Traditional Actuary Takes on Expanded Role in Data Analytics: David Sotelo, FSA, MAAA
The most satisfying career opportunities are often the ones where we can make a real difference in people’s lives. After a decade of traditional actuarial work in health care, David Sotelo found his opportunity to make a new impact. By joining Collective Health, a six-year-old start-up that simplifies the health care system maze for employers and their people, David fulfilled a growing desire to take his career beyond insurance.
“Collective Health intrigued me because this role was not in a typical actuarial department, but instead focused on analytics,” says David.
The Bay Area start-up offers an integrated system that hosts the key components of health benefits—medical, pharmaceutical, dental and vision plans, customer service and an analytics hub. Traditionally, a litany of third-party vendors handles each of these services individually. Since hosting these various components on one platform is like stitching together a patchwork quilt of data sets, Collective Health needed an actuarial manager to help fulfill their mission of making it easier for people to understand, navigate and pay for health care.
David co-manages an analytics team comprised of actuaries and data analysts. Together, they leverage claim and payment data to develop analyses and algorithms to help members seeking medical care or better health solutions and help employers take control of their health care spend. David says he and his fellow actuaries lead the strategic path.
“One difference between the actuaries and non-actuaries on my team is that actuaries are much more familiar with the uses of health care cost and utilization data,” David says. “Our formal education forces us to know these things like the back of our hand. As a result, we can offer unique solutions to our clients’ problems since we can approach them from different angles.”
David encourages fellow actuaries to expand their horizons, so their unique skillsets aren’t underutilized.
“Even at a start-up, I have one foot in the actuarial world and one foot in analytics,” David explains. “My credentials and training have proven their value in unanticipated ways, and I’ve helped our leaders work through questions they didn’t know to ask. That has given me greater visibility throughout my organization.”
As for those who feel they won’t get professional support if they move to a non-traditional field, David says there are ways to overcome that; he negotiated with his employer to cover the costs of his actuary exams, membership dues and conferences.
“Coming to an organization that didn’t have many actuaries on staff, it was good to know they were willing to accommodate my continual development,” David says. “This reflects the value actuaries bring to non-traditional sectors, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”