
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  #7  
Old 04-16-2019, 08:42 AM
nonlnear nonlnear is offline
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Originally Posted by drintam View Post
One possibility is to have a good actuarial student and initiate some kind of "student project" type of experience in your university with a life insurance company. The student does the project that this company is interested in, under their and your supervision. You will gain exposure to the "real world".

Or you can apply to work as a summer intern since you don't teach during the summer (I assumed).
This is aiming too low. A tenure track professor should be looking for industry grants/sponsorships/partnerships/consulting/etc. Getting tenure is about checking the mandatory publication boxes, and, more importantly, bringing research dollars in the door.

Taking on undergrad student projects is for after tenure.

OP, talk to your university's research liaison office or whatever they call it, and get an understanding of how they can help you structure corporate relationships for projects in a way that will help you achieve your goals. They should have some fill in the blank contracts, and will be able to put you in contact with other profs who do corporate partnerships and consulting under the university umbrella. It will still be on you to seek out specific opportunities to work with industry, but the university should be able to help you understand the process after you find a promising lead. They will want a cut, and if you are happy to remain on tenure track, you should be happy to let them have their pound of flesh. Terms can get better after you have tenure and have built some industry relationships.

Last edited by nonlnear; 04-16-2019 at 09:36 AM..
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  #8  
Old 04-16-2019, 01:24 PM
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Helena Lake Helena Lake is offline
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So... you've got a PhD and you're almost a Fellow, and you have zero work experience?

My recommendation would be to stay in academia, try to find a role in a school that has an actuarial science track, and reach out to the SOA. Get involved with research, and growth of the field.
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  #9  
Old 04-16-2019, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dualang View Post
Hi all,

I am currently working at a university in NA. I started this job since last fall. Before that I didn't have any education/experience in NA. I finished my PhD and worked in a university after that in other continents. I've been taking SOA exams on the QFI track. Now I've passed all exams/modules except for DMAC. My research is focused on life insurance and a little bit of pension. My strength is data analytics and numerical analysis (simulations, etc). I never worked in industry before.

My question was, as a junior researcher (assistant professor) with little experience in North America, can I possibly get some exposure to industry? The reason why I was interested is that I think actuarial research should be practical and relevant to the industry, rather than building models with unnecessarily complicated mathematics to please my peer reviewers, most of whom have probably 0 knowledge about the industry. (I have some publications and tenure should not be a problem for me, so I guess I know what research papers look like in this field.) I am happy with my job in academia, but I meanwhile just wanted to do something in the life insurance sector --- either with insurance companies or consulting firms. I would be happy to work on any research-related projects, or just normal projects that industry people do. I am not a native speaker, but my English is ok.

Shall I take the initiative to approach the insurance companies or consultant firms in the city? And if so, any advice on increasing my likelihood of success? I know industry provides quite a lot of fellowship, and sometimes sponsors professorships, but is there really a need for collaboration with academia from the industry side?

Thanks
On the pension side there are several industry groups that regularly publish papers and there are research grants offered by a number of different "think tanks". I don't necessarily know how that works, but it might be a start.

I will also send you a PM because my agency occasionally writes white papers/does research that I think could benefit from having some input/help from an academic.
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  #10  
Old 04-18-2019, 12:33 PM
dualang dualang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pusee Pionkorff View Post
Whoa, you're almost an FSA and you haven't worked in industry? That's pretty interesting. Also interesting that your research is in life insurance and pension, but you're taking exams in the QFI track. If you're into quant finance, then you could probably get a sweet job at a bank making big bucks. Banks love people with Ph.D.s

I also did my Ph.D. in math, but I decided to go the data science route after subsisting on a crappy sessional instructor job for a few years after finishing my Ph.D. I recently interviewed for a data science position at a bank and all 3 of my interviewers had math Ph.D.s.
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Originally Posted by Pusee Pionkorff View Post
Got the job too. Now I'm gonna brag about it every chance I get.
Wow, good for you How do you like the job so far?

I took the SOA exams because many actuarial science programs are interested in faculty members with professional credentials. Nowadays many academic ads are very explicit that they require candidates with ASA/FSA or very close to getting the credentials.

I do a lot of data analytics, but I am not sure if I should pursue a job at a bank. It seems that I would waste all my efforts on the SOA exams then...
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