EP 06 – William Steenbergen – Federato – At the End of the Day, It’s About Delivering Value


Michael Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.  Michael lived and worked in Tokyo from February 1990 until December 2011.  Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth. Michael is a leader in the digital media space, building one of the biggest and fastest-growing podcast listener bases in the region.  His AsiaTechPodcast.com show has listeners in more than 130 countries and his company, Michael Waitze Media produces some of Asia’s most popular podcasts.

William Steenbergen is CTO and co-founder of Federato, the leading provider of AI-driven "Risk Ops" software in P&C insurance. As a researcher in Stanford’s Human Computer Interaction Group and the institute for Computational Mathematics at Stanford, William has worked on some of the state of the art algorithms in reinforcement learning and dynamic optimization.

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InsurTech Amplified had an insightful discussion with William Steenbergen, a co-founder and the CTO at Federato, about the role of technology and machine learning in the insurance industry. The conversation kicks off with William discussing the integration of machine learning in insurance, emphasizing that it should be a tool to enhance human capabilities, not replace them.

William talks about how machine learning models can be built to optimize the objectives defined by actuaries and portfolio managers. In the context of insurance, he explains that often insurers misunderstand their exposure to certain risks. William mentions an instance of a company that was significantly off in its estimation of risk exposure, underscoring the need for better risk management tools.

The conversation then shifts to the topic of model complexity and overfitting. They liken the problem to a privacy issue within machine learning in insurance: are underwriters willing to relinquish some control and be guided by machine learning for the overall benefit of portfolio management?

William discusses the role of user experience (UX) in designing tools for underwriters. They note that moving from traditional tools like Excel to more intuitive and streamlined user interfaces can improve workflow and aid in talent retention.

The conversation concludes with a discussion of William’s personal journey from academia to entrepreneurship. He attributes his success in this transition to the unwavering support of his family, his love for getting things done, and the similarity he finds between pursuing an academic project and building a company.


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