WHAT LED YOU TO BECOME AN ACTUARY? AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE PROFESSION?
I considered being an engineer, but I chose to be an actuary for three reasons:
- I love math, and being an actuary was a chance to use problem-solving techniques every day.
- The actuarial field offered so much flexibility in schedule and discipline. My actuarial function has changed over the years. For nearly 25 years, I worked in the life insurance industry, working full-time and part-time while I raised a family. For the past seven years, I have worked in regulatory consulting.
- It gave me greater control over my initial career path through passing exams and work experience. It required a large commitment to both work and study, which at times was very challenging.
DESCRIBE A PROFESSIONALISM-RELATED CHALLENGE THAT YOU HAVE FACED IN YOUR CAREER. HOW DID YOU HANDLE IT?
I remember how difficult it was starting in the field, trying to obtain the foundational industry knowledge and skills that experienced actuaries have. At times, I did not know how I should approach assigned projects. In hindsight, I should have asked for more guidance. But I thought I was taking up too much of the credentialed actuaries’ time. Over time, I forced myself out of my comfort zone and asked for input. Through these experiences, I learned how important it is to take the time to share one’s experience and knowledge with new and aspiring actuaries.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU WISH YOU WERE GIVEN WHEN YOU WERE AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CAREER?
Do everything sooner! Pass exams sooner. Get an internship sooner or more internships, if possible. Volunteer sooner. Take on new challenges or new projects, which have not been tried before, sooner.
TELL US ABOUT A TIME WHERE YOUR ACTUARIAL EXPERTISE INFLUENCED AN IMPORTANT DECISION IN YOUR WORKPLACE.
Over the years, I have been faced with day-to-day challenges to implement regulation in real-world situations. There are times when an actuary needs to make an informed decision without knowing exactly what to do. Sometimes the answers are not readily there. Developing a peer group in your workplace or via volunteering can help you become aware of potential risks and considerations you might not have thought of on your own. You can present a better formed and more holistic solution.
For example, when working in the life insurance industry, I was asked to implement variable annuity regulation changes (Actuarial Guideline XLIII, at the time). I worked with a team of actuaries. We had numerous discussions about how the regulation changes should be implemented. I used my prior experience working with annuities to suggest changes and justify my suggestions to others. Many of my suggestions were implemented. Now I use that experience as I review the work of others implementing Valuation Manual-21.
To bring it back to the Academy, I am an active volunteer with the Life Practice Council’s Variable Annuity Reserve and Capital Work Group. The work group created a practice note to assist actuaries working in the trenches.
WHAT IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST LESSONS YOU’VE LEARNED IN YOUR CAREER?
Being an actuary offers a lifelong opportunity to make a difference. We perform complex financial analysis. We engage in the dialogue needed to protect the public, policyholders, investors, and employees. Also, our work protects the insurance industry, so it consistently delivers on its promise to pay policyholders. The work actuaries perform help to ensure the public maintains steadfast confidence in the insurance industry across all economic environments. Put simply, actuarial work is important to society.
WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST ABOUT YOUR ACADEMY MEMBERSHIP?
I value most the opportunity to be involved in economic and societal issues. We need to maintain a seat at the table in these types of discussions because actuaries offer distinct knowledge and perspectives.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE ANYTHING ELSE WITH ASPIRING OR NEW ACTUARIES, OR THOSE INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING FOR THE ACADEMY?
When I started my career, I only knew actuaries at my company. I decided the best way to meet actuaries across all disciplines (health, pension, life/annuities, etc.) was to volunteer. I was nervous to reach out to established credentialed actuaries and ask if I could join in. I thought I needed to be an expert but learned quickly this is not the case. There are many ways to get involved in volunteering—and starting in your local community is a great option. Also, mentoring students at work or through the Actuarial Foundation meets a critical industry need, while expanding your professional network.
Academy work groups share expertise and interact with actuaries across the United States. I find it exciting to witness aspiring and new actuaries volunteering and sharing new ideas. With so many choices, you can explore your passions and find an actuarial volunteer opportunity that aligns with your values and skills.
SHARE A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR HOBBIES OR OTHER PERSONAL INTERESTS?
When I am not working or volunteering, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, being active (cycling, walking, yoga), traveling to new places, meeting new people, and educating myself about financial topics, such as the economic markets and financial planning. I love the beach and can also be found watching the NFL (Go Philadelphia Eagles!) and participating in fantasy football!