Editor's Note

A Fresh Year, a Fresh Start

A Fresh Year, a Fresh Start

By Eric P. Harding

Sometimes, the best-laid plans fall apart. The holiday surprise gift you spent hours planning is ruined by an errant email. The New Year’s party you were looking forward to gets canceled—Covid.

The relationship everyone thought would go the distance … doesn’t.

But as the late-20th-­century philosophers posited, “I get knocked down, but I get up again.” Adversity happens to everyone; it’s how you handle it that matters.

That holiday gift is still a thoughtful gesture, surprise or not. And maybe you used your newfound free time on New Year’s Eve to do some reflecting on how you’d like the coming year to unfold.

And the end of that relationship? Just opens you up to new possibilities, new opportunities. Sure, there’s a sadness that something is ending. But there’s also a lightness, a kind of joy at the possibilities of the future. I believe that keeping that mindset—focusing on the potential rather than getting bogged down in what is lost—is the key to real personal growth.

This issue’s features all deal with navigating new challenges—and opportunities—proactively and positively.

Our first feature this issue, “AI and the Actuary of Tomorrow,” delves into the hot topic of the moment—artificial intelligence—and whether that tech is an existential threat or a time-saving boon. In a series of insightful interviews, writer John Divine uncovers some prevailing opinions on these powerful new tools … and the consensus may surprise you.

In “Your Membership in Action—The Academy in 2024,” Contingencies spoke with the six vice presidents who lead the dozens of Academy volunteer committees that produce the work each year that all actuaries can be proud of. From existing workstreams that help practitioners do their jobs to new initiatives aimed at equity and fairness, these capsules provide a good snapshot of the priorities for the year ahead.

In our third feature, we take a look at Academy from the inside—from the third floor of 1850 M Street NW in Washington, D.C., to be exact. “Putting It to Work” outlines how the Academy staff helps support the mission to serve the public and the U.S. actuarial profession. Each department is aligned with this overall charge, and this feature examines how they all fit together.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you to new Academy President Lisa Slotznick’s first President’s Message. In it, she discusses the Academy’s new Competency Framework and evolving membership requirements—be sure to check it out.

And finally, eagle-eyed readers will notice that some department names have changed with this issue. Fear not; the content remains the same, but we realigned the names a bit—a fresh start for 2024.

Thank you, as ever, for reading. I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and joy-filled 2024.

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