Martin Burdett - Catastrophe Modelling Assistant at Amlin

Martin Burdett - BSc (Hons) Mathematics with Finance

My career development has benefited enormously from undertaking my placement. I was fortunate enough to take part in numerous courses and qualifications to increase my knowledge and employability. I believe I would have a greatly increased chance if applying for a similar role and also other roles within the insurance or finance industry. It has opened my mind to many career paths whilst also allowing me to gain a vast amount of experience and contacts from networking.

Who was your placement with and what was your job title?

I started my placement with Amlin which after a short time of working there was acquired by Mitsui Sumitomo to become MS Amlin. My position was that of Catastrophe Modelling Assistant.

What attracted you to this placement opportunity?

The reason for choosing this placement was due to the fact it was within the insurance industry and working within a large corporation in London. I knew it would allow me to develop my skills while also deciding whether I would enjoy the London lifestyle and weigh up what size company I would be most comfortable with.

How did you go about securing your placement and what was the process for this?

I personally kept an eye on the mathematics placement page while also actively using RateMyPlacement. I looked for positions and companies that I would be interested in and where my skill set would be best suited. Once I had found the various placements that I wanted I applied for them all. Applications for some positions can be particularly lengthy and questions can be repeated on separate applications, so due to this, I kept a word document of my responses in order to save time when similar questions appeared. The process generally went two ways, either an online application in which you would be asked an array of questions about your skills and education and sometimes completing some psychometric tests or a quicker and more personal application of sending them my CV with an accompanying covering letter, outlining why I would be ideal for the job role. If you were then shortlisted an interview would be next, however, some places did require attendance at an assessment centre.

Can you describe the various roles and responsibilities of your placement?

I worked within two teams over the year, having six months in each position. The first team was Direct & Facultative, this team dealt with high-value energy accounts as well as high-value commercial portfolio business while the second was Binder & Facilities. My responsibilities included pricing prospective contracts that were being offered to our Underwriters in Lloyds, Underwriters would send the data to me in many different formats, the data would then need “Cleansing” to be in the correct format for our modelling software (RiskLink). RiskLink would then analyse it for certain catastrophe events and give a price for each individual peril which would be covered under the contract. I would also analyse existing contracts in order to have an up to date portfolio which would be reported on at the end of each financial quarter. I had exposure to everything that my peers and managers were doing and participated in everything that my teams did.

How did the Careers and Employability Department (Placements Team) support you both before your placement?

The placements team did BPIE sessions which explained the process and gave key advice to help with applications. They sent emails with various week reports which needed filling out and reminder emails with deadlines for each submission.

How did the academic staff support you during your placement?

During my placement, I contacted my first-year tutor and he visited my place of work twice to check on how everything was going within both my teams.

How did your previous studies enable you to be successful during your placement?

My previous studies helped vastly when it came to learning new software, analysing data and learning new procedures. Tutor sessions I had previously had helped me when explaining data and mathematics concepts to colleagues.

How will your placement help you with the final year of your degree?

I believe my placement has made me much more focused on my final year and increased my want to acquire strong computing skills as well as mathematical skills.

In terms of your career development so far, what have been the benefits of undertaking this placement?

My career development has benefited enormously from undertaking my placement, I was fortunate enough to take part in numerous courses and qualifications to increase my knowledge and employability. I believe I would have a greatly increased chance if applying for a similar role and also other roles within the insurance or finance industry. It has opened my mind to many career paths whilst also allowing me to gain a vast amount experience and contacts from networking.

What would you say to a prospective student thinking about undertaking a placement year?

I would highly recommend taking a placement year, it massively increases your employability whilst also allowing you to try different job roles and locations before gaining a career upon graduation. It could open your mind to different careers, allow you to see exactly what type of organisation you could see yourself working in or even change your mind completely about what you want to do.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about student placements, please visit the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics' student placements page.

Want to find similar student placement students?

If you would like to find out what other Mathematical Sciences students are currently doing, please visit the Mathematical Sciences placements page.