Blog Post

Flexibility in the Process

3 minutes

Pinnacle Actuarial Resources created and manages Pinnacle University, a special development program designed for university students to explore emerging topics in the insurance industry and actuarial profession. 

Pinnacle University (Pinnacle U) is a complex program to pull off. Designing, planning and executing an event like Pinnacle U, usually requires a lot of flexibility in the process. This year, however, required a higher level of flexibility than we might have ever expected.

Pinnacle U is an immersive, in-person symposium at which students, professionals, panelists and participants meet and spend the day discovering and debating important actuarial issues of the day. 

Many of the panelists, university participants, stakeholders and other attendees who attend the annual, once-a-year Pinnacle U event don’t always see the efforts behind the process or experience our focus on the long-term management, success and impact of the program.

We strive to make the Pinnacle U program a unique, meaningful and valuable experience for participating university students and Pinnacle’s contributors. Our commitment to that experience culminates in high-value presentations and rewarding Pinnacle U events, year after year.

It was a challenge to plan and present Pinnacle U in 2020. That was due, of course, to the impact of COVID-19 and the decision of businesses and universities to work and study remotely. For Pinnacle U planners, our task was to deliver another high-quality Pinnacle U without an in-person event experience. 

The initial decision to cancel the usual in-person Pinnacle U presentations came after much discussion by the Pinnacle U planning committee and Pinnacle’s leadership. Our goal was to maintain the value of the experience with alternative options to the in-person presentation. Our discussions focused on offering different options, based on each participant’s various circumstances. 

The following options were offered for the groups to pursue:

  • A virtual Pinnacle U presentation 
  • A blog post discussing their Pinnacle U topic
  • A job shadow for the university student at a later date

So far, two groups participating in Pinnacle U chose to deliver the presentation virtually.

“To Some Arbitrary n, and Beyond!,” and was delivered by Pinnacle analysts Steve Jagodzinski and Taylor Daigle and Illinois State University (ISU) student Mani Venkateswaran. 

“Michigan’s Auto Insurance Reform,” was presented by Pinnacle analyst Mitch Caster and ISU student Kyle Stablein. 

Much of the value of Pinnacle U is that it is an extraordinary opportunity for students and recent Pinnacle hires to get real-world experience of researching and delivering a professional-level presentation. 

They also get to have their presentations received by and discussed with panelists from the industry. Pinnacle U is geared to facilitate that process. 

Prior to the virtual presentation, content was peer reviewed by one of Pinnacle’s senior staff and a dry run presentation was done. The dry run was an opportunity for the group to get comfortable with the virtual presentation experience, which is very different than an in-person presentation. This was done with a variety of Pinnacle employees assisting: marketing, IT, Pinnacle U planning committee and group mentors. Following some discussion on refining the presentation, the group was ready to go live.

These are unprecedented times and most people’s calendars have gone out the window, so to speak. We thank those external experts (in addition to Pinnacle’s staff of experts) who contributed to the virtual presentation. In attendance were representatives from Illinois State University, the Casualty Actuarial Society and other actuarial professionals from across the Midwest. Attendees participated in dialogue and asked the group questions using through the functionality of Pinnacle’s web-based platform. The team delivered an outstanding presentation on a modeling topic with terrific participation from a virtual audience.

The current environment created by the pandemic has brought challenges for all of society, including businesses and universities. There have been many adaptations to the new normal and it has forced us all to become more flexible. Our Pinnacle U program was no different. Presenters, panelists, planners and all participants stepped up and helped deliver a high quality Pinnacle U experience for everyone involved. 

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