The Centre experience: Lukas Sundermann
02 Nov 2012
Lukas Sundermann recently completed a six month internship at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue. In the following short interview, he recounts what attracted him to come and work at the Centre, what he enjoyed about working at the Centre, and what his work ultimately involved.
What initially brought you to the Centre?
My original intention was to experience working for a globally operating company in contrast to academia. I previously studied geology, and was looking for an interesting project to which I could apply my academic skills. Reinsurance seemed very suitable for that purpose, as reinsurers provide cover for natural catastrophes, my area of interest. It also gave me an opportunity to work in the beautiful country of Switzerland. The Risk Research Relations team here at the Centre was the lead party in the joint study project with the Catastrophic Perils and GEO services teams.
What business area are you working on?
I am working with natural catastrophe models, such as earthquakes, storms and flooding. The world's growing population is increasingly affected by the impact of these hazards. We are developing a consistent approach across the world of the effects of natural catastrophes on the population. I enjoy this link between the scientific and the technical side, as it allows me to use my knowledge.
Will we be able to see the results of your work?
We have recently published the results, in a publication entitled 'Mind the Risk' (see right).
How have you found your time at Swiss Re and working at the Centre?
I very much enjoyed working with an inspiring and helpful team. The working environment at the Centre I find stimulating and accommodating, particularly my colleagues and the friendly staff. Another side effect is that interns at the CGD are in the thick of the action. We are able to participate in events such as Risk Talks and are exposed to some of the latest topics being confronted by Swiss Re.
How can such an internship prepare you for the future?
An internship at the CGD opens many doors and helps to establish a professional network. I have worked with a number of teams at Swiss Re and experienced how they worked together. The internship clearly helped me to shape my expectations for the future.
What are the next steps for you?
Luckily I have the opportunity to stay a little longer with Swiss Re, as a decision has been made to extend my research. I will now become part of the Cat Perils team, although I will still work together with Risk Research Relations at CGD as they have led me successfully through the last 6 months.
Would you recommend a similar internship?
Yes, without doubt. I would not hesitate in applying for a similar internship again. It is of considerable benefit and great use in kick-starting a career.
Academic background: Geologist with a focus on earthquake generating faults and geomorphology. Studied at LMU and TU Munich, completed a semester at the graduate school of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Professional experience: Worked as a teaching- and research assistant at the institute for geology (LMU); consultant for a geologic video documentary dealing with climate change by the DFG (German Science Foundation); and completed an internship at the Bavarian State office for resource geology.
Personal interests: I enjoy living close to the mountains here in Zurich, especially in a (hopefully) snowy winter. I have a passion for board sports, spending as much time as possible snowboarding, surfing etc. I furthermore like to meet people from around the world, travel, listen to music and being chaotically busy during the weekends.