Derek is the Benefits Director and Lead Risk Manager for Lerner, Csernai & Fath Financial Group, where he oversees the groups benefits division and deals with employer sponsored healthcare arrangements. In his role, Derek manages strategies for sales, account management, and customer service.
It's not every career that you're afforded the opportunity to begin each day with a new challenge, but to the surprise of many, Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) is one of those careers. We caught up with Ferris alumnus, Derek Lodholtz and current Ferris student, Hannah McGlocklin, to learn more about their paths in Risk Management and Insurance.
Hannah is currently completing her summer internship through the Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association, working in underwriting and brokerage. Having the opportunity to work with two companies, Hannah has expanded her experience in the excess and surplus lines market and specialty insurance.
What made you interested in pursuing a career in Risk Management?
Derek: I really stumbled into an opportunity in the industry like many others have. My father was dating an agency owner and that is where I got my first opportunity. From there it really was just happenstance that Ferris had an RMI program and that really fueled my desire for a career in the industry. I wanted to initially have a career as an architect, and when I realized how much I enjoyed the RMI industry and the career prospectus, the decision was really a no brainer. Every day is different for me. Some days I am running data projections for clients, the next I am in a sales meeting with a potential new client, the next day I could be out on a farm who is a client. The industry checks all the boxes for me.
Hannah: My first interest in the insurance industry was in tenth grade at a visit for early college programs through Eaton RESA/Lansing Community College. I enrolled for the Insurance and Risk Management program through Olivet College and earned nine credits my junior year of high school taking Principles of Insurance, Personal Insurance, and Commercial Insurance. The excitement I had found in the vast opportunities that this industry has to offer gave me assurance that this is the career path meant for me. After graduating from high school, I began working toward my degree in Risk Management and Insurance here at Ferris State and I haven't looked back.
What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in Risk Management?
Derek: Look into the industry, don't shy away from it. There are opportunities galore that many don't even realize are there. Working in insurance doesn't mean you are selling insurance. Just like any other industry, there are different aspects and accompanying roles that go into it. I have friends who never thought they would land in the insurance industry that now are enjoying very successful careers, be that in sales management, marketing, or claims. Don't write off the industry, there is unlimited potential and job openings in areas you likely didn't even know existed.
Hannah: Sometimes I have to remember that not everyone is as excited about this industry as I am, but that is a great problem to have. If someone is considering a degree in RMI, I would encourage them to talk to someone in the industry and really understand what it's about. This industry feels like the best kept secret; there is so much opportunity and variety. A career in RMI does not mean sitting at a desk punching a calculator all day or knocking on every door in the neighborhood to sell an insurance policy. I think anyone could find a position in this industry that they could enjoy. I would encourage them to keep an open mind, be willing to learn, and to never stop networking; sometimes you can learn the most just by having a conversation with somebody.
How has Ferris helped prepare you for your career?
Derek: The RMI program at Ferris really helped me with my career. There are many opportunities that I have been afforded, where I wonder if those doors would have been opened for me without having gone through the RMI program. The RMI program does a great job at preparing students for what the industry requires of its workforce. Dr. Brown does a great job with the curriculum — I worked in the industry while going through college and can attest the coursework definitely shows insight and brings knowledge to what day-to-day applications are while on the job.
Hannah: It's crazy how fast my time here at Ferris has seemed to go and yet the amount of knowledge, skills, and professionalism I have gained has been incredible. The RMI program here at Ferris has great leadership that really cares about you and your growth. The program has challenged me and helped me build the foundation of my career. The opportunities I have had through this program, through my job on campus, and through the industry have prepared me to take on this next chapter of life upon graduation. Although it is still scary, I know that I have the skill set to be successful. This program will help unlock doors that you have to be willing to open and take advantage of. Go to the extra speakers, get involved in Gamma lota Sigma, go to the conferences, meetings, and socials, and never stop networking and learning about what this industry has to offer; in my experience it has more than I could imagine, and I will never stop learning.