February 2015

From the Editors

By Stephen James and Carlos Fuentes

ind-con-stephen-jamesind-2012-iss38-fuentesThe professional life of many actuaries revolves around pricing products, estimating liabilities, developing projections, etc. But this is the tip of the iceberg. Are there other skills, small or large that we should cultivate? Our three authors in the current issue of The Independent Consultant, two of whom are not actuaries, respond in the affirmative. Lisa Boero reflects on how she has managed to sustain her two careers and how each has benefited the other. Christine Ofbeck describes the elements of an elevator speech and emphasizes that effectiveness requires more than a good line. Shelly Hall tackles underperformance head-on and gives advice on how to deal with these unfortunate situations.
• Lessons From My Double Life―Lisa Boero lives a double life. During the day she is an attorney, in the evenings she is a mystery writer. What is the advice to actuaries from someone who spends a fair amount of time in each of her two professions and is successful in both? Can we benefit from putting our soul into a hobby? How can a hobby become an important part of our lives? How can rigid writing (say, ACA regulation) coexist with creative fiction? What is the name of the nerdy girl? Is she an actuary? If not, will Lisa write a mystery book that involves one? If not, would you? 
• Elevator Speech―Napoleon spent much time preparing but was quick to act when the opportunity presented itself. Would you be able to deliver a convincing elevator speech without preparation? No. Is crafting a good story all you need to increase your chances of making a good impression in those 30 critical seconds? No. Christine Ofbeck, who along with Andy Sforzini and Chris Raham, presented "The Art of the Elevator Speech" at the 2014 SOA Annual Meeting, describes in this insightful article the elements of a well-executed min-speech.
• Termination: Oh Yeah?―What Are You Going To Do About It!―Shelley Hall discusses one of the unpalatable areas of management that, nonetheless, is of prime importance to the proper functioning of any organization: underperformance. What is the key to deal with this problem? According to Shelley, the main ingredient is accountability on both parties, the manager and the employee. To be effective, you must understand that accountability may take both of you in more than one path. When that happens, stay on course and consider the advice given in this article.
Are there ideas in this issue that resonate with you? Do you have questions for the authors? 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? Is there anything you believe every actuary should know, but many don’t? What can the section do to be more relevant to your career? We would like to hear from you.

Stephen James, FSA, FCIA, can be reached at sajinvictoria@shaw.ca.
Carlos Fuentes, FSA, MAAA, FCA, MBA, MS, is managing partner at Axiom Actuarial Consulting. He can be reached at carlos_fuentes@aya.yale.edu.