John Doe

Viki Knapp
Viki Knapp
Track: Broadcast Meteorology Graduated: December 2016
What is your current job and main responsibilities?
I am a Meteorologist who has stumbled into the realm of Insurance. I currently work at American Family Insurance, a private mutual company that focuses primarily on property, casualty, commercial, and auto insurance. I work at their corporate headquarters based out of Madison, Wisconsin. I am a Catastrophe Management Analyst and am part of the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) division. Essentially, I model the enterprise book of business using sophisticated catastrophe models in order to assess exposures to major natural perils. My main responsibilities include overseeing and performing catastrophe modeling analyses using models such as RMS-RiskLink, AIR-Touchstone, and proprietary, in-house models. This work includes the assessment of data input, model set-up, model execution, result extraction and analytics. In addition, I communicate key model fundamentals including, but not limited to, hazard, vulnerability, and financial model components to analysts, directors, and executives across different lines of business. The overall goal is to help make better-informed business decisions on new business optimization and pricing for new and existing business. In addition, I create and distribute daily weather / natural peril reports that highlight the risks and exposures across the enterprise. Honestly, I absolutely love my job and one of the aspects that I enjoy the most is that no two days are the same. We routinely receive ad-hoc projects that keep the work interesting and diverse. I work side-by-side with actuaries, underwriters, and other insurance professionals.
Tell us about your MPS internship
Internships were not unfamiliar to me, I've had six over the course of my academic career. Each one helped identify aspects that I wanted, or didn't want in my future career. Locating my host organization required honest effort, but I was fortunate to have interned at one of the world's largest reinsurers, Munich Reinsurance America in Princeton, New Jersey. What is reinsurance you ask? Well simply stated, reinsurance is insurance for other insurance companies and without it, insurance would likely not exist. The main purpose of reinsurance is to help reduce exposures to loss by passing part of the risk of loss from the insurer to the reinsurer.  My six month internship had me split between two different areas, Catastrophe Management & Strategic Products. Overall, my work included the testing and validation of a recently licensed flood model to determine model flood frequency and severity against historical data. Additionally, I helped develop metrics using GIS software to support the analyses of portfolio penetration, eligibility of locations, determination of premium potential, and risk budget utilization. The metrics were used to support marketing discussions with client companies. Overall, my internship experience was a tremendous success and provided me with real-life work experiences that were pivotal to my current employment.
What were your favorite classes at RSMAS and why?
Every class that I took while at RSMAS offered value to me, whether it was in the content itself or in the way I had to apply myself to succeed. However, if I have to pick favorites, I would choose Introduction to Marine Geographic Information Systems (GIS), taught by Maria Estevanez. GIS is a tool that I thoroughly enjoy and use almost every day at work. As a Meteorologist, I naturally deal a lot with maps and data, so being able to convey information via maps is interesting, informative, and fun. My next favorite class was Physics of Remote Sensing I - Passive Systems, taught by Dr. Peter Minnett, Dr. Roland Romeiser, and Dr. Hans Graber. As difficult of a course as this was for me, I enjoyed it because of how passionate the professors were in the subject and at their ability to teach it. Overall, there really was not a course in my track that I did not find interesting, they all were great
What is your favorite RSMAS memory?
My most significant RSMAS memory was the day of my final presentation. As nervous as I was to present, the sense of satisfaction and relief from finally being done was unparalleled. Adding to the experience, I had recently accepted my role at American Family Insurance, so knowing that it was next in line was extremely exciting. In addition, the friends I made and the times spent together on and off campus made my overall experience at RSMAS a great one.
What piece of advice would you give to current or incoming MPS students?
Never settle for mediocrity and always apply yourself to your fullest capacity. Focus on your studies, but don't forget to make time for yourself, your family and friends. As prestigious as RSMAS and the University of Miami as a whole may be, do not simply rely on that to get you where you need to go. In my opinion and in my own experiences, networking was just as important as where I studied and how I performed. Something as simple as knowing the right person can open up many doors of opportunity, as was in my case. Never be afraid to ask questions and admit that you do not know something. Graduate school made me realize how much I did not know, therefore it is important that you never stop learning and that you always look to advance yourself within your field! Your education does not stop once you receive your diploma, it is a life-long process that must continually be built upon. Lastly, do not delay in seeking out your internship opportunity and don't be discouraged when and if you are rejected. Just believe in yourself and you will make it happen!