UM Today UM Today University of Manitoba UM Today UM Today UM Today
News from
Asper School of Business
UM Today Network
Woman smiling holding her diploma on staircase.

Cassie Phaneuf [BComm(Hons)/22]

Experiential learning key to career success for actuarial BComm grad

Actuarial analyst and Asper alum Cassie Phaneuf continues to learn even as she begins her career

March 31, 2023 — 

Cassie Phaneuf [BComm(Hons)/22] majored in actuarial mathematics at the Asper School of Business before securing an internship at Intact Insurance in Montréal. Despite her specialization, her first assigned project involved more than traditional actuarial work. With the breadth of her business education, Phaneuf was well-prepared.

“For the first year of my job, I worked on the budget for Intact,” she says. “It was more of a business focus and a huge, big-picture view of the company.”

Phaneuf, an Actuarial Analyst, excelled in this interdisciplinary task thanks to her Bachelor of Commerce degree, a designation that in this role is relatively unique

“An actuary coming from a business school, especially in Montréal, is rare—most people here do a science degree with actuarial math rather than a business degree,” she says. “It’s a unique program that we have at UM, and the business background that I have from Asper was really helpful.”

She enjoyed communicating with multiple teams and developing a plan that could suit each of their individual needs. “Actuarial science is really just problem solving, and everybody has different ways of solving problems,” Phaneuf says. “You need a team of people who think in different ways and who can bring different points of view.”

A group of people smiling in front of grey and red backdrop.

Cassie Phaneuf [middle] surrounded by family at the 2022 Indigenous Business Education Partners graduation.

By pursuing the Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) option of an actuarial mathematics major, Phaneuf benefited from the breadth and depth of her business education and cultivated her own unique point of view.

A busy student, Phaneuf participated in the range of experiential learning and community-building opportunities that define Asper. She was a member of Indigenous Business Education Partners, took part in the President’s Student Leadership Program (PSLP), went on an International Exchange, completed a Co-op term at Great-West Life (now Canada Life), and was President of the student-action group, University of Manitoba Indigenous Commerce Students (UMICS).

IBEP was a key site of community for Phaneuf from day one. “My first day of university, I met a bunch of students through IBEP. They provide this great community that makes you want to keep giving back. It opened up a ton of other opportunities for me as well.”

Another means of connecting to Indigenous students at Asper, Phaneuf’s role as President of UMICS was a highlight of her degree. She calls UMICS her “little home at Asper,” and reflects on how much she learned about business and career development in this position:

“Being President of UMICS was like a career in a lot of ways. I learned about business by organizing huge career events and working with sponsors and employer partners,” she says. “At these events, we also try to create connections between those companies and our students. We want employers to get to know students on a personal level, to be able to hire them later.”

With each opportunity, Phaneuf learned by doing, and she supplemented this broad education with individual supports tailored to her dreams and specific career goals.

She connected with the Career Development Centre (CDC) as a co-op student and when applying for internships to begin building her ideal job. “When I got into university, I had this dream that I would move to Montréal,” she says. “I went to the Career Development Centre and Kelly [Mahoney] helped me apply to jobs there.”

She recalls Mahoney, Director of the CDC, informing her that actuarial internships are posted in Montréal two weeks earlier than elsewhere, a detail that could have made or broken her Montréal goals.

At the Asper CDC, Phaneuf learned job-search skills. More importantly, she was offered an in-depth guide not simply to a career in actuarial mathematics, but to her career in actuarial mathematics.

Only a couple of years after applying to those internships, Phaneuf now works with the reserving team in Intact’s corporate actuarial unit. On this team, she engages the specialization of her major, using analytical skills to allocate funds based on when they predict they will need to pay out insurance claims.

With a career journey rooted in experiential learning, Phaneuf reflects on graduating from Asper and being at the beginning of her career:

“When you intern, you’re always learning. Then, you finally get it, and suddenly the internship is over,” she says. “When you actually start your job, you’re still learning so much that you feel like an intern, but once you get it, you get to stay there, and you actually get to improve after that.”

A career, as Phaneuf describes it, can be a place where what you learn can become what you give back. As an analyst with a broad business background and a keen understanding of the value in unique personal perspectives, Phaneuf’s continued career success seems a reliable prediction. 

, , , , , ,

© University of Manitoba • Winnipeg, Manitoba • Canada • R3T 2N2

Emergency: 204-474-9341