Yaci Chen (left) and Julie Eng from the Risk Management and Insurance Club.
Stony Brook University faculty members Michael Nugent and Danielle McHeffey send a clear message to students: Risk management and insurance are an area of unlimited promise and great appeal.
With baby boomers no longer working in the workplace, insurance has become a coveted commodity. Positions are opened at all levels, from executives to entry-level positions.
Nugent, a finance lecturer, and McHeffey, an additional faculty member who also teaches finance, took turns taking classes on the same subject at the College of Business for the past two semesters. The two want to add additional courses to the curriculum in the future.
McHeffey said that managers of large commercial insurance agencies in the New York area are constantly struggling to find new talent to hire and train for the commercial insurance world. Fortunately, the Insurance Agents and Brokers Foundation reached out to McHeffey to put together a course and curriculum, and they realized that this would be the perfect vehicle for introducing students to an expanding industry.
“It’s about getting younger people who are still in college thinking about careers in the insurance industry that touch every area of our lives and business,” she said. “We really need to open people’s eyes to what jobs are available and how they fit into one of those career paths.”
Degrees in finance, human resources, business communications, marketing, psychology, math, accounting and other fields have a place in this field, she said, adding that insurance jobs are typically paid more than other industries.
Nugent added that another attraction is that the global economy requires sophisticated risk-monitoring skills, particularly under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a law passed in 2002 that helps protect investors from fraudulent corporate financial reporting.
The proximity of Stony Brook to New York City is also ideal. “New York City is the epicenter of the risk management and insurance industry and is a priority for these professionals nationwide,” said Nugent.
To give the students an idea of the real world, McHeffey brought speakers into the classes to share their expertise.
Jiyun Yuh, Senior Vice President and Director of Risk Management at Epic Brokers, defined risk management and spoke about careers in risk management and claims. Tim Dodge, Vice President Research and Information at Big I New York, discussed current events in the insurance industry and current legislative issues. Joe Laimo, second vice president at Travelers, has focused on operating insurance carriers as well as careers and internships.
Julie Eng ’21, Major in Business Management, sensed a growing interest in this area and founded the Risk Management and Insurance Club – with inspiration and guidance from Nugent.
Last year, Nugent pioneered the idea of creating a risk management and insurance club after announcing plans to teach a new class on the subject.
“I’ve been interested in risk management since I took an investment analysis class. However, with Stony Brook not offering courses or organizations focused on risk management and insurance, it was difficult to get more information about the industry, ”said Eng. “I think it is important for any business student to have a better understanding of the area of risk management. The ability to understand and evaluate risk is vital to the life of any business. “
As an early barometer of its popularity, the club has already attracted 132 members, not just business majors, but students specializing in math and economics and other fields – and that was before the spring semester sessions began.
Nugent said the club’s purpose is fivefold:
- Promoting and recruiting risk management and insurance professionals to speak and provide employment advice to students;
• Improve understanding of risk management and insurance through presentations at club meetings;
• Providing a channel of professional networking opportunities for students with risk and insurance practitioners;
• Providing a forum for students to discuss the applications of risk management and insurance;
• Partnership with community programs that support risk management and insurance policies.
Nugent said many students overlook the risk management and insurance industries as careers because they don’t like the sound of it.
“It sounds boring; It sounds like you’re knocking on doors, ”he said. “However, the industry can offer meaningful and rewarding careers and the club aims to provide information and opportunities for students to better understand the industry.”
For business major Tony Fu ’22, the club is a great opportunity to network and meet with industry professionals. “I look forward to learning more about these areas and I look forward to the events we have this semester,” said Fu.
Yaci Chen ’21, a major in corporate governance / economics, said this area is all about managing risk. This will give you the confidence you need to make a decision as you can evaluate different options.
Nugent said you only have to look at the headlines to see that risk management and insurance play a prominent role throughout our lives.
“Every day there is a story big and small about risk management, from weather debacles, stock market crashes, business failures due to falling energy demand and product prices associated with international currency fluctuations,” said Nugent. “Every business student needs to know more about risk management and insurance for career opportunities and personal financial planning.”
– Glenn Jochum