Patricia J. Fay, FSA 1994, MAAA
Workplace Transformation Lead
Brief Description of the type of work you currently do:
Drive change management, influence and advise senior business leaders and ensure strategic success of multi-year transformation effort to improve customer experience, enhance business earnings and create a winning culture.
Primary Area of Practice:
Life, Financial Reporting
Other Areas of Practice/Interests:
Annuities, Disability Income, Long Term Care, Product Development/Pricing
Why do you want to be on the Board?
My interest in serving starts with a desire to give back to the profession that so richly rewarded me. I intend to leverage the skills developed through my section leadership experience and other non-profit board experience to contribute successfully. Just as I have adapted in my career to new, non-traditional actuarial roles, I believe the SOA must also evolve to ensure actuaries continue to be highly sought-after professionals. I am eager to participate in developing the strategic plan that will drive the future of the SOA and would be honored to serve on the board of the SOA.
Provide a brief description of your professional background and the type of work you have performed and explain how these experiences have prepared you as an Elected Board Member and qualify you in carrying out the strategic direction of the SOA.
Over my 30+ year career, I have held both technical and leadership roles spanning a wide range of products including annuities, disability, long term care, and accident insurance in the group, worksite, and individual markets. While most of my career has been focused on pricing and product development, I have also worked in financial reporting, reinsurance, risk management, and investments.
Most recently, I led a team of over 30 professionals, including actuaries, accountants, and financial analysts. In this role, I built the current strategic planning framework and advised the executive leadership team and board of directors in the development of the annual enterprise financial goals. My role also included supporting the CFO in financial communications with investors, rating agencies, and other internal and external audiences including the analysis and reporting of financial forecasts. My non-traditional roles, including my current one, include working as a change management champion with many cross-enterprise teams to develop, facilitate, and execute on lean organizational and cultural transformations.
These roles have helped me to hone the skills I will bring to the board including strategic planning, leadership, financial acumen, change management, insurance product development, pricing, and risk management.
Volunteer, Governance and Personal Experience
Describe how your volunteer, governance and personal experiences would strengthen your contributions to the SOA Board, the organization, and strategic plan execution.
I have extensive volunteer experience, however most has been focused outside of the actuarial profession where my financial and strategic experience was desperately needed. This involved many different leadership teams with different personalities, leadership traits and levels of participation giving me extensive experience in collaborating and teamwork. Additionally, my role on the board of Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center as well as my experience advising the executive leadership team of MassMutual has given me insight into the responsibilities, governance, and challenges of board positions.
My most recent experience with the Marketing and Distribution section reinvigorated my desire to volunteer with the SOA. All of these experiences have prepared me well for a position on the SOA board.
Please list your relevant volunteer experience. Please include the name of the organization, your role, and approximate dates.
- Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center, Treasurer (2016 – present)
- Par for the Horse Golf Tournament, Chair (2018 - present)
- SOA, Marketing and Distribution section, Chair, Vice-Chair & Treasurer (2017-2019)
- CT Rett Angels Golf Tournament, Chair (1997 – 2017)
- Tedx Springfield, Treasurer (2016 – 2017)
- MassMutual’s Women’s Leadership Network, Treasurer (2015 – 2016)
- Rettsyndrome.org, Regional Representative (1997 – 2004)
Ethics and Transparency
Ethics and transparency are essential to professional practice and service on the board. Discuss ethics and transparency challenges you might expect to face in your role as elected board member, and describe how you would approach these challenges.
High ethical standards are the bedrock of our profession in order to keep the trust of principals and society. Integrity is not what you do when someone is watching, it is what you do when no one is. It is what you see when you look in the mirror. It is part of our professional precepts – to act with integrity, skill, and care. As a board member, I will uphold these values in all of my actions.
Authentic leadership is part of my personal brand. I have worked to build trust within my organization and a key component of this trust comes from my transparent communication with my team, my peers, and my managers. We build a stronger community when as leaders, we model high ethical standards, and are open about the challenges we face. My approach of transparent and authentic communications has allowed me to build strong relationships quickly.
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 advance the direction of the SOA. We need both leaders and team members. Describe a situation from either your professional or volunteer experiences that demonstrated where you can be effective in each of these roles.
Over my career, I’ve been part of many cross-functional teams – both as a team member and as a leader. My work on the Marketing and Distribution section is a great example of both. I started by joining the Project Oversight group for the Middle Market Life Insurance research. Then, I joined the section leadership serving as treasurer, vice-chair, and finally as chair. In my current role, I am part of a 15-person change management team. Together, we inspire senior leaders in the organization to implement significant changes in the business. This role requires me to coach, teach, and collaborate.
Success in volunteer roles can only be achieved by developing a collaborative working relationship. I’ve led several of volunteer teams at MassMutual where I gathered a team of volunteers, set the mission and strategy, and worked together to achieve that mission. Two examples in the actuarial community were developing an actuarial communications team which is now in its seventh year, as well as building the Women in Actuarial taskforce which addresses the shortage of women in leadership and more specifically in the actuarial profession. For this taskforce, I garnered executive support for a working group and then recruited both female and male leaders. Together, we developed and implemented a list of actions. I am optimistic that the work we are doing will lead to a more diverse community.
Finally, I would like to share that I am in my very nature a collaborative individual. I love listening to the ideas and insights of others. As a Board member, I believe I can effectively listen, collaborate, and solve for the challenges that we as a profession face.
Describe how you stay intellectually engaged and how you will apply your personal knowledge as an Elected Board Member.
The world around us continues to change at an unprecedented pace. Businesses have had to change rapidly in response to the current world pandemic. When we start to emerge from this, it is certain that things will not be the same. Leaders need to be willing to consider alternatives once before never thought possible. The SOA, and the board, will need insights into the environmental, societal, and macroeconomic shifts that result. This will be key to developing a strong strategic plan that continues to be relevant in the changing world.
One of my core beliefs is continued personal growth through education and information. In my professional career, I have often sought new roles that offered the opportunity to learn something new. I have been in my current role for less than six months. My best days are when I can work with a new leader and learn something new about the retirement business.
I feed my intellectual curiosity by listening to audiobooks on my commute in a broad range of subjects from leadership to astrophysics (for people in a hurry – great listen by Neil deGrasse Tyson). I am particularly fascinated by the field of behavioral economics and unconscious bias and their implications on decision making and building an inclusive environment. I am eager to learn from other board members and share my experience as we work together for the benefit of the SOA.
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 and financial discipline are critical to any organization and even more important to a non-profit organization. It is imperative that we, as board members, align our limited resources effectively and prudently to the SOA strategy. This requires applying financial discipline to each investment in key strategic initiatives. In my role on the Marketing and Distribution section, it was important to me that we delivered value to our membership. I worked in partnership with Competiscan to offer a new member benefit of quarterly competitive insights.
I have served as Treasurer for the MassMutual’s Women’s Leadership Resource Network, TedX Springfield, SOA’s Marketing and Distribution section and the Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center (SVTRC). The treasurer role overlooks all spending and has a responsibility to all stakeholders to ensure prudent use of the resources. In the three years I’ve been on the SVTRC board, I’ve worked with the leadership team to understand the current financial situation, develop their inaugural budget, and set a strategic plan to restore our financial footing. It’s not just about overseeing the funds being spent, but also about ensuring that the clients are paying fair and responsible fees, that the expenses are competitive and frugal, and that our donors’ dollars are used responsibly to ensure we can meet our mission.
This is equally important for the SOA board. Member dues need to be reasonable and be put to the best use to provide value. As a board member, I would apply the same financial discipline and accountability as I have in my previous treasurer roles.