DePauw Representatives Join Global Risk Management Leaders at RISKWORLD 2024

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From May 5 to 8, DePauw representatives attended the RISKWORLD 2024 Conference in San Diego, CA. This event, organized annually by The Risk and Insurance Management Society for over 60 years, featured a diverse delegation from DePauw. The representatives included Professor of Business and Endowed Chair of Mathematical Sciences Zhixin Wu and students Gigi Nguyen ‘25, Nguyet (Lynnie) Le ‘26, Nga Nguyen ‘26, Connor Agler ‘26, and Zhiling Zhuang ‘27.

The conference bustled with over 10,000 attendees, 400 exhibitors, 300 speakers, and representatives from more than 30 countries. On Sunday, May 5, all participants were invited to attend Professional Development Pre-Conference Workshops, which lasted throughout the day. This was followed by the Opening Reception: Cinco De Mayo in the Gaslamp in the evening. The conference officially began the next day with a Networking Breakfast and the Opening Keynote, where Peter Diamandis, serial entrepreneur, futurist, technologist, spoke on the topic "The Future is Faster Than You Think."

Sharing about the first opening keynote on industry reinvention through developing technologies, Agler said it is relevant, thought-provoking, and interesting. “Peter Diamandis had an impressive presentation where he discussed ways in which we can reinvent insurance,” he said. “Instead of fire insurance paying after your house burns down or health insurance paying after you are sick, he posed a strategic question to his audience. What if insurance could actually prevent the bad stuff from happening in the first place?”

Wu shared that Diamandis struck a chord with his quote: “Our world is exponential ... and it's that difference between the way we think linearly that we need to be aware of”, and his insight inspired her to shift her own mindset to educate students in the future. This summer, she is going to read Diamandis’s book “The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives.”

The marketplace, which offered opportunities for sales, job recruitment, and graduate education, attracted significant attention from participants and was open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Agler considered the marketplace to be a great way to meet business leaders: “By stopping by some of their booths, I was able to meet people from different backgrounds. We were able to share stories and make connections that will be important for my career.”. 

Nga Nguyen shared: “The marketplace, though scary at first, turned out to be a great place to meet people. The conversations I made helped me feel more confident and gave me important insights about the industry that I am involved in.” 

Zhuang added: “In my exchanges with various professionals, I have deeply appreciated the importance of cross-field cooperation. In my discussions with cybersecurity experts in particular, I became aware of the challenges insurance companies face in terms of data protection and risk management, as well as how technology can improve the security and reliability of insurance products.”

Wu viewed the marketplace differently from the students: “One of the highlights of the marketplace at the conference was visiting company booths and showrooms, where representatives enthusiastically demonstrated how AI assists them in claim analysis, projecting claim amounts, detecting fraudulent claims, and designing risk mitigation strategies for clients,” she said. “Although I had read numerous articles about the impact of AI and new technologies on the insurance industry, it was truly fascinating to witness their practical applications firsthand.” 

DePauw representatives were invited to the Spencer-RIMS Risk Management Challenge Final Round, showcasing the presentations of the top 3 teams from Peking University, IIRM Hyderabad, and Illinois State University, which Nguyen found inspiring: “I got to see peers from around the world compete in the challenge. It showed how wide and collaborative our field is.” 

There were other sessions dedicated to education in risk management, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with engaging speed networking lunches. 

Zhuang said: “I attended several presentations, which allowed me to learn about the latest trends and cutting-edge technologies of the industry. Especially in sessions on communication with technology companies, I have learned a lot about the application of data analysis and artificial intelligence in the insurance field, which provides new ideas and directions for my professional study and research.”

As Spencer Grant recipients, Professor Wu and others were invited to the FM Global Resilience Truck Tour. Along with fellow Spencer Grant recipients, they learned about some of the key catastrophic hazards that businesses face. FM Global professionals explained ideas to prevent property losses before they occur, and attendees had the chance to try different loss prevention strategies at the flooding simulation demo stand. 

Representatives from DePauw University also got an invitation to meet with executives from AF Group, including Michelle McLane Noerenberg, senior vice president of Middle Market and National Accounts; Guy Couillard, managing director of National Accounts; and Jason Losen, manager of Business Development. They discussed students' experiences at the conference and received valuable industry insights and advice. AF Group highlighted what sets their business apart from other insurance companies, including their unique features, business intelligence, work culture, and team cooperation. 

About the meeting, Zhuang said: “One of the interesting parts of what we are discussing is how business intelligence can impact personalization. The AF group professionals emphasized the importance of developing strong analytical skills, proficiency in data analysis tools, and the ability to extract valuable insights from data to drive informed decision-making. The business leaders highlighted that expertise in business intelligence is highly valued by employers across various industries, enabling students to differentiate themselves and secure competitive positions.”

He also added that for students like him who haven’t entered the industry, the extensive application of business intelligence may encourage employees to continuously improve their abilities in data analysis and technology application, and cultivate a generation of data-driven talents. 

The attendance of DePauw representatives was made possible thanks to the Spencer Educational Foundation Course Development Grant funded by AF Group, the HHMI Grant from DePauw, and the support of Dr. John F. Clarke, dean of the School of Business and Leadership.

Reflecting on the overall experience at the conference, Le said: “The collaborative atmosphere of the conference facilitated a rich exchange of ideas, best practices, and emerging trends. This environment not only broadened my professional network but also provided practical insights that I am eager to implement in my own work. The experience was truly inspiring, underscoring the importance of continuous learning and adaptation in an ever-evolving industry.” 

Meanwhile, Wu shared: “The conference allowed me to have productive conversations and explore potential future collaborations with risk managers in different perspectives including the nontraditional insurance areas, risk engineering, environment, and safety. It was an enriching event that provided valuable perspectives and connections.” Wu said.

Zhuang also said: “Every part of the conference is full of learning opportunities. I benefited from each event, whether it was a keynote speech or a panel discussion. Discussing the latest technology trends and innovative applications with practitioners in technology companies, life and health companies, and insurance companies has opened my eyes to the wide range of applications of actuarial science in different fields.”

RISKWORLD 2025 will take place in Chicago in May 2025, offering DePauw students an exciting opportunity for a great experience in closer proximity to campus.