Natural catastrophe modeler
‘Even though I had a little bit of hands-on experience as a student, the learning curve was very steep going into a real industry like oil and gas. I’m now again in the same situation and I enjoy that a lot.’
Until recently, I worked for Wintershall Dea, who, by the way, also sponsor an IDEA League scholarship every year. For my first two years there, I travelled around the world, working in oil and gas exploration and getting trained as a seismic interpreter. What excited me about the job was that you analyse something which you don’t see. You use geophysical methods to get an understanding of the first five, six kilometres underground, and to analyse structures that you can’t see, but that you have to trust your data on. It’s amazing and really interesting that we can do that. I really liked my job – I went to offshore rigs where we were drilling wells, it was really exciting – but the oil crisis kicked in and corona was next, so after 7,5 years I left.
Now I’m in natcat – natural catastrophe – modelling. Insurance companies like to quantify what natural catastrophes can do to their portfolio. The car industry, for example, is interested in hail. How much damage can it do in certain locations? Natural catastrophes can be quite dramatic, but I’m really fascinated by them. Mother nature is crazy. I’m really involved in climate change now, which is funny seeing where my career was previously. In our modelling process we incorporate data from climate models so that we can model, for example, if hail, tornadoes, and other natural catastrophes will occur more frequently in the future because of the impact of climate change. You can’t say that there will be an earthquake in Japan next week. But you can say, okay, what can happen in the next ten years? And then we put a number on that. I’m the expert on gravitational risks like landslides and subsidence and geological risks like earthquakes. I am working in a multidisciplinary team consisting of geophysicist, geologists and meteorologist. The work is totally different, but you can do very different jobs with the same degree. That’s pretty cool.
‘Natural catastrophes can be quite dramatic, but I’m really fascinated by them. Mother nature is crazy.’
I have the exact same motivation for this job, I’m learning so many new things and getting to know nice people and learning from good mentors and I can develop myself really fast. Even though I had a little bit of hands-on experience as a student, the learning curve was very steep going into a real industry like oil and gas. I’m now again in the same situation and I enjoy that a lot. To be happy and be good at what you’re doing, you have to do what you really like. If you like the work in the oil and gas business, you should just do it. Just follow your passion and you’ll be fine.
After eight years, I’m still in contact with everyone from IDEA League. It was an amazing time with a lot of team spirit and that’s why I think so many friendships for life were developed. One of the people who studied with me at IDEA League is now my best friend and he was also my best man at my wedding. When I left oil and gas, I saw on LinkedIn that another graduate had done the same thing and was now starting in catastrophe modelling. I contacted him and when I had to give a presentation for my job interview about how I would include hail risks in a software model, he was able to help me a lot. I would not have gotten this job without the network of IDEA League alumni.