Amanda Hug, FSA 2013, MAAA
Chief of Staff to the Chief Financial Officer
Brief Description of the type of work you currently do:
I work at MassMutual as Chief of Staff to the Chief Financial Officer, where I am accountable for overseeing the strategic planning and execution for the 350-person Finance division. I am Vice Chair of the SOA Leadership & Development section, President of the Actuaries’ Club of Boston, and past President of the Actuaries’ Club of Hartford & Springfield (400+ members).
Primary Area of Practice:
Why do you want to be on the Board?
I am excited by the prospect of making a difference for current and future generations by overseeing the strategic plan and identifying future strategic priorities for the Society. If elected, I’ll champion growth on three critical fronts.
- Evolve the Profession: Drive decisions to keep actuaries relevant and highly sought-after in an increasingly competitive environment.
- Engage Young Professionals: Ensure that millennials, my peers and the profession’s future leaders, are engaged and considered in SOA decisions, in turn diversifying and enriching the profession as a whole.
- Strengthen the Actuary as a Business Leader: Lean into the SOA mission to develop impactful leaders.
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.
This year marks for me a decade in the financial services industry at MassMutual. Three distinct experiences position me to support the SOA’s strategic direction.
- Traditional Actuarial Roles – For the first eight years of my career, I prioritized building actuarial and product expertise through valuation and product development actuarial roles spanning life, annuity, retirement, supplemental health, and worksite. For example, I led cross-functional teams to innovate and price two brand new worksite products, Critical Illness and Universal Life. In the retirement space, I analyzed and approved pricing for stable value deals up to $500m and led a revenue enhancement project that increased annual earnings by $750k. My actuarial experiences ensure that I have the functional knowledge to support the SOA mission, for which education and knowledge are a focal point.
- Chief of Staff to the CFO – I pursued my FSA as a great foundation for a career in broader business leadership, and I’m seeing that come to fruition. In my current Chief of Staff role, one of my primary responsibilities is overseeing the strategic planning and execution for the 350-person Finance division. I lead strategic planning sessions and advise the senior leadership team on the buildout of roadmaps to achieve goals, overseeing the metrics to ensure successful delivery. This experience prepared me to help the SOA establish clearly defined goals, aggressive but realistic roadmaps to get there and governance to ensure follow through.
- Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) – Finally, I recently attained my MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where I graduated first in my class of over 200 students. My cohort was truly international and represented a myriad of industries, teaching me to think critically about the evolving external environment. This equipped me to lead on the board amidst the changing global economy.
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.
One of my key volunteer experiences is serving as Chair of the SOA Community Engagement Strategy Working Group. I was asked to lead this group to develop a strategic plan to deliver a stronger community experience for members. Our charter calls for a strategy that resonates with all generations, but in particular the 46% of membership who are young professionals, in support of the Young Professional Engagement initiative. We aim to facilitate a stronger sense of belonging and community among the 30,000+ Society members.
In addition, I was elected Vice-Chair of the SOA Leadership & Development Section due to my tangible contributions, such as increasing the diversity and quality of the 30+ speakers sourced annually for SOA meetings. The Society’s mission is to advance actuaries as leaders, yet we have more work to do on this front. I am eager to leverage the content and thought leadership from the Leadership & Development Section and bring it to SOA members more broadly, possibly as part of the Product Development Redesign board initiative.
These experiences working with SOA volunteers, staff and the board on efforts tied directly to our mission and strategic initiatives will strengthen my contributions in a board role.
Please list your relevant volunteer experience. Please include the name of the organization, your role, and approximate dates.
- Chair, SOA Community Engagement Strategy Working Group (2020 – Present)
- Vice Chair, SOA Leadership & Development Section (1,500+ members) (2019 – Present)
- President, Actuaries’ Club of Boston (150+ members) (2018 – Present)
- President, Actuaries’ Club of Hartford/Springfield (400+ members) (2016 – 2018)
- Board Member, University of Hartford Industry Advisory Board (2014 – 2016)
- SOA Presenter, Annual Meetings, Webcasts, Podcasts, Candidate Connect events (2014 – Present)
- SOA Author, The Actuary, The Stepping Stone, Innovators and Entrepreneurs, Actuary of the Future (2015 – Present)
- Board Member, Lakeside Christian Camp (2019 – 2020)
- Finance Committee, Valley Community Baptist Church (2,000+ members) (2014 – 2016)
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.
Acting with integrity is a personal value for me that stems from my Christian faith and manifests itself regularly in my life. One challenge I might expect to face as a SOA board member is providing transparency to members while maintaining confidentiality regarding board deliberations. Consistent with the SOA policy on board conduct, I believe transparency to members is essential to protecting the interests of all actuaries. Simultaneously, confidentiality of deliberations allows for frank discussion of differing viewpoints, benefiting members by leading to adequately pressure-tested decisions.
