Employee Spotlight – Max Turchan Innovates Insurance Data with Science and Technology

Russian born, Maxim (Max) Turchan, Sr. Data Analyst, experienced more in his first six years than many of us experience in six decades. When his family emigrated from Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, his father wanted a better life for his family and settled in America where he worked many jobs outside of his field of robotics engineering to support his family. Max learned English through immersion when his father dropped him off at Kindergarten, told him to listen to what the teacher said, and follow the lead of the other children. He also learned how to cope with grief a year later when he lost his mother to pancreatic cancer.

The death of his mother inspired Max to pursue a career in medicine. He devoted his young life to studying the brain and was certain he would become a doctor of psychiatry or neuroscience. As a freshman at Vanderbilt University, he began working as a lab assistant where he discovered a passion for statistics and data analytics in the field of medicine. His passion and knowledge were sought after at the University. He presented at various conferences and co-authored a number of papers, including one with a recipient of the Lasker Award (commonly considered a stepping stone to the Nobel prize in Medicine and Physiology). His research focused on deep brain stimulation as an early treatment for Parkinson’s disease and its potential to slow the progression of symptoms.

After Max graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in Neuroscience, he was intent on continuing his education. Veering from the pursuit of specific hard sciences, he elected to focus his efforts on the more generally applicable fields of data science and statistics, earning a Master of Science in Computational Analytics from Georgia Tech while continuing his research work full time. By the end of his program, Max realized that he did not want to pursue a PhD and without it, he had gone as far as he could in his field of research at the university. He decided to look beyond academia to further his career.

When Max discovered Velocity, the only thing he knew about insurance was that he was required to purchase auto insurance to drive legally in Tennessee. After doing some research on the company, intrigued by the field and pushed by his desire to constantly learn, Max knew he could bring Velocity’s data operations to a new level. In fact, Max brought skills to Velocity, the company didn’t know it needed. He was able to identify patterns in data usage and write programs to create desired reports and additional tooling in a much more efficient manner. The more he learned about the business and the industry, the more his skillset was sought out by other business units.

Rod Harden, Chief Claims Officer, was impressed from day one and believed that Max was going to be a keen talent at Velocity.  “His high intellect, coupled with an unwavering curious attitude, makes him ideal to be a data professional,” according to Harden. “He always looks to find answers to complicated questions and provide the business with invaluable insights to be used to steer the business towards success.  In a very short period, Max has made himself a powerhouse in the world of data insights here at Velocity and has a bright future here at the firm.”

Chief Administrations Officer, Kristi Jeffers, couldn’t agree more. “Max has raised the bar of excellence for delivering information to internal and external partners and continues to bring a depth of knowledge and expertise to VRU which is extraordinary!”

Today, Max spends most of his time supporting Compliance and Large Commercial, but he also assists the tech team to create better efficiencies in the data warehouse. He has helped connect claims and policy data, worked with personal lines and their rate filings, and automated the creation of recurring reports to improve efficiency and replicability. All the time saved with automation is used to research other areas that can be improved for himself and others, snowballing the net effects of his work. Max strongly believes everyone at Velocity is incredibly smart and talented, and his hope is to bring all the ideas together to build smarter and better efficiencies in all aspects of the organization. He knows that his work alone pales in comparison with what the team can accomplish together.

Rob Rice, Sr. Claims Data Analyst, feels the same way about his peer, “Max is a talented programmer and statistician who never passes up the chance to tackle a complex problem. He is a selfless team player who eagerly helps others. By leveraging Max, VRU will be better positioned to enter the Data Science space.”

To bring this point home, when Max learned that senior leadership was looking to make serious investments in improving Velocity’s data operations, Max authored a white paper outlining the ideal state of data operations, Velocity’s current situation, and how to bridge the gap between the two. The white paper was well received, and he is now taking a more active role in helping Velocity implement the outlined improvements.

Max is recently engaged to his girlfriend of six years. They had hoped to marry in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic postponed their plans. They plan a 2021 wedding after the virus, hopefully, calms down.