To Gladly Persevere: Pinnacle University 2021
At least two things came to fruition from the 1960s science fiction TV shows many of us watched as children. First, as the title of this blog suggests, it is now acceptable to split an infinitive (that is, insert an adverb between the word “to” and the verb). Second, although we still don’t have flying cars, it is possible to conduct meetings and converse with people miles away while looking at a screen. This came in quite handy as we planned our 2021 Pinnacle University program.
Pinnacle U 2021 was a completely virtual experience held over two afternoons, where nine students from Illinois State University (ISU) and Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) joined forces with Pinnacle’s actuarial analysts to create and deliver presentations on topics of actuarial interest. This year, viewers watched from their computer monitors. After each presentation, the audience – including a panel of actuarial experts from a variety of companies – provided comments and posed questions to the groups.
Last year in 2020, after the pandemic forced many to pivot from the typical way of operating, Pinnacle U transitioned to a virtual format. Our experience from last year’s event, where we hosted three events on separate days, showed us that a virtual Pinnacle U could be successful. This year, conducting seven presentations over the course of a week led us to streamline our virtual process even more. We tested the functionality of our meeting software ahead of time, which greatly reduced the likelihood of hardware, software or user errors. We also made sure to preserve an interactive element to the presentations; time was reserved for questions, which could be asked through the chat function or the “raise hand” feature.
The content of this year’s presentations varied, but innovation appeared throughout as a common theme. Pinnacle U sessions focused on emerging topics such as telematics, artificial intelligence and climate change. One team even worked on an insurance product for baseball players in the pre-arbitration phase of their professional careers.
Seeing the university students display what they learned was just as exciting as ever. As we journey to planning Pinnacle U 2022, we find ourselves with a new wealth of options and opportunities in the presentation format. Now that we have tried-and-true procedures in place, our virtual Pinnacle U may be able to reach a broader and more diverse audience. A hybrid model may even be possible, with Pinnacle U ideas, topics and discussions becoming available for students and professionals thousands of miles away.
We enjoy planning Pinnacle U and appreciate the flexibility Pinnacle’s marketing and IT staff have helped create these past two years. Since COVID emerged, we take virtual meetings for granted…but I’m not holding out for my flying automobile.