I recently experienced this tension firsthand when a non-profit for which I was serving on the board made the difficult decision to close due to financial challenges after 40 years in business. Following the board announcement to our customers, I directly received questions about the company financials, rationale for closing and my opinion on the decision. I shared considerations that influenced the decision while refraining from disclosing specific financial details or identifying the position of specific board members on the matter. If faced with a similar situation on the SOA board, I would act similarly, taking care to adhere to the SOA Policy on Responsibilities and Conduct of Members of the Board of Directors.
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.
The experience that best demonstrates my capacity to serve as a collaborative leader is my role as President of the Actuaries’ Club of Hartford & Springfield (ACHS), the largest actuarial club in the U.S. As the leader of a fully volunteer planning committee that spanned across companies and practice areas, I drove team collaboration amidst a variety of diverse viewpoints.
Under my leadership, in collaboration with fellow officers, we increased attendance by 15% and crossed the threshold of drawing over 400 attendees. We rebranded the club with a new logo and mobile-enabled website, populated with professional photos of our meetings. We raised our bar for recruiting high-quality speakers. The impact of these changes was a 35% increase in attendees rating our meeting as “Excellent.”
I played a team member role on the board of Lakeside Christian Camp, a non-profit with a $1m budget. I was the finance professional amidst experts from different industries. As we developed and managed a new strategic plan, I shared my expertise while deferring to others when appropriate. Despite being the youngest member on the board by nearly a decade, I earned the respect of the Chair and fellow board members on account of my energy, commitment and vision for our mission. I would take this same approach on the SOA board to contribute my expertise but also embrace the expertise and opinions of others as a team player.
I’m proud to have played a part in the legacy of ACHS and Lakeside, which have thrived on account of the many volunteers that came before me. Like these organizations, the SOA has a great legacy of volunteer leaders that led the SOA through the last 100+ years. I would be privileged to join that legacy and play a small part as a team member and leader.
Describe how you stay intellectually engaged and how you will apply your personal knowledge as an Elected Board Member.
I’ve always loved the academic experience, and this has grown as I’ve spent time in the industry and seen the power of translating new knowledge into action and business results. This intellectual curiosity propelled me to achieve my MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It also prompted me to step into my current role and be a significant contributor to SOA educational efforts.
- Leadership in a Finance Transformation – In my role as Chief of Staff to the CFO, I help to oversee a transformation of the Finance business. We are at the end of a three-year journey to modernize the 350-person organization and empower our employees to be trusted business partners who bring financially-based guidance to the enterprise. The SOA mission is also to improve financial outcomes, but for individuals, organizations and the public. My experience helping transform a business at a Fortune 100 company has prepared me to lead a transformation of the SOA amidst a competitive external landscape.
- Frequent Speaker and Author for SOA content – My intellectual curiosity extends to a desire to share my learnings with others through speaking and writing. I recently spoke at the 2019 SOA Annual Meeting in Toronto, where I addressed the future of work, the workforce, and the workplace as it relates to the actuarial profession. Also in 2019, I presented to 400 actuaries at the Actuaries’ Club of Hartford and Springfield on a similar topic: actuarial evolution and modernization. We are at a defining moment where the Society must carefully but quickly reexamine our value proposition to ensure that actuaries remain highly sought-after experts with prestigious and relevant credentials. My contributions to SOA learning content about the future of the profession demonstrate my ability to contribute to critical strategic initiatives such as the Long Term Growth Strategy.
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.
Resources are scarce, and demands on our time, money and people abound. Throughout my career I’ve had many opportunities to steward resources well.
- Team Management – I manage a team of six professionals that serve a support function role across a 350-person Finance division. Before I took on the team, demands were coming from all angles and both my team and our clients were frustrated by the lack of a clear service model. In partnership with the team, I established a defined support model and empowered the team to operate in this capacity, freeing them up to work on the highest value activities. At the SOA, staff and volunteer resources are crucial to the success of the mission. I am prepared to help create and manage clear priorities for these groups so that they are empowered to spend time on activities that matter most.
- Finance Committee – For two years I served on the Finance Committee in my 2,000-member church, where I helped oversee a $4m budget. The six-person committee stewarded our church revenue by reviewing and challenging proposed budgets and managing variances from plan. This experience paired with my role in the Finance division at a Fortune 100 company has prepared me to steward the SOA finances in a board capacity.
- Actuarial Hiring Manager – In addition to my day job, I served for two years as the Actuarial Leadership Development Program hiring manager for MassMutual, where I oversaw 50+ volunteers and hired 40+ elite candidates. I created a recruiting strategy to maximize volunteer time by attending university events with the highest return on our investment. I made all compensation decisions, balancing competitiveness of offers with candidate qualifications, market conditions and program budget. Stewarding volunteers and company dollars prepared me well to steward these same resources at the SOA.