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How the Insurance Management Program Helped One Student Succeed in His Career

Insurance Management student Ian Vlk (’24SPS) recently landed a new job at Midwest Family Mutual Insurance, which he credits to his graduate studies. Vlk describes his experience with the Master’s in Insurance Management program as “nothing but excellent,” emphasizing the program’s flexible course of study for working professionals and the value of a cohort program. 

After earning a Bachelor of Science from North Dakota State University, Vlk worked for two years before deciding he wanted to deepen his knowledge base through post-graduate studies. He chose Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies (SPS) because the faculty are top-level executives and the School accommodates students who work full-time. Vlk adds, “I chose the Columbia Insurance Management master’s program over a traditional M.B.A. because M.B.A.’s are more generalized. I wanted to dive deeper into the risk management and insurance industry, and this program allowed me to do that.” 

Says Vlk, “I talk with my fellow cohort members on a regular basis, and we have formed genuine friendships. The beauty of a cohort-based program is that it is small enough that we can all chat or call each other if we ever need anything. Every person is from a different background—some are in top-level roles or are C-suite executives. We can all benefit from one another and learn from each other’s experiences.”

Vlk credits the Master’s in Insurance Management program for providing him with the skills and confidence to accelerate his career. “I feel more confident because I have the foundation from this program. I have learned to effectively write executive summaries to leadership, stating a problem or solution about emerging-risk topics in the industry such as AI/machine learning, legal and regulatory risks, and ESG.”

Moreover, entering the M.P.S. program became a career-changing decision for Vlk. He gained a solid background in insurance management, while also learning about finance.  “After taking Bob Percopo’s finance course, I learned that I really liked finance and wanted to start a different career path, which led me to my new job,” says Vlk. “Midwest Family Mutual Insurance is a regional insurance company that also offers financial services, and they sought me out. If it wasn’t for Columbia, it is safe to say I would not have had this opportunity.”


About the Program

The Columbia University Master’s in Insurance Management program equips a new generation of professionals to lead insurance businesses with advanced industry knowledge, strategic and operational expertise, and the skills to champion new ideas.