Spotlight Series - Jeff

Spotlight Series: Meet Jeff Helzner

"Jeff brings incredible intellectual power that provides us with deep insights into our ongoing engagement with our trading partners and clients," says teammate Uwe Schoberth. "His way of looking at behaviors and judgements enables us to challenge the traditional process and elevates our approach to an entirely different level of engagement."

Jeff’s background in academia informs his work about decision making in the insurance industry where a unique blend of human judgement and computation exists every day.

Jeff Helzner comes to Joyn’s R&D team as a decision scientist who helps guide the company’s choices and development by improving decision making across the insurance value chain. Currently, his work is focused on the pipeline of customers matched to Joyn’s underwriting appetite.

Jeff’s interest in decision making dates back to his graduate studies, which culminated with a PhD in Logic, Computation, and Methodology from Carnegie Mellon University. While he has been applying his knowledge of decision making to the insurance industry for the past six years, Jeff was previously an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University where he taught undergraduate and graduate level courses on the foundations of probability and decision theory, logic, philosophy of science, and epistemology. His research focused mostly on foundations of rational choice theory, especially as it relates to decision making under conditions of uncertainty.

Some of Jeff’s major research projects have focused on areas such as reducing noise in human judgment, behavioral analytics, nudging, and decision support systems.

What’s your role at Joyn?

In a nutshell, I’d say that my role at Joyn is to build tools to help our subject matter experts make better decisions. A typical project might involve building data pipelines, visualizations, and models, all while trying to stay clear on the decision process that we are trying to improve. With these tools, our talented team members will make more informed choices when tasked with the difficult decisions the insurance industry is sure to bring.

What attracted you to Joyn?

I have a long-standing interest in the topic of decision making under conditions of risk and uncertainty. Insurance provides many examples of such decisions, e.g., whether or not to quote a given submission. I find the small and middle market commercial space that we’re focusing on here at Joyn to be particularly interesting because I believe it will require a blend of human judgment and computation. I have a lot of confidence in Joyn’s leadership, and I believe in the team and their mission. These factors, along with Joyn’s commitment to developing this blend in a principled manner, made me very excited to join the team.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not focused on Joyn’s decision making?

I spend a lot of time hanging out at home with my wife and kids. I really enjoy listening to music, especially jazz and progressive rock. I’m a big fan of professional ice hockey too. I’m also starting to get back into some old research interests as I’m getting a bit more free time with my kids getting older.

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Spotlight Series: Meet Chris Parrillo

Jeff Helzner, a teammate of Chris, says, “I’ve had the opportunity to work with many fine underwriters over the years, but few, if any, are as data savvy as Chris. His deep interest in the data we’re using, coupled with his insurance knowledge, makes him a great partner for our data scientists and software engineers who aim to develop tools that help us make better decisions.” Read on to learn more.

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