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Co-authored by Christina Negley and Jordan Paszek.
At last month’s Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, we were each honored to become Associates of the CAS and receive our ACAS credentials. What made this time even more special was the fact that we had both followed “non-traditional” routes to join the actuarial profession. We’d like to share some of our reflections on our time at the meeting and our respective career journeys.
Christina: At the Annual Meeting, I particularly enjoyed the featured speaker, Talithia Williams. Her presentation, “Impact the Future: The Data You Could Be Using and the People You Could Be Influencing,” incorporated data about actuaries, the actuarial profession and diversity. Her session focused on minority representation in our profession, and one of her graphs illustrated the link between early exposure to it and successful completion of all actuarial exams. That graph resonated with me since my actuarial career path did not start until a couple of years after I had finished my bachelor’s degree.
I had heard of actuaries prior to graduating from college, but only in passing (and the little I had been told sounded terribly boring!). I first considered an actuarial career while pursuing a graduate degree in mathematics at Illinois State University (ISU). ISU introduced me to the variety and innovation within the actuarial field and I realized this profession matched my desire to both communicate and apply mathematics. Since beginning my career at Pinnacle, I’ve enjoyed being involved with our outreach to local college and high school students through Pinnacle U and job shadows, teaching future generations about real actuarial work, the interesting things I get to do, and which skills are required to be an actuary.
Jordan: In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I was thankful for the opportunity to speak at and facilitate an interactive session on captive pricing at November’s CAS Annual Meeting. The resulting questions and discussions opened my eyes to the fact that every actuary has a unique background – whether it be experience, specific areas of expertise or perhaps a different way of thinking. I suppose you could say my favorite part of speaking was actually listening to other actuaries’ perspectives or opinions about a subject to which I’m exposed on a daily basis.
As with Christina, I did not start my actuarial career path until after I had completed my bachelor’s degree. She and I have had engaging discussions about how our paths and backgrounds differ from the “traditional” actuarial candidate’s. I realized from a very young age that I enjoyed math because the final answer is objective and is either right or wrong (though this is hardly the case when trying to quantify risk). Having matured since then, I now understand my enjoyment of math stems from the many different ways one can arrive at a reasonable solution – similar to the numerous paths one can take to become an actuary.
In this era of big data, increasingly complex predictive analytics capabilities and insurtech, the field of actuarial science offers enticing possibilities for young people making career choices. It’s best to be as well-informed as possible when weighing career options. We both enjoy teaching students what an actuary is, what we really do and why we think it’s a great career. We also look forward to congratulating others as they become credentialed actuaries.
Jordan Paszek is a Senior Actuarial Analyst with Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, Inc. in the Bloomington, Illinois office. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from Dominican College of Blauvelt, NY and a Capstone Certificate in Actuarial Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jordan has experience in assignments involving loss reserving, funding studies, loss cost projections, captive feasibility studies, simulation methods and risk transfer analysis. He is an Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries.
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