How to become an actuarial leader
What is your position at RGA?
I am Chief Actuary and Senior Vice President for RGA’s U.S. Group Reinsurance Division.
What is your professional background? How did you come to this position?
My background is diverse – with past roles in pricing, valuation, numerous products, direct insurance, consulting, and now reinsurance. That diverse background has given me unique perspectives for problem solving. I would likewise advise other actuaries to embrace opportunities to work in a variety of roles.
What are the main tasks you do in your daily work?
I oversee pricing and product development functions for my division. I am also responsible for developing management reporting tools to provide deeper insight into what is working well in our portfolio, and what might need more attention. I also have a role in risk management for our division.
What makes an actuary’s job exciting? What makes your job special?
The skills that come naturally to most actuaries are the technical skills – applying mathematics, statistics, and technology. Since actuaries use exactly those skills, that was very appealing to me when I was considering career options. However, the skills that distinguish actuarial leaders are the softer skills – people skills, effective writing, thoughtful presentations. The most fulfilling projects I work on are those where I “marry up” the two – for example, applying technical skills to develop a persuasive presentation for a client, while keeping mindful of the background of the audience.
What tips do you have for graduates on their way into professional life?
I made the mistake of focusing too much on my coursework, and not enough on planning my first job after graduation. I was extremely fortunate that I had terrific professors who had my back, steering me toward an actuarial career despite my lack of preparation. My advice would be to carve out time during years 1 and 2 of college to develop a plan for your first job, whatever career you consider.
What are your favorite things to do outside of your day-to-day career?
Sports, sports, sports. When I was in school I played every sport I could. When my kids were in school, I coached every sport they played. Now I ski and run to keep active. Oh, and during the past COVID year, I played my guitar more than ever before.