Did you know that Millenials (typically defined as those born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s) will soon surpass Baby Boomers and Generation X as the largest generation in the workforce?
With five generations now working side-by-side, there is more generational diversity on the job than ever before. While that can require new ways of understanding and perspective, it also presents exciting opportunities to share different perspectives and grow.
Generational diversity at Erie Insurance
Joe and Peter Hohman are a father-son team who work in the Actuarial Division at Erie Insurance. They commute to work together. Their taste in pop culture is eerily similar, particularly when it comes to comic books and music. They share a love of math and “Frasier” reruns. But there are some major differences between the Baby Boomer father and his Millennial son.
“Peter is smarter, and he can usually stay focused on something longer than I can,” Joe says. “He is also a better drummer than I am, but I am a much better guitarist.”
Peter’s response was more cosmetic.
“I have hair but no Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation, while my dad has a CPCU designation but no hair,” Peter quips.
Joe has been with ERIE for 22 years. Prior to ERIE, he taught at a university, worked as a statistician and sold plumbing, electrical and heating supplies. Peter started with ERIE in June shortly after college graduation. While he briefly considered going to grad school or seeking other employment, he accepted a full-time position following his second internship with ERIE.
Here are some other interesting tidbits about the the father-son duo.
Joe: My job title may be Associate Actuary, but I’m more commonly called “the Maryland and D.C. actuary.”
Peter: My job title may be Actuarial Analyst I, but I’m more commonly called Peter Hohman.
In a day’s work
Joe: I work on the pricing for Private Passenger Auto, HomeProtector and Erie Secure Home. (I am also responsible for pricing Boat and Inland Marine.)
Peter: I use a ton of historical loss data to determine adequate rates for commercial insurance, particularly in Wisconsin and Illinois.
How my role connects to ERIE’s strategy
Joe: Pricing is a fine balancing act between ensuring that premiums are adequate enough to be profitable and low enough to be competitive.
Peter: ERIE’s strategy is to sell insurance, and I suppose you can’t sell something that doesn’t have a price. To be fair, a great deal of the actual pricing (especially in commercial lines) is done by the good folks in underwriting, but my work provides some kind of foundation for the eventual price points of insurance.
My career path looks like …
Joe: A gradually upward-sloping curve with no points of discontinuity. (I have been in pretty much the same role for the past 22 years.)
Peter: A scatterplot with a Pearson coefficient of around .67 – there’s a decent, straight trendline which represents my ideal path, but there are many future points which deviate considerably from that trendline in unexpected ways. In fact, I can’t even be fully confident that a line is the best way to explain the data, just as I’m not sure that my ideal path will be the best way to deal with the inevitable surprises I’ll encounter in my career. (Rereading this, I realize that I went with a literal visual explanation of what my path “looks like” and failed to give an overview of my past positions and future goals like a reasonable person would. Sorry about that!)
Career turning point(s)
Joe: When I was a freshman in college, I apparently helped an adult student with some of her calculus homework. I say “apparently” because I don’t remember it; but that adult student turned out to be Sharon Cooper, who several years later decided to hire me and was my first supervisor. Moral of the story: try to be nice to EVERYBODY, because you never know when your paths might cross again.
Peter: Becoming disillusioned with academia in my sixth semester of college and therefore choosing to enter the workforce upon graduation instead of pursuing a graduate degree.
Where I see ERIE in five years
Joe: I think loss costs (and the associated premium) in private passenger auto will be coming WAY down with the advent of self-driving cars. Also, I have a hunch that the novelty of shopping for insurance online will wear off, because the public will realize that they need the expertise provided by an insurance agent. ERIE’s partnership with its independent agency force will thus continue to pay big dividends.
Peter: Still in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Joe: I have had several cross-disciplinary projects that I thoroughly enjoyed. One was a refund project for North Carolina homeowners; another was developing the Top 30 agency reports that we use in our input meetings; the most recent one was a fraud study that I had the privilege of working on.
Peter: Finding a way to incorporate all of my knowledge from college about interstellar radiative transfer processes into the new Wisconsin territory factors. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?
What I wanted to be when I grew up
Joe: A teacher.
Peter: An astrophysicist specializing in cosmology.
What’s currently stuck in my head?
Joe: “Nerve Meter” by The Hipsters (my first band—I just played my first show in 34 years with them recently in Pittsburgh).
Peter: “Crazy Mixed-Up Kid” by The Smithereens.
Best advice I’ve ever received
Joe: When I was training to be a teacher, I asked a teacher friend of mine when it would be appropriate to use sarcastic humor in front of a class. Her opinion was that it was never appropriate, because no matter how obvious your sarcasm might seem to you, someone would invariably take it the wrong way.
Peter: I remember volunteering at a sort of food bank once and a man that I was serving there told me, “It’s important to give part of yourself to others, because if you don’t then you don’t really have anything worthwhile in the first place.” I can’t claim to have followed his advice terribly well in the intervening years, but it was a kind of cosmic moment and a great piece of guidance.
Joe: A new lawn mower. (Woo hoo!)
Peter: A Rickenbacker bass guitar.
Favorite film or television show
Joe: Film – “It’s a Wonderful Life”; TV show – “Twilight Zone” and “Frasier.”
Peter: Film – either “Spider-Man 2” or “2001: A Space Odyssey”; TV show – “Rick and Morty.”
Joe: Abraham Lincoln, Tecumseh, and (as artists, not necessarily as people) The Beatles.
Peter: Each individual Beatle, Grant Morrison, Brian May, and Leonhard Euler.
To learn about career opportunities at ERIE, visit the Erie Insurance Careers section on erieinsurance.com. You can also learn more about career opportunities at ERIE by following the Erie Insurance Group Careers page on LinkedIn.