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Meet the NYU Graduate Students Helping OZ Accelerate the Insurance Industry into the Future

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When the daughter of a hair colorist and medical device company packaging technician-not to mention the first of her family to attend college—takes a professional left turn into industrial and organizational psychology, one might presume the path to her calling was paved with accumulated nudges and experiences in the undergrad or even entry-level corporate work.

For New York University graduate student and Washington Square Management Consulting Director of Business Development Kassandra Matiz, however, destiny came calling much, much earlier, tapping her on the shoulder in a Morris County, New Jersey high school AP psychology class.

“The material I was studying was so fascinating to me, but I didn’t think working as a therapist would necessarily be the best fit,” Matiz says. So, she began researching other careers within psychology. When Matiz found I-O the metaphorical light bulb above her head lit up bright. “I instantly thought, ‘This is amazing. This sounds like what I would like to do.’

“It’s funny, in a way, because I am someone who hates math—I’m not good at it—but I quickly realized that statistics and coding are very different from math,” Matiz continues. “And, actually, creating and troubleshooting my own code if fun for me. It’s something I definitely didn’t expect to enjoy, but I really do.”

After double majoring in cognitive science and psychology at the University of Delaware, Matiz arrived at New York University, where she has so far leaned towards working with data analytics and data visualization. In December 2021, she joined Washington Square Management Consulting, a graduate student-led organization “aimed at bolstering organizational performance at a revolutionary pace.” It is from this perch that Matiz is now collaborating with OZ to build out a survey and maturity model—essentially, a goal-driven measurement methodology that evaluates qualitative data to guide continuous improvement—for the insurance industry, which will ultimately help the digital consulting firm further hone its comprehensive AI-based machine learning and robotic process automation (RPA) tools as it continues its mission to accelerate clients beyond challenges and toward new opportunities.

In this effort, Matiz is joined by fellow Jersey native and Washington Square Management Consulting Co-President Caroline Lee—who likewise discovered a love for psychology young but, in contrast, initially did believe she would stake her claim as a therapist.

Slowly, though, the scope of her ambition outgrew the original vision.

“As a therapist, you can really only influence one client at a time,” she says. “And that is amazing, important work that changes lives. But when I found I-O, I was really drawn to the idea that you could take the tools psychology has developed and affect an entire company’s processes and culture”—and, by extension, the lives of countless employees— “for the better. I started to look at the HR office differently—to see it as a place where you could help people have more enjoyable, fulfilling working lives.”

The OZ project fits squarely within these goals.

“We’re very grateful to have been entrusted with building this project,” Lee, who credits her own accomplished parents—mother, pharmacist; father, doctor—with orienting her towards excellence and success in whatever she chose, says. “It’s been a fantastic experience to explore the way these resources can be channeled toward positive ends out in the real world and produce something useful. I feel like we’ve all learned a lot.”

“The experience has been great,” Maitz adds. “It’s a small but very motivated group. I really like working with everybody. The atmosphere is very collaborative and it’s nice to be able to share and develop ideas. That’s been particularly true on this project.”

Count OZ Chief Transformation Officer and New York University Professor Dr. Paul J. Bailo among the believers.

“Thriving beyond borders and across academic disciplines, New York University graduate students are the catalyst to developing a cutting-edge industry performance model for OZ digital consulting,” Bailo says. “Never before have I seen a group of students so simultaneously dedicated, hard-working, and tenacious. They are an inspiration to all of us!”

“Kassandra and Caroline—as well as their entire team—are mature beyond their years,” OZ Chief Revenue Officer Doug Cohen—who, along with OZ Global Insurance Practice President Mark Smith—has worked closely with the pair throughout the project—agrees. “They provided a level of professionalism, attention to detail, enthusiasm, and ultimately a great product, that top-tier consultants with years of experience would be hard-pressed to match. I’ve no doubt they will be exceptionally successful in their chosen field. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with them.”

As Matiz and Lee focus on bringing their studies to a successful conclusion, both believe the deep dive they’re conducting on data storage capabilities, data governance, data analytics, and more with Washington Square Management Consulting for OZ will serve them well.

The future is bright.

“Right now, I’m looking at talent acquisition roles,” Lee says. “I’d like to eventually analyze talent acquisition processes for a company and work to improve that for both employer and employee.”

“I’m interested in researching data analytics to help stakeholders strategize solutions and improvements,” Matiz adds. “The details are definitely a little clearer to me after this project.”