I met them at the Tuesday sunset reception held for attendees of NCCI’s Annual Insights Symposium. The Orlando weather was picture perfect for the outdoor dinner, perfectly fitting the evening theme, which was “Florida Nights.” A friend, a board member for a peachy southern state regulatory agency who we will call Manny (people who associate with me seem to appreciate the benefit of anonymity for some reason), and I passed through one of the buffet lines before sitting at a table. We were joined shortly by his state’s two other board members, Moe and Jackie. 

Across the table from us were four people, a man, and three women. Three of them were from Seattle, and one was from Iowa. They were wearing the Panama hats that NCCI was distributing that evening as part of the themed dinner. All of them work for the same company, which we will not identify but for purposes of this story will call Miberty Lutual. 

I really should write spy novels, given my mastery of intrigue. 

We struck up a conversation with our new dinner companions, who when asked what they did for Miberty Lutual told me “We work with data.” Ok. Clearly more pressing questions needed to be asked here. As the conversation progressed, we learned that 3 of them were Actuaries for Miberty, while one was a Data Scientist. I asked them what the difference was. The answer, considering they were actuaries, seemed a bit unclear. Pressing further, asking if the most significant difference was in the pay scale, did not seem to clear up the issue. There apparently was not a sufficient data sample with which to make a determination with any level of statistical confidence. 

Ultimately, I think we determined the difference lay in the educational backgrounds of the people in question.

There were several things that stood out for me with this group. All of them were brand new to workers’ comp, and like everyone else in the industry, they had no idea how they got here. They were all younger than Manny, Moe, Jackie, and I, with two of them appearing to be not too many years out of college. In fact, they all looked us directly in the eye when speaking, which, coming from actuaries, I found to be a bit unsettling. Ah, youth. That must be the difference. One of those two, the data scientist, was probably exceptionally bright, as her last name told me she likely came from outstanding lineage. 

Or was a distant cousin. Whichever.

The four of them learned from my dinner mates about the intricacies of workers’ compensation in one southern state, while I offered a broader welcome to the industry. They seemed a bit surprised to be told that once you are in workers’ comp, you are here for life. Workers’ compensation is a lot like the song Hotel California, where you can check out any time you like, but you can never, ever, leave. 

In all seriousness, we had a much more encompassing discussion with this group. It resonated with me, as they represented a newer generation in workers’ compensation, bringing energy and strong dedication to their jobs. They were symbolic of the type of young people we need to attract, as many in the workers’ compensation industry are facing the twilight of their careers. 

And hats off to Miberty Lutual for sending them to AIS. Too often the younger members of our industry aren’t given the opportunity to attend such events, and that stifles professional growth and advancement. These conferences are a great place to learn and make connections that will last a lifetime. And it just goes to show, that you never know what will happen when three actuaries and a data scientist walk into a conference.

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