SOA at Work: Programs and Initiatives

The SOA at Work

Programs and Initiatives

By Greg Heidrich


THIS MONTH'S SOA AT WORK COLUMN describes several of our important new initiatives, including our Ph.D. Stipend Program, our 10 key strategic initiatives, and lists a number of upcoming SOA conferences.

The Ph.D. Stipend Program is the first public manifestation of a broad new SOA initiative. Like any profession, we need a vibrant, growing academic base to thrive—students well-trained in actuarial concepts, ready to move through their exams, and excited about the profession. Strong actuarial science programs produce students deeply committed to the profession, who understand its history and are primed to become actuarial leaders. The academic community produces important new research, often developing concepts and methods that will generate breakthrough practice applications.

The Ph.D. Stipend Program also supports the academic community by giving financial assistance to students pursuing both a doctoral degree in actuarial science or a related discipline and also an actuarial designation. The stipends will provide support for up to four years of study and, we believe, encourage bright students to enter teaching and research for the profession.

This month's column by President Cecil Bykerk discusses another SOA effort—building our relationship with the academic community, namely our new University Outreach Program. Under this program, SOA staff and members visit a number of universities to meet actuarial science faculty and students, discuss the SOA's examination system, and answer questions. We began this program last year and met many enthusiastic students who truly appreciated the chance to meet SOA leaders, those who have gone through the program, and those who administer the examination system. We also use these visits to meet students outside the actuarial science program who may be a good fit for the profession, and encourage them to think about becoming an actuary. If you're asked to participate in a university visit, please consider getting involved. You'll be building the future of your profession, meeting students interested in hearing about your experiences, and, from what I've heard, it's a lot of fun!

This month's SOA At Work also notes that we've published a list of the 10 key strategic initiatives recently adopted by the Board. Our focus now is on these 10 initiatives—we have many ambitious, multi-year efforts that will receive our attention after the completion of this first set. All these initiatives will transform the SOA and many aspects of the profession. We've begun work on the initiatives and will continue to find opportunities to update you on their progress. In addition, we're building new measures to monitor the advancements we make and are setting targets to be achieved by 2012, the year when we will have a full review of the new plan. I invite you to review the initiatives and send your comments to me or your elected leaders.

Finally, I want to take a minute to note the list of important upcoming conferences. We live in difficult economic times and neither our members, nor the SOA as an institution, are immune from economic pressure. We will continue to make our conferences relevant and valuable. We're also working to produce more webcasts and other distance learning options to meet your continuing education needs. In these times, one of the best—and wisest—things any professional can do is gain new skills and sharpen existing skills, broaden his or her knowledge, and tend to his or her network of professional contacts. Attending SOA conferences and taking advantage of continuing education opportunities are some of the best ways you can do this and I hope you'll use them to your professional advantage. You'll never regret making this investment in your career!

SOA Chief Executive Officer Greg Heidrich

SOA Creates Doctoral Stipend Program

The SOA established the Doctoral Stipend Program to increase the number of academic actuaries who hold a Ph.D. and an actuarial designation, and who intend to pursue academic careers in North America. The program is designed to provide stipends to doctoral candidates who will, through their studies, address research and education needs of the profession, including both the theoretical and practical aspects. The first stipend recipients will be announced in April 2009. For more information on the Doctoral Stipend Program, please visit and click on Education, University/College Resources and SOA Doctoral Stipend Program under Academic Initiatives.

SOA Posts 10 New Initiatives On Web Site

If you missed SOA President Cecil Bykerk's overview of the 10 new initiatives endorsed by the Board of Directors in the last issue of The Actuary, you can now find them online at by clicking on Leadership and Current Initiatives. This portfolio of strategic and operational initiatives is something the board has never done. Although the SOA has always had a variety of timely, important and valuable initiatives, this is the first time the Board has endorsed a package of initiatives. Check out these initiatives to learn about how we're working to improve the profession and enhance your educational and career opportunities.


The Actuarial Profession In The News


The Wall Street Journal Names Actuary as One of Top Career Choices The Journal listed actuary as No. 2 in best occupations in the United States. To view the full article, visit and click on Actuaries in the News.

U.S. News & World Report Includes Actuary In Job Descriptions List The magazine posted the actuary job profile in its Job Universe section. Read this article by visiting and clicking on Actuaries in the News.

NAIC Names Asa To Ceo Position The National Association of Insurance Commissioners appointed Therese Vaughan chief executive officer as of Feb. 18. Learn more details by going to and clicking on Actuaries in the News and Industry News.

Newsday Quotes Soa Staff Fellow, Highlights Retirement Report The piece featured Andrew Peterson and stats from the Three Phases of Retirement report. Read this piece by visiting and clicking on Actuaries in the News.

Forbes.Com Features FSA interviewed Jim Miles for this article on best careers for college graduates. Check out the full article by visiting and clicking on Actuaries in the News.


SOA Educational Opportunities


April 29–May 1
Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers
Chicago, IL


May 18–19
Summit Executive Centre
Chicago, IL


May 18–19
Denver Marriott City Center
Denver, CO


May 19–20
Denver Marriott City Center
Denver, CO


May 28–29
Westin City Center
Washington, DC


June 8–10
The Westin Harbour Castle
Toronto, ON Canada


June 29–30
Hyatt Century Plaza
Los Angeles, CA