February 2013

Letter from the Chair

By Steve Finn

Steve FinnIt is a great honor and privilege to serve as the chairperson for this year’s Technology Section. Many hard working people have stepped into this role and have helped to continue the growth and development of our section, and I hope to do the same. However, before we go any further, there is one thing I would like to admit: Technology scares me.

Well, perhaps “scares” is a little too strong of a word. I would like to think I am better off than our 23rd President, Benjamin Harrison. He was the first president to have electricity installed in the White House, but both he and his wife were afraid of being electrocuted, so they allegedly had staff members turn lights on and off for them, and they would often sleep with the lights on.

And I would disagree with Conrad Gessner, a noted Swiss biologist, who was concerned that a new invention in his time would lead to an overload of information that would be “confusing and harmful” to the mind. The invention in question? The printing press.

It seems that throughout history, as technological advances come to light, there is always a certain initial level of mistrust, skepticism, and even fear associated with these advances. I believe that these fears come less from the new development itself, but more from the idea of change. While some people can embrace change, it can be scary for those who are used to their “tried and true” methods and processes, and are either reluctant or unwilling to move forward. It probably is not a coincidence that you cannot spell “technological” without the words “change tool.”

So for me, while technology and the element of change can be a daunting prospect, I hope that I can be a tool of change as I move forward in my role this year. I would like to thank Eddie Smith, last year’s chairperson, for his tireless efforts over the last 12 months. I am very fortunate that Eddie has one more year on the council to help guide me as I try to fill his very large shoes. Eddie and I are joined this year with returning council members Andrew Chan (webinars), Rich Junker (CompAct newsletter), Albert Moore (vice-chair), and Chris Olechowski (Annual Meeting coordinator).

Because of a tie in the recent section elections, we are lucky to have four new members join the Technology Section Council for the start of their three-year term as council members. They are: William Chen (secretary/treasurer), Joe Chou (Spring and Other Meeting coordinator), Ben Kester (webinars), and Jenn Nam (Annual Meeting coordinator). In addition, Paul Ramirez has joined us as a friend of the council. He will take on the role of co-editor of CompAct newsletter. We welcome these new council members and thank them for embracing change by seeking and winning election to the council.

How about you? We encourage you to think about change in your life. If you are not currently a member of the Technology Section, think about joining us as a section member when you are paying your SOA dues. If you already are a member, think about writing an article for CompAct, becoming a friend of the section, or even running for a council position next year, so that you can be a tool for change, as we continue to grow and develop our section. I hope you enjoy the articles in this quarter’s CompAct, and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about the Technology Section.

Steve Finn, FSA, MAAA, is a senior staff actuary at Ameriprise Financial in Minneapolis, MN. He can be contacted at steve.j.finn@ampf.com.