David M. Dillon, FSA 2004, MAAA
Lewis & Ellis, Inc.
Senior Vice President & Principal
Brief description of the type of work you currently do:
Heavily involved with the regulation of health insurance (including the ACA), product development, and the valuation of health liabilities.
Primary Area of Practice:
Other Areas of Practice/Interests:
Why do you want to be on the Board?
For many years I’ve worked pro-actively to advance the SOA’s mission and vision of informing the public’s understanding of societal issues. I have achieved this by volunteer leadership, extensive media interviews on behalf of the SOA regarding healthcare reform, and the launch of a strategic health initiative directed at all SOA stakeholders. Board service is a natural next step for me to reach actuaries of all disciplines. I would like to serve on the Board to help strengthen our profession by helping members and candidates build the knowledge and perspective regarding the business and societal issues that impact the profession.
Ethics and Transparency
Ethics and transparency are essential to professional practice and service on the Board. How have you demonstrated ethics and transparency in the past? How will your own ethics and views on transparency influence your decisions and actions as a member of the SOA Board?
The Board must have the trust of its members that it is making the right strategic decisions for the profession.
As a consulting actuary, I am required to demonstrate transparency and ethical behavior to maintain trust with my clients. I have been put in multiple situations where clients have had opposing views of an issue. In these cases, my decisions could be viewed as beneficial to one party and detrimental to another. When this occurs, I disclose to all parties in a clear and consistent manner my involvement in the matter so that everyone affected by a decision can evaluate all potential consequences. By agreeing to have me perform the actuarial services, my clients’ actions demonstrate that they have faith in my ethics and they believe that I will act in an open, honest, transparent, and fair manner to all parties.
If elected I would transfer this same high level of ethical standards and transparency to the Board of Directors. I would work to uphold the integrity of our profession by focusing on ethical and transparent communication to members regarding the strategic direction of the SOA.
Collaborative working relationships are essential to the governance function of the SOA Board of Directors, especially as board members work with each other, volunteers, and staff to achieve the strategic goals and mission of SOA. Describe a situation from either your professional or volunteer experiences that demonstrated you are a team player
For the SOA Board to succeed in fulfilling its mission and vision, Board members must respect others and must consistently put the interest of the SOA above personal preferences. Practically speaking, this means I will work efficiently and respectfully with other people who have different responsibilities, backgrounds, objectives, and/or areas of expertise.
As an actuary who specializes in healthcare reform, there have been many occasions in which I have held the responsibility to serve as an objective facilitator for a group with a diverse set of opinions. It was my job to objectively guide those diverse views and opinions to a consensus.
An example of this is when I advised a state-based healthcare reform committee made up of representatives from a wide array of backgrounds, priorities, and political agendas. In my role, it was critical that I provided objective services. This included:
- Collaborating with committee members to understand the implications of potential decisions;
- Making the objective calculations required to analyze various alternatives;
- Explaining the pros and cons of alternative scenarios to stakeholders with varying views; and
- Responding to questions from committee members with contrary positions and/or objectives.
Although my personal views, beliefs, and areas of expertise may have varied from some of the committee members, I succeeded in consistently being objective and unbiased in analyzing and presenting potential solutions, and being collaborative and respectful of others’ opinions.
The above success demonstrates my ability to work with a diverse group of people to understand common objectives and implement strategic decisions successfully. I believe this experience translates directly to the role of the SOA Board. As I do consistently in other professional roles, I intend to use a collaborative and respectful approach in executing my duties and responsibilities as a member of the Board.
Board members need to exhibit curiosity and a desire to learn about areas that may potentially impact the SOA and the profession. How do you stay informed about what is going on nationally and internationally, and how do you apply that knowledge into your work with SOA and the profession?
In an evolving landscape, it is important for actuaries to provide knowledge and perspective regarding financial and societal issues to all SOA members. I stay informed by reading daily industry articles, monitoring my vast LinkedIn network, and attending industry conferences. In addition to the ever-changing health insurance market, I also follow broader insurance issues e.g. Blockchain and InsurTech. While these may not currently affect my day-to-day, I realize that they could ultimately impact the entire actuarial industry significantly.
I believe that intellectual engagement not only involves the gathering of knowledge, but it also involves communicating that knowledge to others. I consistently use social media to inform my clients and actuarial network of issues that I believe may be of interest to them.
I have also found that a great way to expand one’s knowledge and understanding across the actuarial and insurance industries is to be an active volunteer who engages with the industry. Recent activities include:
- Leading the Health Section Strategic Initiative Commercial Healthcare: What’s Next? Through thought leadership, the initiative has helped inform actuaries and the public about societal issues that may potentially impact them.
