Meet our speakers

Yaneer Bar-Yam

Yaneer holds an SB and PhD in physics from MIT. Since the late 1980s he has contributed to founding the field of complex systems science, introducing fundamental mathematical rigor, real world application, and educational programs for new concepts and insights of this field.

Yaneer’s recent work quantitatively analyzes the origins and impacts of market crashes, social unrest, ethnic violence, military conflict and pandemics, the structure and dynamics of social networks, as well as the bases of creativity, panic, evolution and altruism.

Yaneer has advised the U.S. Government on global social unrest and the crises in Egypt and Syria, counterterrorism strategies, military force transformation, market regulation, delivery of disease prevention services and control of hospital infections. He regularly advises NGOs and corporations regarding their use of complex systems science.

He has authored more than 200 journal articles. His work on the causes of the global food crisis was cited among the top 10 scientific discoveries of 2011 by Wired magazine. His scientific visualizations received recognition as “best of” from Wired in 2011 and 2013, and from Motherboard in 2013.

International coverage of Yaneer’s work includes The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Die Zeit, and Le Monde, among others.

Micah Gutman

Micah is a Managing Director at Two Sigma Insurance Quantified (TSIQ), where he leads efforts across modeling and data science. He has worked in the Two Sigma family of companies for over 17 years. He spent the first twelve years of his career working in trading and asset management and launched multiple new business lines that have contributed to Two Sigma’s growth and success. Through this time he led cross disciplinary teams encompassing engineering, modeling and business development.

In 2014, Micah was part of the team that founded TSIQ to apply Two Sigma’s data science and engineering capabilities to problems in the insurance industry. Over the past 5 years, TSIQ has seen enormous growth and success with Micah continuing to serve a leadership role as the Global Head of Modeling.

Micah holds Masters and Bachelors degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering.

Otakar Hubschmann

Otakar runs the Applied Data Group at TransRe, a global reinsurance company. The group seeks to monetize information through data science and machine learning.

Previously, he spent his career as a portfolio manager and trader at international banks and hedge funds – building, trading, and managing risk for both quantitative and discretionary trading strategies.

Otakar teaches yoga and pranayama classes and was a 2x lacrosse all-American walk-on, after being cut as a freshman, at Georgetown University. He likes to read books and practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Anya Kutsina

Anya is Co-Founder, Board Member and Executive Vice President of Ultimate Risk Solutions (URS).

Anya and her team created and developed URS’s Risk Explorer™, the brand leader in insurance analytics. Today, as head of URS’s Global Business Development group, she has been active in the lnternational lnsurance Society as an ambassador. Since beginning her insurance career in 1998 as an actuary at Guy Carpenter & Co., she has held lead actuarial roles with Aon Re and Swiss Re, with special focus on Reinsurance Pricing activities.

Anya has lectured at colleges on the subjects of Statistics and the Theory of Probability and has participated in key industry panels and conferences.

Anya holds an M.Sc. in mathematics and computer sciences from Kiev Pedagogical University and an MBA in actuarial science and finance from the College of lnsurance (St. John’s University), having completed postgraduate work in statistics at Columbia University in New York.

Joan Lamm-Tennant

Joan is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Blue Marble Micro Limited, a startup that designs and implements microinsurance ventures for the underserved in emerging markets. Blue Marble is owned by nine multinational insurance entities and in collaboration with other institutions aims to advance food security, financial inclusion and micro- entrepreneurship. Previously, Joan was the Global Chief Economist and Risk Strategist of Guy Carpenter Company LLC, a reinsurance and risk management operating company of Marsh & McLennan, and President of GenRe Capital Consultants, where she led the global advisory arm of General Reinsurance. Before joining industry Joan had an academic career of over fifteen years. Joan was a tenured Professor of Finance at Villanova University where she held the Thomas Labrecque Chair in Business.

Joan holds a Ph.D. in Finance and Investments from the University of Texas, Austin. In addition Joan holds an M.B.A. in Finance from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas and a B.B.A. with Honors in Accounting from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas.

Zhixin Lu

Zhixin is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).

Zhixin received his Ph.D. degree in 2017 from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). His research has involved understanding and predicting the evolution of various complex and chaotic dynamical systems. 

