Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What to Do After the Degree

Often the questions that I get from current and prospective students areabout jobs after school and relating these to the ActSci Degree.  Ratherthan have me try and tell them, it struck me that it would be useful to haveformer students talk about what their experience.

So I'm contacting a few alumni and asked them a few questions as follows:

  • When did you graduate?
  • What do you do now (job title, area of work, who you work with etc)?
  • Actuarial designations achieved (if any)?
  • How did your degree help you?
  • What else did you need to learn along the way?
  • What do you do outside of work?  
  • How do you balance work, play and study?

First to the wire was Will Du, who works with Sun Life in Toronto.  Will graduated at the top of a very strong class and continued his successes in business.  I'll post responses from more students over the next month or so.

When did you graduate?
June 2009

What do you do now?  
I am currently Associate Director, Individual Health Pricing, Sun Life

As you can tell from my title, I am responsible for pricing individual
health products (also known as living benefit products), e.g. Critical
Illness Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance, etc... I find health pricing
is very interesting, because of the health product market is so young and
so dynamic, unlike some other matured insurance market, health product
still has a very fast rate of innovation on product design front. And the
same time, with the high level of innovation on product design, a high
creative pricing is required.

In addition to that, Pricing in general is a very exciting function of
actuaries.  Pricing actuaries together with product managers hold the
responsibility of managing the life cycle of a particular insurance
product, e.g. assess its profitability, competitiveness, sales volume,
distribution channels, and impact from new regulations, etc... So pricing
and product function acts like a manufacturing department of an auto
company, they design it, put it into production, monitor sales, gather
feedback, and re-design it, and goes on and on... At meanwhile, pricing
actuaries need to get involved in discussions of investment strategy since
it is liability driven, capital and risk management, so it has a pretty big
exposure internally. Externally, pricing actuaries will be responsibility
for negotiating reinsurance deals with external reinsurers and working with
reinsurers to develop new products.

Sun Life is one of the big three in Canadian insurance market. In many
industrial measures, Sun Life is the number ONE and it is acting as a
leader in the market. With such a large employer, I benefit from it in many
areas. One of the areas is its active actuarial rotation program. With a
bit over 3 years at Sun Life, I have rotated from Individual Valuation role
to Individual UL Pricing role, and now I am Individual Health Pricing. Some
of my co-workers even have the opportunity to rotate to Sun Life's foreign
offices, e.g. Hong Kong, Boston, Bermuda and many other joint ventures in
Asia. And a large company is more dynamic, which will give people more
growth opportunities.

Actuarial designations achieved?

FSA (Fellow of the Society of Actuaries)2010
CERA (Certified Enterprise Risk Analyst) 2011
Hint : Will needs to get his FCIA (Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries)

How did your degree help you?
I'm always very grateful to UofR for providing me the opportunity to get
into the actuarial field. Specifically it prepares me for the SOA exams and
equips me with the working experience through its excellent internship
program. I think it is these two items got me an full time offer after
graduation. Thinking back, I feel I was very lucky too. The Economy was not
great during 2008-2009, plus I was was international student, which means I
needed to apply for a work visa in order to work. UofR definitely made me an
employable actuary.

What else did you need to learn along the way?Lots, but in the first year or so, I was focusing on finishing up my exams
(therefore I could get my "exciting life" back from the SOA). After getting my FSA the
learning continues, not only the technical knowledge, but the
communication, interpersonal and leadership skills as well.  It is a profession with a life
time of learning.

What do you do outside of work?I play basketball, ping pong, Starcraft II.  I enjoy looking at various
cars - the newest addition to Subaru family, BRZ, it's a pretty awesome
car! (not sure if it has been arrived at SK, but people can test drive it
from Toronto dealership) BRZ is a joint venture between Toyota and Subaru,
it has a twin brother called Scion FRS or Toyota 86 in Japan... (I can go
on and on on this topic...)

How do you balance work, play and study?
First of all, I was not even trying to be balanced during my exam taking
period, i.e. it was pretty much work and library. In 2010, I got my FSA,
then everything automatically balanced. It comes naturally because I do
not need to go to library any more.  After that, it depends on how fast you
want to advance on your career path.

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