July 6, 2012
Vikas Malhotra, a 1998 College of Wooster graduate and now global director for human resource analytics at AIG, called on a group of student researchers from Wooster's Applied Mathematics & Research Experience to work on a special project for the multinational insurance giant.
WOOSTER, Ohio — Losing a valuable employee, especially to a rival company, can be costly in the highly competitive corporate world, but Vikas Malhotra believes it is possible to stay ahead of such departures. Malhotra, global director for human resource analytics at AIG, says there are ways to calculate the flight risk of employees, and he turned to a trusted ally for assistance.
Malhotra, a 1998 graduate of The College of Wooster where he earned a degree in mathematics and business economics, was an early participant in Wooster’s Applied Mathematics & Research Experience (AMRE), a unique summer program in which teams of students work with clients on specific projects and propose solutions to their problems during an eight-week immersion program.
“I’ve always been a fan of AMRE,” says Malhotra. “Having worked in the program as an undergraduate, I knew that we could connect with a group of student researchers who could leverage their research skills.”
Malhotra’s confidence is well founded. Established in 1994, AMRE has worked for 25 clients on close to 100 projects during the past 19 years, including multiple assignments with Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Progressive Insurance, The Prentke Romich Company, and FirstEnergy Corp.
Another reason for Malhotra’s confidence is his high regard for the founder and director of AMRE, John Ramsay, professor of mathematics who advised Malhotra’s project in the summer of 1996 and also counseled the students working for AIG.
“This is a unique experience and a win-win situation for both the students and AIG,” says Malhotra. “It’s an opportunity for students to apply their education and research to a real-world problem and then present their findings.”
Allie Webb, a junior math major from Columbus who worked on the project with fellow students Ana Godonoga (business economics/Moldova) and Matthew Lambert (math and computer science/Pittsburgh), is quick to agree. “My AMRE experience has been great,” she says. “I have never worked in this type of a business setting, and it was such a great way to get familiar with the processes and requirements of working for a professional client…(This) experience is invaluable because it will help to get my foot in the door if I decide to pursue opportunities in the business world.”
Malhotra’s charge to the students was to identify different variables that cause employees to leave. “We were looking for a basic mathematical model that would help predict flight risk,” he says, “something that would show us what we need to be concentrating on and what type of action plan we should put in place to retain our vital employees.”
In the end Malhotra was very pleased with the outcome. “The students had an opportunity to present their findings to the Sr. Vice-President and Global Head of Human Resources at AIG in New York,” he says, “and they provided us with information and data that we can use to implement policies and help us retain our top talent.”
Ramsay was also happy with the final results and gratified to work with a former student. “It has been very satisfying to see an AMRE alum come back and provide an opportunity for another set of students,” he says. “Vikas has indicated that AMRE was very important in his professional growth and path, so it is great to see him help do the same for Allie, Annie, and Matt. And it is always a pleasure to reconnect with an alum and see him close-up in his profession.”
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