One of his highlighted works explained the east-west asymmetry in jet-lag recovery using a theory of dynamical systems, which has been reported by 20+ media outlets, including CNN, NYT, Washington Post, Fox News, Physics Today, Scientific American, and etc. A more recent work of Zhixin, being highlighted by the Quanta magazine, showed great success in utilizing artificial intelligence to predict the future evolution of chaotic systems out to stunningly distant horizons.  In September 2017, Zhixin joined the Complex System Lab led by Dr. Danielle S. Bassett at UPenn. Since then, Zhixin has been continually active in exploring the intersection between human intelligence and artificial intelligence by blending chaos theory, network science, and recurrent neural networks. 

Julianna Muir

Julianna is the Head of Operations at Attune. In this role her responsibilities include leading our carrier engagement strategy and implementation, compliance, and service teams.

Julianna joined Attune from Hamilton USA in 2017 where she most recently served as the Head of Strategy and Innovation, playing a significant role in the design and launch of Attune. Prior to Hamilton she spent four years at McKinsey & Company, where she was a member of the firm’s insurance practice and advised leading global companies on strategy, operations, organizational design, and sales and marketing.

Prior to joining McKinsey, Julianna worked as a treaty reinsurance broker at Guy Carpenter & Company.  During her time at the firm, she maintained numerous responsibilities in reinsurance structuring and placement across multiple property and casualty lines of business.

Julianna obtained her MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College.

Susan J. Patschak

Susan is an insurance executive with over 35 years of experience in the industry. She has been the Chief Executive Officer of Florida Specialty Holdings and its subsidiaries since August 2013. Florida Specialty Holdings acquired Safeway Property Insurance Company, a Florida domestic homeowners insurance company, in August 2015 and renamed it Florida Specialty Insurance Company.

Her position prior to that was Chief Executive Officer of the two Canopius Bermuda (Canopius) operations:  Canopius Bermuda Limited and Canopius Underwriting Bermuda Limited.  She held these positions from October 2007 until June 2013 when the reinsurance company was sold. Susan was instrumental in the start-up of the Canopius Bermuda operation working on the development of the companies since March 2007. During her tenure at Canopius, she was named as one of the top 20 “Women to Watch” from “Reinsurance Magazine.”

Prior to joining Canopius, Susan was with Endurance Specialty Insurance, Ltd. (Endurance) in Hamilton, Bermuda where she was an Executive Vice President and the Chief Operating Officer of the Bermuda operation.  In addition, she served on both Endurance Holding’s Executive Team and Loss Reserve Committee that oversaw the liability levels for the entire group. It was during her time at Endurance that she became involved in the Florida Insurance Market and has been asked to speak on numerous occasions about the topic. Before joining Endurance, Susan was the Global Chief Actuary for the ACE Group of Companies in Hamilton, Bermuda, and prior to working at ACE, she was employed for over 17 years with Tillinghast – Towers Perrin (“Tillinghast”). 

David Piesse

David is a Global Insurance Evangelist and an advisory board member of Guardtime, a leading cybersecurity company and blockchain provider specializing in cryptography for data integrity. Guardtime’s keyless signature infrastructure (KSI) is utilized across the defense industry and into the supply chain, insurance, healthcare and manufacturing verticals. In addition, Guardtime has an underlying application for data privacy laws such as GDPR. In May 2018, EY, Guardtime and Maersk, with members of the insurance industry, launched InsurWave, the first global commercial insurance blockchain-backed platform to enter production commencing with marine insurance.

David is an Asia Pacific specialist with an educational background at the British Computer Society and the Chartered Insurance Institute. He has lived in Asia for 30 years. On July 2017, he received the Kenneth Black Jr. Distinguished Service Award from the International Insurance Society.

David has held numerous positions in a 40-year career including Global Insurance Lead for SUN Microsystems, Asia Pacific Chairman for Unirisx, United Nations Risk Management Consultant, roles in the Canadian government, having started his career at Lloyds of London. He is currently involved in numerous startups for exponential technologies for blockchain and AI across multiple vertical industries.

As an Advisory Board member of Ultimate Risk Solutions, and previously URS’s Asia Pacific Team, David helped to lead URS in introducing their primary product, Risk Explorer™, into an emerging market, inter-operating with new innovations such as InsurWave.

David is the Chairman of the International Insurance Society Ambassadors (IIS). He assists the management in introducing new programs to extend memberships and introduce localized content.

Greg Richardson

Greg assumed his role as Chief Risk Officer of TransRe in February, 2013. In this role, Greg is responsible for the ongoing development of the Group’s Enterprise Risk Management framework and culture.

