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MIT Alumna Aims to be Sole Survivor

  • Julie Fox

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As an actuary who specializes in predictive analytics, Chrissy Hofbeck MBA ’16 entered Survivor season 35 feeling confident. What started as 18 players in the hunt for the $1 million prize is now down to five players, including Hofbeck. The two-hour finale airs on Wednesday, December 20, at 8:00 p.m. EST.

“What an actuary does,” Hofbeck told Survivor producers, leading up to the start of the season “is they calculate the present value of future risk, which, by the way is exactly what Survivor is all about. Calculating the likelihood that certain events will happen in the future and figuring out what is my next best step now in order to account for what I think might happen in the future.”

This season, the show is organized by groups, heroes vs. healers vs. hustlers based on how they are perceived by others. Hofbeck is categorized as a hero, explains host Jeff Probst, who even says that she is one of his “all-time favorite people.”

“She has accomplished so much. Uber bright, big career, took time off to go have a family then came back to have another big career. She’s a hero because she shows especially other women, you can do anything—especially anything any dude can do.”

Hofbeck, center, with contestants on Survivor season 35


Hofbeck, who graduated from Penn in 1993 as a mathematics major, is a self-proclaimed nerd. After about 12 years in employee benefits retirement consulting, Hofbeck moved into property and casualty analytics More recently, she moved to predictive analytics capabilities for large global insurers—currently is the vice president and actuary at Prudential Financial. When Hofbeck decided to pursue her MBA, she didn’t apply anywhere else besides MIT.

“As I am a quant/math-nerd, I only wanted to attend MIT as I viewed it as the most quant-heavy, prestigious school. It was all-or-nothing for me. Honestly, the experience made me realize that I can do anything if I am willing to work hard.”

Hofbeck is hoping that her skills and can-do-anything mindset is what gets her to the end, as well as her passion. “I have this joy and passion for most everything that I do,” Hofbeck told Survivor producers. “A person who can find joy in mathematics can find joy in living on an island for 39 days. I feel like a lot of my life I’ve been underestimated and I want to come out here and kick some serious ass and show everyone what I can do.”

She encourages her fellow MIT graduates to reach out on Twitter or Instagram to connect about math, Survivor, and occasional general nonsense.

Update: Chrissy Hofbeck MBA ’16 was the runner-up in season Survivor 35. Read an interview with Hofbeck after the finale.  

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