Next generation talent modernizes operations in the insurance industry

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Co-op students working at Economical Insurance

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world changed and so did the insurance industry. Faced with rapid digital transformation, the industry scrambled to recruit talent with the technical skills needed to tackle new challenges.

For Economical Insurance, fresh perspectives and technical skills of University of Waterloo co-op students made tackling these challenges easier. The organization hired students in roles that included actuarial analyst, technology business coordinator, project coordinator, data science analyst and most recently a human resources co-op.

“Co-op students bring a deep sense of intellectual curiosity, creativity and analytical skills,” says Melanie Fernandez, HR partner. “We recently hired an Arts student in our department who’s demonstrated a high degree of technical proficiency to support huge transformational projects, economical coordinating and operationalizing support.”

With the increased demand on human resources during COVID-19, their co-op student has been able to support workplace planning and return to work initiatives as well.

Why work in the insurance industry?

Economical Insurance logo and photo of their office

Here are Economical Insurance's three tips on what makes insurance an exciting field:

1) REWARDING EXPERIENCE: You support customers during some of the most challenging times of their lives. It’s socially meaningful work.

2) CHALLENGING AND EVOLVING WORK: The industry is fast evolving with different challenges and opportunities to explore. Year-over-year the industry changes and adapts, especially with technology.

3) HELPING TO STABILIZE THE ECONOMY The insurance industry is a staple to the economy, ensuring businesses have support during disasters, accidents and a global pandemic.

 

New opportunities for technical skills

The opportunities for co-op students are growing with an increase in actuarial and data science roles.  “Five years ago, nobody had heard of big data analyst and data scientist roles,” says Anping Wang, manager of economic capital modelling. “Now, technological advancements have gone beyond the theoretical stage. Computing power now transforms what took us three weeks to do, in one hour. More digital-driven opportunities will only continue to emerge.”

For Anping, hiring Waterloo co-op students is a no-brainer as they come from top-notch programs and have great initiative. He has hired many math students to tackle consumer protection, risk management and advanced analytical modelling.

“I hired a student who taught herself the SQL programming language and was able to integrate that with Excel VBA which automated our processes and simplified the user interface,” he said. “That reduced the time needed for this task. She was a great co-op that we hired full time following her graduation. This is the quality of students you get from Waterloo.”

Attracting next generation talent

Recognizing the competition in acquiring top young talent, Economical Insurance offers many incentives. “Diversity and inclusion are a critical part of our business imperative and you see that demonstrated,” says Fernandez. “Virtual talent acquisition will be more of a mainstay for us as well with video interviews.”

They also offer a rotation program so students and interns can work in different areas of the business. This allows them to discover what they are most passionate about. 

“It’s a very exciting time to be in the insurance industry. Here at Economical there is a lot of modernization and transformation. We have accelerated our approach to digitizing in customer experience, human resources, marketing, business and actuarial,” Wang added.


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