In addition, he is responsible for development of TransRe’s corporate strategy, business planning and he is responsible for liaising to the rating agencies. He has over 23 years of industry experience, including roles in strategic planning, as Head of Property and Marine for a US reinsurer, and Chief Underwriting Officer for a Bermuda reinsurance company.

Greg earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Purdue University, an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago, and was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University.

Keyan Shahdi

Keyan Shahdi is a Senior Vice President at SCOR and the Chief Risk Officer for P&C Americas where he leads the Risk Management organization covering Reinsurance, Specialty and MGA products.

Prior to SCOR, Keyan worked at AIG where he served as the Global Head of Pricing for Commercial Programs & MGAs, responsible for global actuarial pricing and portfolio analytics for commercial programs and schemes in 25 countries. Prior to this role, Keyan was responsible for Risk Management of AIG’s Global Specialty Lines, covering; Aviation, Marine, Political Risk, Surety, Trade Credit, Environmental and MGAs/Programs.

Keyan holds an MBA from The College of William & Mary’s Mason School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.

Steven Strogatz

Steven is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University. After graduating summa cum laude in mathematics from Princeton in 1980, Steven studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He did his doctoral work in applied mathematics at Harvard, followed by a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard and Boston University. From 1989 to 1994, Steven taught in the Department of Mathematics at MIT. He joined the Cornell faculty in 1994.

Steven has received numerous awards for his research, teaching, and public communication, including: a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation (1990); MIT’s highest teaching prize, the E. M. Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1991); the J.P. and Mary Barger ’50 Teaching Award (1997), the Robert ’55 and Vanne ’57 Cowie Teaching Award (2001), the Tau Beta Pi Teaching Award (2006), and the Swanson Teaching Award (2009), all from Cornell’s College of Engineering; the Communications Award from the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (2007), a lifetime achievement award for the communication of mathematics to the general public; the AAAS Public Engagement with Science Award (2013), whose previous winners include Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and E.O. Wilson; the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science (2015), which honors “the scientist as poet” and whose previous awardees include Freeman Dyson, Oliver Sacks, and Atul Gawande; and Cornell’s highest teaching prize, the Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowship (2016).

Steven is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (2009), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2012), the American Physical Society (2014), and the American Mathematical Society (2016).

He has spoken at TED and is a frequent guest on Radiolab and Science Friday. In the spring of 2010, he wrote a weekly blog about mathematics for the The New York Times; the Harvard Business Review described these columns as “a model for how mathematics needs to be popularized.” His second New York Times series, Me, Myself and Math, appeared in the fall of 2012. Steven has also filmed a series of 24 lectures on Chaos for the Teaching Company’s Great Courses series.

He is the author of Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos (1994), Sync (2003), and The Calculus of Friendship (2009). His most recent book, The Joy of x (2012), has been translated into 15 languages.

Amin Toufani

Amin is the CEO of T Labs. He was formerly the director of strategy and Vice President of Strategic Relations at Singularity University. He brings a unique set of technological, entrepreneurial and policy perspectives to the dialogue of innovation on campus.

Before Singularity, Amin founded for-profit and social impact organizations in a range of domains including: artificial intelligence, peer to peer lending, bitcoin, human rights, international development, carbon offsetting, and solar energy.

Google Search ranks him as the world’s best guitar player – a title he readily rejects. In addition to his work at Singularity, Amin is building the world’s first hedge fund for the poor, as well as Reversopedia – a reverse encyclopedia composed of things we know we don’t know.

Amin has a degree in artificial intelligence from the University of British Columbia, an MBA from Stanford, and an MPA in economic policy from Harvard. He attended Harvard and Stanford concurrently and graduated an Arjay Miller Scholar.

Tim Trainor

Tim is the Executive Director of Business Development at URS for North America and Bermuda. Tim began his career as an energy and technical risk property underwriter with particular emphasis on oil and gas, chemical, and industrial facilities. During his career, he played key roles in natural catastrophe underwriting, portfolio management, risk transfer, and modeling adoption.

Tim has served the P&C industry from the early days of catastrophe risk modeling holding various roles in the modeling industry. Tim has 25 years of experience working directly with primary insurers, insurance brokers, and reinsurance intermediaries. Prior to joining URS, Tim was EQECAT’s Bermuda Industry Practice leader and a Principal with Risk Management Solutions.

Tim holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Economics from the University of New Hampshire.

