Growing Your Network (and Your Knowledge Base)

Jeremy J. Brown

Photograph: Hyon Smith

With the start of the year, we all have an opportunity to build upon our skills and grow our professional connections. Be a lifelong learner. Keep a look out for new ideas and approaches. There is a lot to gain, and there are many ways to achieve it.

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) continues to identify and develop different ways to support us, its membership. In fact, the SOA’s 2017–2021 strategic plan focuses on knowledge and expertise as well as insight and influence. It is ingrained into our organization.

Here are some ways to build upon your knowledge base and expand your network. Join a professional interest section. Become an SOA volunteer. Participate in professional development to tap into education and networking. Connect with our membership around the world. All of these also are a conduit to share your thoughts and expertise with others.

Sections

The SOA has 20 professional interest sections that cover a lot of practice areas, including pensions, health, reinsurance and much more. There also are sections focusing on international, the future of the profession, technology and predictive analytics. Take a look at what they have to offer, as there are plenty of opportunities for networking, education and research. For the full list, visit the sections’ webpages.

Volunteering

Becoming a volunteer is another way to grow your network and knowledge base. As a longtime SOA volunteer, I’ve gained a lot from my involvement with education, exams and several other groups. Even through my retirement, I have kept my connection with the profession, and especially this organization.

Consider gaining new experiences, ideas and connections, while at the same time helping to advance the actuarial profession. The SOA developed a new database of volunteer opportunities, so members can easily search and apply for volunteer positions. Search the database by expertise area and the level of time commitment. For example, it lists Canada-specific volunteer projects, section-specific volunteer needs, specific professional development events for moderators and project oversight group volunteers for supporting SOA research. There is a range of opportunities, from those lasting less than four hours to time commitments of more than 40 hours. I urge you to visit the volunteer opportunities database and begin applying for one or more opportunities.

Professional Development

The SOA has many different live events (conferences, symposia, seminars) and regularly hosts webinars. I also would like to mention the growing volume of podcasts and e-Learning, all accessible from the SOA website. There is a new and timely item to call out: the free educational lessons on principle-based reserves (PBR). The SOA developed this on-demand material, with input from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), to provide education on PBR and VM-20 requirements.

Global Connection

In addition to the SOA’s regular communications, there are also several social media channels (SOA LinkedIn company page, SOA Facebook account, plus @SOActuaries on Twitter and Instagram). However, that is only a portion of the connections available. Use SOA Explorer to search for jobs, connect with other local actuaries and find actuarial clubs. SOA Engage is the online community where members can discuss myriad topics, as well as provide advice and insights to actuarial candidates. I also have a showcase page on LinkedIn where I post and comment on the latest developments involving the industry, so feel free to reach out to me there, too.

To me, it all comes down to the following advice: participate, participate, participate. Help others, and in turn it will help you along your career.

Jeremy J. Brown, FSA, MAAA, is president of the Society of Actuaries. Follow him on LinkedIn: bit.ly/JJBrownSOA