Special Edition: Coach Kester’s Birthday

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Today I am celebrating half a century of life. What better way to celebrate than to write 50 reasons on why to become an actuary. Here are my best 50:

  1. Meet other actuaries who are fantastic to work with and get to know
  2. Solve critical life problems involving risk
  3. Some times the range of acceptable answers are + and –  $50 million (sure beats accountants who aren’t satisfied until it matches to the exact penny!)
  4. There are an unlimited number of life problems that we can solve
  5. Building actuarial models is fun and requires creativity and science
  6. Passing actuarial exams is a huge thrill!
  7. Join an elite group of professionals that are over achievers
  8. Once you pass all of the exams, there is not any goal that seems unreachable
  9. Earning instant respect from other professionals who understand the problems actuaries solve
  10. Great use of math skills
  11. Getting paid to study
  12. Working on long term projects that stretch my analytical and problem solving skills
  13. Many problems require outside the box solutions
  14. Being “comfortable” with the unknown
  15. Helping younger actuaries pass an exam or becoming an actuary is a thrill.
  16. Opportunities to travel to fun places
  17. Responsible for developing solid assumptions
  18. Trained for critical thinking
  19. See the “forest from the trees” when evaluating companies operations
  20. Tackle enterprise risk head on
  21. Seeing familiar faces at actuarial meetings regardless of where they meet.
  22. Being able to call technical support when experiencing hardware issues and getting top notch service!
  23. Excuse to own the latest and greatest technology!
  24. Trained to have a healthy skepticism of conclusions others have developed.
  25. We learn to understand concepts, not blindly memorize formulas.
  26. Our work focus on long term solutions in contrast to a society that focuses on the short term
  27. We don’t bury our mistakes like doctors
  28. Most people are clueless about what problems actuaries solve resulting in creative answers to the often asked question “what do you do”?
  29. Stretches my communication skills of explaining difficult concepts to actuaries and non actuaries.
  30. Opportunity to program, work with spreadsheets, databases, and cool technology
  31. Learn to develop effective controls that improve accuracy and help us sleep better at night.
  32. Great war stories of getting through the exams!
  33. I can work anywhere which means inside when the weather is bad, sit on my comfy chair, or go to a cool coffee shop.
  34. In general, actuaries are poor at networking – thus any networking I do puts me ahead of the crowd.
  35. “Giving back” is very rewarding by volunteering to help others
  36. Have I stated enough times how great it is to work with other actuaries?
  37. Standing in line at McDonald’s encourages analyzing how the Poisson distribution could reduce waiting time rather than being upset with the long lines.
  38. Satisfaction of understanding a concept today that seemed unclear and overwhelming yesterday.
  39. Focus is on the facts, not appearances
  40. Conditioned to always estimate what should be a reasonable result.
  41. The work day goes by extremely fast
  42. Most of my best solutions occur while I am running or in the shower
  43. Understanding and conquering risk is a lifelong journey
  44. Requires a nice blend of individual work and group collaboration
  45. Mentoring others and being mentored by other actuaries
  46. Having an opportunity to use my God given strengths to help others and solve real problems
  47. The opportunity to be the best in the world at something
  48. Rewarded for the ability to simplify and clarify
  49. Doing actuarial work does not seem like “work” but an extension of who I am (disclaimer: studying for the exams did seem like “work”!)
  50. Let me rephrase #1 for emphasis: working with actuaries is rubbing shoulders with the world’s best!

I’m thankful for a great 50 years. I’m also encouraged that actuarial tables have increased from 100 years to 120 years. In my optimistic perspective this indicates that I am not even half way through life yet! I hope this list encourages you to pursue the actuarial career with hope and optimism. Now, go and solve a real problem!