Grace Vandecruze

Grace Vandecruze’s career has been dedicated to the relentless mission of advising her clients in effectively executing growth strategy and managing change.  Her purpose is to assist organizations, teams and leaders in realizing their highest potential by charting a range of possible futures, rather than one predetermined outcome.  She is the Founder and Managing Director at Grace Global Capital LLC (www.graceglobalcapital.com) a consulting firm providing M&A financial advisory, restructuring, and valuation to insurance executives, boards and financial regulators since 2006.  Throughout her career, Grace has delivered advisory expertise on over $5 billion of insurance transactions.

As Managing Director at Swiss Re, Grace was responsible for the firm’s regulatory advisory practice in the insurance and financial services industries.   Grace has extensive expertise in mergers and acquisitions and capital raisings, and most notably she provided expert testimony on the valuation of Conseco during the largest bankruptcy in the insurance industry.  Prior to joining Swiss Re, she was a Vice President at a private equity firm specializing in the insurance industry and an Associate in the Financial Institutions Group at Merrill Lynch.  Working with EY and Grant Thornton earlier in her career, she was an auditor with CPA credentials serving clients in the financial services industry.

She earned an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 and a BBA in Accounting from Pace University in 1985.  Before attending The Wharton School, she was an auditor for six years in the financial services industry at Ernst & Young and Grant Thornton. She is a Certified Public Accountant.  Grace is also board member of SBLI USA and M Financial Group.

Grace has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Annapurna, the Himalayan in Bhutan and Everest Base Camp. She is also a licensed sailor. Grace has been featured in two books: “Be Happy at Work, 100 Women Who Love their Jobs and Why” by Joanne Gordon and “Doing it Ourselves:  Success Stories of African American Women in Business” by Donna Ballard. Grace is frequently quoted in the financial press, including The American Banker, Insurance Journal,  SNL Financial and AM Best TV and Journal.  She is a regular keynote speaker on the M&A landscape at the Mid-West Zone Conference of National Association of Insurance Commissioners, M Financial Annual Marketing Meeting and The Baker Tilly Insurance Conference.

Gary Venter

Gary retired from the insurance industry after a 43-year career that began at Fireman’s Fund Insurance in San Francisco and ended at AIG in New York. In between was work at a reinsurer, a reinsurance broker, a reinsurance pool, and a rating bureau.

Since retiring, Gary has been actively researching ways to use emerging statistical paradigms in the actuarial field, leading to several published research papers. He has also addressed actuarial and research groups around the world on these topics. For several years, he held an adjunct professorship for research at the University of New South Wales, and he continues to teach an actuarial graduate course on quantitative risk management at Columbia University.

Throughout his career, Gary kept using the latest advancements in computing and statistical methodology to better solve the problems at hand. He published close to 100 articles disseminating the resulting approaches. The IT revolution basically allowed statisticians to push their methods forward, and these provided better applied tools for business and science. Gary’s current research interests include using Bayesian shrinkage in MCMC for pricing, reserving, and mortality models, capital needs and allocation, and economic scenario generators.

James Whitelaw

James is the Chief Marketing Officer for TransRe, the global property and casualty reinsurer. In addition James is a Director of Blue Marble Micro Limited, a startup that designs and implements microinsurance ventures for the underserved in emerging markets. He is on the advisory boards of two venture capital funds, Sorenson Ventures and EOS Venture Partners.

James has over 23 years of industry experience. Prior to joining TransRe he held management roles at Jardine Matheson (including JLT) and at GE Capital (including Employers Re).

James holds a Degree in Law with Honours, and a Diploma in Legal Practice, both from the University of Edinburgh, and has been admitted to practice as an attorney in Scotland and in Hong Kong.

Assaf Zeevi

Assaf is Professor and holder of the Kravis chair at the Graduate School of Business, Columbia University.

His research focuses on the formulation and analysis of mathematical models of complex systems, with particular research and teaching interests that lie at the intersection of Operations Research, Statistics, Computer Science and Economics. Recent research has centered on  problems arising in the data science and machine learning space, with application domains that include healthcare analytics, dynamic pricing and demand learning, the design of recommendation engines, online retail and assortment selection, and the valuation and monetization of digital goods.

Assaf received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. (Cum Laude) from the Technion, in Israel, and subsequently his Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is the recipient of several research awards including a CAREER Award from the 
National Science Foundation, an IBM Faculty Award, Google Research Award, as well as several best paper recognitions.

Assaf has recently served as Vice Dean for Research at Columbia Business School, and Editor-in-Chief of Stochastic Systems (the flagship journal of INFORMS Applied Probability Society).  He is currently serving on several editorial boards in his professional community, as well as scientific advisory boards for startup companies in the high technology sector.

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