- Being a member of the SOA Health Section Think Tank on healthcare reform issues. This group helps shape the communication of issues that could impact the industry in both the short-term and long-term.
- Being the SOA’s primary liaison to the media regarding health insurance issues. Through this endeavor, I have engaged with the public regarding important societal issues in publications such as, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
I believe that my active engagement allows me to be knowledgeable on a diverse set of issues impacting the industry as well as being informed on emerging issues that might impact the industry in the future in an evolving marketplace.
Respectful and prudent use of resources is an important function of all board members. Explain how you have demonstrated this characteristic in either your work or volunteer experiences and how it will carry over to your role on the SOA Board.
Stewardship is based on an understanding that leadership is a temporary role that is survived by the lifespan of an organization. A leader is performing the act of stewardship whenever he or she is actively preparing for an organization’s future vitality.
In my role as an actuary who assists governmental agencies, the prudent allocation of financial resources is required because public funds are limited and highly scrutinized. Each assignment requires diligence regarding project’s details and frequent communications so that the client agency gets a high-level return on investment. Each assignment includes providing regular and consistent updates of the client’s consulting fees so there are no surprises. In addition, I use frequent communication with the client to discuss their satisfaction with the money being spent on each project.
In addition to financial prudence, managing human resources is a key to success. The size and complexity of the issues being addressed cannot be done successfully by the Board and the SOA leadership alone. Therefore, the time availability of the SOA’s volunteers and staff must be considered. While utilizing these resources, the Board cannot waste the time of volunteers. The Board must effectively and efficiently focus on the primary mission to provide research and education to its membership.
Stewardship involves the careful management of something entrusted to one’s care. The more than 28,000 members of SOA entrust the future of their organization – and to a large extent the future of the profession – to its Board. This responsibility cannot be taken lightly, which is why the Board must welcome scrutiny and input by all its members when it comes to the allocation of resources. While on the Board, I will use this approach for a respectful and prudent use of resources to serve the SOA membership.
Provide a brief description of your professional background and the type of work you currently do and explain how these experiences have prepared you for the Elected Board Member role.
I have worked for 19 years as a consultant in the Dallas office of Lewis & Ellis, Inc. The last 12 years as a principal. I primarily work with health insurance companies and governmental agencies. For insurance companies, I focus on product development. For governmental agencies, I primarily focus on rate review, financial analysis, and audit work.
Through my experiences interacting with many diverse clients, I have learned that there is a myriad of leadership styles that must be utilized when joining a Board. Through my experiences I have learned that an approach should meet the needs of the organization and its members, not just the personalities of the board members.
When clients and I collaborate to solve a problem, we focus not only incremental improvements or solutions, but long-term transformations. These experiences will help me implement the SOA’s strategic plan due to my commitment to taking the long view while integrating the different opinions of a diverse group of people. To do this, transformations must be meaningful. People will go to extraordinary lengths for causes they believe in.
I have been blessed to work with a wide range of clients which has helped me broaden my view of issues. I realize that the guidance and thoughts of others help me achieve optimal solutions for my clients. Through these interactions, I have learned that people striving for change must relentlessly pursue and focus on the positive impact their decisions will make. There is no substitute for leaders rolling up their sleeves and getting personally involved when the guidance of a large organization is at stake.
I believe that my experience working with a diverse set of clients who have a wide range of problems, opinions and priorities has prepared me well to serve a membership as diverse as the SOA.
Volunteer and Governance Experience
Describe how your previous volunteer, personal and governance experiences would strengthen your contributions to the SOA Board and organization.
At age 13 my father introduced me to the chief actuary of his employer. That experience showed me how just one actuary’s volunteer efforts can help grow the profession. Since that time, I have been dogged in sharing my passion by helping others become an actuary.
In addition to speaking at colleges about the profession, I currently lead my firm’s high school internship program. I work with Dallas school districts to expose students to the actuarial profession. Students get first-hand experience and they begin to learn the foundational knowledge necessary to become an actuary. I am proud to say there are participants who have decided to pursue actuarial careers.
I also enjoy sharing my passion for the actuarial profession by volunteering. I have been honored that my recent efforts have been recognized by the SOA. In 2017, I was a recipient of an Outstanding Volunteer Award. Also in 2017, I was a recipient of Outstanding Session Awards for both the Health and Annual meetings.
I believe that my passion for the actuarial profession and my volunteer efforts demonstrate that I will do everything I can to serve the SOA Board and the actuaries for whom the Board serves.