September 2014

Letter from the Editor

By Michelle Krysiak

Dear MaD Section Members—

This is my first-ever and likely only “Letter from the Editor” so I wanted to share a related story. While I was growing up my mom always thought I was going to be the next Barbara Walters or newspaper editor. I think she had these imaginative thoughts because when we played the game of “Careers,” I always wanted to be the journalist. I do not remember much about the game except for the fact I always wanted to be the journalist who made very little money compared to the other careers. That did not deter me. I liked the idea of it. Being a journalist sounded fun and interesting—reporting about the exciting events and/or people of the day. This career idea was not without its conflicts. I was not a fan of reading, did not like the exercise of looking up vocabulary words, and was and still am less than enthused when presenting in front of an audience. My journalistic skills are definitely lacking, but yet I find myself on these thankfully rare occasions, in these journalistic roles. Moms sometimes do have that special intuition.

Life took me in another direction. I studied to be an actuary—a safe career suited for those who tend to be more on the introverted side (so they say). So why do I find myself writing this letter? 1) Because I am nice. 2) Because I cannot say no. 3) Because I want to give back to my profession. 4) Because I was roped into it, which is almost the same point as 2. In the past four years as a consultant, I have presented at two meetings and have authored or co-authored three articles for various newsletters. This is my fourth. That is nothing relative to what many of my co-workers have published and presented. Point being, just because we have a title of actuary, we actually have similar responsibilities employed by persons in different careers. In this case, I feel more like a journalist than an actuary. I am glad I am more often an actuary.

All of this was said as an ice breaker and to share some random thoughts I had. After all, isn’t that what editors tend to do at the beginning of their magazines?

I do have a couple of goals I would like to accomplish from writing this: 1) I would like to get a sense for how many people are reading NewsDirect, the semiannual publication produced by the Marketing and Distribution (MaD) Section; and 2) I would like to promote getting involved in the Society of Actuaries (SOA) in one role or another besides simply being a member.

The SOA may have a way of tracking readership; but for my own purposes, I would like to get feedback. I realize this personal study is not going to be without a certain margin of error. In order to respond to this survey to let me know that you read the MaD newsletter, please:

  1. Go to the Links section (lower left) of the newsletter and click on Contact Us.
  2. Click on Michelle Krysiak, the second name under Council Members or under Newsletter Editor.
  3. Type in the subject line, “Yes I read NewsDirect” and hit send (if not moving to step 4).
  4. Feel free to also provide any feedback in the body of the email relative to anything MaD does or does not do, including your thoughts on the newsletter and hit send.

In order to accomplish my second goal, I would like to briefly describe my experience with MaD and being a section council member over the past year and a half. It all began when I was approached in the spring of 2012 by a then-current council member asking me if I was interested in running as a MaD Section Council candidate. He thought it would be good exposure and great experience for a newly hired consultant to be involved in a council. After 18 years of being an SOA member, I wanted to give back to my profession. I do recall being pretty certain I was not going to be elected and I was going to be OK with it. At the same time, I worried I was going to be upset because I do not like losing. It turned out OK. I made the cut.

My first face-to-face meeting was in D.C. at the annual meeting in the fall of 2012. I met a group of very motivated individuals (fellow actuaries and SOA staff members), most with a nice sense of humor, a casual attitude, and a team spirit. My second face-to-face meeting in San Diego in the fall of 2013 was better than the first. I met more new people, but also a group of now-familiar faces. Several were comfortable enough with me to harass me for showing up late and in less than professional attire. You see the meeting was scheduled to begin right as the Chicago Bears game was ending. I arrived to the meeting in my Devin Hester jersey (who is no longer with the Bears as of this year) with sweat pouring down my face. Sprinting across downtown San Diego in 90-degree southern California heat tends to yield those consequences. I do have my priorities—Chicago Bears above all else!!! I fear I may have the same conflict in Orlando this year. The saving grace is our networking event is going to be football-themed so I may be appropriately attired!

To me, the best perk of being a part of the council is the people you meet. You talk with them monthly, sometimes more often if working on a webcast, newsletter or presentation, and get the opportunity to meet them face to face at least once a year. Another benefit of volunteering for the council is being involved in producing meaningful educational venues for people with similar interests. Now, not all webcasts and newsletter articles (this one for example) provide insights to the next big thing in insurance, but they do provide an opportunity to make more contacts within the industry while recruiting presenters and authors. They also provide an educational experience—information gained from the event or lessons learned from mistakes made while setting up the event. As a council member, there are other ancillary benefits, like a free dinner here or there, an extra ribbon on your name tag at the annual meetings, a thank you gift for your service, and a more interesting resume.

If you are a person with a message to share or a big idea to change the industry, being a section member or on a council provides a great sounding board and venue for getting your message out in various media forms. If you consider yourself somewhat shy and insecure when in the professional environment, being involved in a section is a low-stress way to meet others and learn more about what is happening inside the profession. Joining a section and/or being elected to a section council is a worthwhile proposition if you are willing to offer some of your spare time and you like people. I have made some great friends who I think I will have for a long time and you cannot put a price on friendship.

Choose to volunteer however you like—by writing, speaking, or helping out in other ways. As I just explained, it is quite rewarding. Please remember, I would like to hear from you. Thank you, and Go Bears!

Michelle Krysiak, FSA, MAAA is a consulting actuary with Milliman, Inc. She can be contacted at