Welcome back to our employee spotlight series! Today we highlight Justen Nestico, our actuarial expert. Justen is a people person and a total math nerd, making him the perfect combo to tackle the role he’s in. Let’s learn more about Justen!
How long have you worked at Verikai?
I’ve worked for Verikai coming up on 3 months.
Where did you grow up and where are you based now?
I grew up in Syracuse, NY but I’ve lived all up and down the East Coast at various points. As of a few weeks ago I am a proud resident of Tampa, FL.
What brought you to the company?
I’ve always been interested in the idea of measuring risk, beginning with a sports gambling newsletter I ran right out of college to my later career as an actuary. I was excited to join a company that is leveraging data and modeling in ways that are beyond what is even commonplace at, say, a Netflix or an Amazon; and to bring that level of sophistication to health insurance was really exciting. There is a growing recognition among actuaries and underwriters that there is a tremendous amount of value to be had through better predictive modeling. Verikai is a tool that will allow them to do precisely that.
What does your job entail? Can you take us through a day in the life at Verikai?
My title is Senior Solutions Consultant and I act as a technical complement to our Account Executives. My job is to act as a bridge between our data scientists and organizations considering Verikai and explain what we’re doing in terms of data and modeling. That said, Verikai is a startup, so I don’t know that there is a typical day. Some days I might be jam-packed with customer calls. Others I might be deep in numbers looking at results for a prospective customer who is looking at how our platform would have performed on a segment of its historical book of business, or helping marketing create collateral, or any of a million other activities.
What do you like most about your job and working at Verikai?
On a personal level, I really like the people here. During the interview process, it was clear that a lot of time and effort has gone into putting together the right team, and I think the culture reflects that. In terms of the job itself, I’m a math nerd so it is fun speaking to forward-looking customers who understand how much of a competitive weapon data can be. I also find it very satisfying that we are taking our knowledge and expertise in data/modeling to help innovate an industry that serves the general public. Healthcare and insurance are vital functions in society that we all rely on and any little way I can contribute to that betterment makes me feel good.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
In general, the insurance industry is not known for being especially fast-moving or innovative, and that’s especially true for the group health insurance market. I’ve seen multiple “innovation groups” within large carriers that struggle internally against organizational constraints that discourage change. So in cases like that, even once the actuaries and data scientists are on board and excited about Verikai and it can still be a challenge to get others within the organization to understand why continuing to underwrite the way they have always underwritten is not sustainable.
How has your previous experience as an actuary helped you in your current role?
It definitely helps me anticipate the kinds of things they will want clarity on before they can feel comfortable trusting our platform. I don’t think people who aren’t or have never been an actuary really understand the extent to which the Actuarial Standards Board demands that actuaries operate with rigor for anything related data sources, data quality, modeling methods, etc. As a result, I think it is natural for them to begin with a sense of skepticism when evaluating a third-party platform like ours. I view it as part of my job to “show them what is under the hood” as much as I can to help them understand what we’re doing and work with them on the analysis assessing our accuracy on their past data.
Now a few fun ones…
What do you like to do in your free time during Covid, and non-Covid?
Before COVID I spent a lot of my free time doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai kickboxing. Once COVID put an end to that, I tried to spend as much quality time as possible within our quarantine bubble.
Tell us something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a trained hypnotist.
Name a character from tv/film/movies that you think best represents who you are and why?
Someone about 10 years ago told me that I’m a real-life Dwight Schrute and I’m still offended by that. That one hit too close.
The desert island question – What three things would you bring with you if you are trapped on a desert island with no electricity?
1) The book “Godel Escher Bach”, 2) a fire starter, and 3) my foam roller
Choose one and tell us why: 1. Sailboat 2. Motorcycle 3. Convertible sportscar 4. Helicopter 5. Airplane
Motorcycle because I’ve always wanted to cruise with a helmeted dog in one of those sidecars.
If you’d like to learn more about Justen, check him out on LinkedIn!