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During his first years at Lafayette, Robert G. Whitlock Jr. ’79 had no idea what direction he wanted his career to take. A piece of literature posted on a Pardee Hall bulletin board led him to the actuarial profession.

Today he stands at the top of his field and was recently named chief underwriting officer and senior vice president of the Harleysville Group in Harleysville, Pa., which has 1,600 agencies in 32 states and handles over $1 billion in insurance annually.

Whitlock is responsible for the design and implementation of commercial and personal lines of insurance, which includes overseeing the underwriting, loss control, and premium audit operations. He has direct accountability for the development and profitability of all lines of the business. Additionally, he is in charge of reinsurance and risk management functions. He also works with Wall Street analysts to make sure the firm is viewed accurately in the financial markets.

After he passed his actuarial exams and became certified, he became just one of 2,635 people worldwide who are designated a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society.

“People often ask me whether the classroom knowledge I gained as a math major is applied to what I do every day,” Whitlock says. “When you study math, you learn an analytical way of looking at things around you and that has served me well in this world. That sort of inquisitive approach to math problems is what people take away from a math major and use in this type of career.”

His experiences in Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity became the foundation of a leadership style that Whitlock uses every day.

“I was involved heavily in the fraternity, including as treasurer and president, and I think the leadership part of the job has become much more of what I do,” he says. “My leadership was really seeded at Lafayette though the fraternity work — as president having to deal with different personalities, the administration at varying levels, and the public, and as treasurer dealing with budgets, tax returns, the commissary.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles