August 2013

From the Editor

By Carlos Fuentes

The Entrepreneurial Actuaries Section (EAS) continuously strives to be relevant to its members. The section’s chairperson, Joeff Williams, notes that our section’s “likability factor” (read the newsletter for a definition of the term) has improved from 73 percent in 2001 to 78 percent in 2012. What can we do to sustain this trend? Joeff discusses several ideas, some in the drawing board phase, some in implementation phase, all of them targeted to serve the entrepreneurial community. Do you have specific feedback on any of them? Do you think we are missing something important? Do you have suggestions? Please share them with us.

This month we offer food for thought on the following topics:

  • Leadership―Nick Jacobi recounts the time when early in his career his coach told him that he was not CEO material. You may think it odd, but the comment was intended as a compliment—and it was. You see, recognizing that one is not CEO material and in general, taking a hard look at reality, actually can enhance one’s chances to succeed, partly because the definition of success is personal and it involves a variety of considerations, not just money and title. Furthermore, don’t forget that there are many effective ways to lead, even for those who are not CEOs such as independent actuaries. Leadership is not necessarily a matter of organization charts.
  • Success in a Changing Economy―Many feel the more we evolve the more we change, and the more we change the more we evolve. Does that mean everything changes, even principles? No, explains Meridith Elliott Powell, there are deceptively simple ways of remaining relevant even in uncertain environments such as ours. Meridith shares with us three ideas that entrepreneurs and business leaders should keep in mind as they navigate the ever changing economic landscape.
  • The Healthcare Journey Continues―Michael Frank and his associate Don Rusconi continue teaching Actuarial Science at Columbia University. Their approach blends established actuarial principles with the realities of the business world. As Michael explains, one of the purposes of this course is to help students make progress in their careers, not just with the exams. Do you have questions, comments or suggestions on how practicing actuaries can become involved in the education of aspiring actuaries? Would you like to teach or somehow support this initiative? Michael, Don Rusconi, and Noor Rajah, the program director of the Actuarial Program at Columbia University, would love to hear from you.

Are there ideas in this issue that resonate with you? Do you have questions for the authors? What are your views about leadership? Is there a topic that you would like to discuss? Can you remember advice that proved valuable in your career? Are there any “truths” that held you back in your career? What are your views about the future of the actuarial profession? How can we help shape that future? What can the section do to be more relevant to your career? We would like to hear from you.

Carlos Fuentes, FSA, MAAA, FCA, MBA, MS, is vice president at Aon Hewitt. He may be reached at