Diary of an Insurer: K2 International’s Zach Cohen

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Zach Cohen, catastrophe modeller at K2 International, troubleshoots code, deals with muddy paw prints and helps underwriters grasp the implications of earthquakes.

Zach Cohen, Catastrophe Modeller, K2 International
Photo: K2 International

Monday

Monday morning always begins with an operations, management information and exposure management meeting.

Working in a small company means there is significant overlap between teams, so starting the week with this call is the most sensible way to keep everyone informed with what’s being worked on, and most importantly, find out who had the best weekend.

We had received news of the Turkey earthquakes and any time an event such as this occurs, our team are instantly on hand to assist the underwriters and put the necessary analysis together, giving an indication as to what risks may be exposed and the scale of possible loss.

It can be a nuanced task as no two events are the same, and the occurrence of these tend to disrupt the planned action list for the day.

Tuesday

running-idm1017

I arrive at the office ready to tackle an urgent request from our capacity providers, which was to produce and optimise a portfolio of risks.

I chose to sit with the underwriters today as I knew I’d be relying on their support. Thanks to the excellent suite of tools we have available and responsiveness of the underwriters, I was able to get this modelled efficiently and deliver a complete pack by midday.

Tuesday lunchtime usually means a 5K run, but no one in the office wanted to join me today as the weather was awful.

Still, I powered through and felt great afterwards, although regret eating the dozens of sweets that someone brought into the office from their holiday.

Later in the day, I attended our weekly exposure management meeting in person. As a team, we work seamlessly, so this meeting is vital to keeping that dynamic going throughout the week.

Wednesday

man-dog

Today, I had a lot to do, so I worked from home. The morning was spent carrying out some testing for a large ongoing project across the business.

I was working with the operations team to test the output, and although there was some back and forth, the numbers were coming out as expected.

During my lunch break, I took my dog Teddy for a quick run at the park. It’s a wholesome screen-break that I love, just not the clearing of muddy footprints from the carpet afterwards.

The afternoon was spent on back-to-back internal and external calls with the US.

The time difference meant that the calls ran a little late into the evening, which doesn’t happen too often.

The group chief operating officer joined one of the regular meetings from San Diego and I was glad to see that his humour translated just as well over a video call as it does in person.

Thursday

Borough Market

The morning was spent in the office finding a creative approach to feed a pricing calculation template for the parametric line of business using a non-standard output from the cat modelling software.

It was a unique task that certainly made full use of my mathematics degree.

I am a member of our sports and social committee, which runs company-wide social events throughout the year. Today we were hosting a cheese and wine tasting at 5pm in the office collaboration space.

During lunch, myself and a fellow committee member headed to Borough Market to sample various cheeses and gather snacks for the event this evening.

We arrived back with bags filled to the brim and eager for the rest of the office to try them.

The event was a success, although, I must confess that I’m not a wine drinker so could not taste the difference between the drinks. Oops. Nevertheless, it was a great way to socialise and unwind with colleagues after a busy week.

Friday

dentist2

The morning started with a 1:1 coaching session with a member of HR. We discussed progress towards my development goals and widening my skillset – always a great reflective chat.

It’s amazing to see how far I have come in just a few years and recognise that I am surrounded by supportive colleagues in a company that is invested in my professional growth.

I had a dentist appointment at 11 am, which was an inconvenient time, however K2 adopts a hybrid working policy so it means that there were no issues at all.

The afternoon was spent helping my team fix their stubborn structured query language (SQL) scripts, which refused to run.

After some troubleshooting, I found a missing bracket that did the trick, and I managed to find an alternative solution to make the code run more reliably.

Process optimisation is one of the areas that I take particular interest in, so my team always encourage me to explore this and give me full freedom to create automated systems wherever I see fit.

We ended the week with a virtual team coffee. I joined K2 virtually during Covid, so these Friday team get togethers were originally scheduled to help me integrate into the team better.

I love that three years later these have stuck and are still growing strong. It’s just a great way to round up the week.

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