May 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 this is not an easy task given our varied backgrounds. Yet, this diversity can become a source of strength if we find a way to transform potential into action by becoming involved in the many ways he describes. On the other hand, how should our section evolve to communicate with members? Should we consider social media? How can we attract younger actuaries as well as international practitioners? How can we make the concept of entrepreneurship relevant to everybody, not only to sole practitioners? These questions are worth pondering. Take the last one for example. Can an actuary become more valuable in the eyes of the employer if she thinks like an entrepreneur?

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

  • Leadership―Ken Mitchell discusses two overlapping approaches to leadership, one of which focuses on production whereas the other focuses on concern for people. Their combination result in leaders that tend to be benevolent, "laissez-faire," autocratic, or team builder. Which one do you think works best and why? Can you identify with any of these styles? Do you have strong views on the subject? Do you think that leadership matters in business affairs or do you think that success is independent of leadership style? Can you think of experiences that support your views?
  • Leading and Learning―Can leading and learning be the tools to deal with a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world? If so, how can leadership skills be developed? What is the best way of learning (no, it is not memorizing lists)? Jim Rush, Kerry Bunker, and Art Gechman make compelling arguments for fostering adaptability, building resilience and developing competence. But, they point out, there is a price to pay, at least in the short run. A lot of food for thought in this article.
  • Change―Honestly, what is the percentage of people you know that are comfortable with change? Not many perhaps because change is often equated with threats. Yet, we all know that the ability to adapt can make the difference between success and failure. This is true about companies, individuals, and professions. Jay Vogt discusses how leaders can help others become comfortable with change. The first step is education, not persuasion as generally assumed. And there is more, a lot more. This is why you should read Jay's thoughtful article.

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 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 president of Axiom Actuarial Consulting, LLC. He may be reached at