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Padraic Sheerin

Name: Padraic Sheerin
Job: Predictive Modeller, Allstate Northern Ireland

Subjects taken - Mathematics, Statistics & Operational Research

How would you describe a typical day in your current job?

There is no set routine with this job and tasks can vary widely from day-to-day. A typical day however would start by checking emails in the morning as my colleagues in the US will have been working when I was sleeping.

The next part of the day depends on what type of project you are working on. For a recent project titled "Price Elasticity of Car Insurance Customers", I used computer packages such as MS Excel and other Statistical programs to calculate how sensitive car insurance customers are to premium changes. Other projects involve analysing insurance industry trends and developing models to predict future insurance claim activity.

At least two mornings a week we have local team meetings where we will discuss project progress, any problems arising and work together to find optimal solutions. Furthermore, in the afternoon we may hold meetings with our US partners via video conferencing to discuss current projects, give feedback and get their inputs and ideas.

In addition to participating in meetings, it is also common to attend presentations by peers or present your own work and findings to peers.

I also take two afternoons a week away from my work, in order to study for the professional exams which are required to become a qualified Actuary.

What career(s) were you interested in when you were in school?

When I was at school I contemplated a wide range of careers including:

• Solicitor
• Doctor
• Engineer
• Accountant
• Pharmacist
• Optician

To summarise, I really didn't know what career I wanted to pursue when I was a teenager, however I was inclining towards a professional career.

What made you decide to study your subject at University?

After finishing my A-Levels I was due to go to Queen's to study for a BA Law and Accountancy, my main reasoning being that it left me with a choice of two good career paths to follow.

However the week before I was due to enrol in Queen's; I had began to rethink my choice. After consulting another careers advisor, I learned that a degree in Mathematics could open doors to over 40 different careers in many different sectors. This advice coupled with the fact that throughout school I enjoyed Maths, logical thinking and problem-solving, led me to make a last-minute application to study for BSc Mathematics at Queen's.

At this point I was still undecided in my career path, but I was aware that I still had many options open to me given my degree choice.

What led to you taking your current job?

Whilst in my 3rd and final year of BSc Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research, Allstate Northern Ireland (ANI) gave a presentation to our class on Actuarial and Quantitative career opportunities with their company.

Allstate NI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Allstate Insurance in the USA, which is one of the largest insurance companies in the US. The offer by Allstate NI was to do an internship within the Actuarial department of Allstate in Chicago for 3 months, after which the program would be assessed.

After completing the internship successfully I was made an offer to go back to Chicago to train for a year in Statistical, Actuarial and Modelling techniques as applied within the insurance industry, with the intention of returning to Allstate NI's Belfast office to continue this work from there.

The reasons I chose Allstate NI for my career included the unique opportunity to work on the cutting edge of the actuarial and insurance world from Belfast, their commitment to continued training and development, they form a vital part of a Fortune 100 company and they have been the market leader in terms of work-place awards over the last decade.

What aspects do you find most satisfying about your current job?

There is no strict routine. It's up to the individual to use their own initiative to come up with ideas to solve business problems, whilst receiving help and guidance from their peers.

I like to be motivated and to learn something new everyday, and this job provides this in abundance. I get the opportunity to network with experienced and highly skilled people on both sides of the Atlantic, which is an essential factor in terms of career development.

Unlike some careers, I am given the opportunity to put into practice what I have learned in school and university daily, whether that is computer programming, critical thinking, problem solving or presenting.