Photograph: Hyon Smith
What does it mean to be relevant? The word “relevant” is defined as “having significance on the matter at hand.” I often refer to it as not standing still. As business professionals, we need to keep up-to-date on current issues.
During the 2017 Society of Actuaries (SOA) Annual Meeting & Exhibit shortly after taking the office of SOA president, I addressed the membership on the importance of the profession staying relevant.
I keep these words in mind wherever I go and with everything I do as president. We carry our prestigious designations with us. Our actions and strategic advice speak volumes about the meaningful work we do. For our profession, relevance remains an overarching issue. We need to demonstrate our value to employers and clients, both now and in the future.
To help our members achieve this objective, the SOA looks to its 2017–2021 Strategic Plan to guide the decision-making process. We look at the world around us, and we consider how our members and our organization can make a difference to the public and to employers.
For example, globalization trends are a fact of life, both in business and in the profession. The SOA’s International Committee is responding to this challenge by working with our local committees in China, Asia and Latin America to enhance the reputation of the profession and by providing support to members. At the same time, we continue to serve the profession in North America through quality education, research, meetings and collaboration with key stakeholders. Yes, we are a global organization, but we also act locally.
As part of the Strategic Plan, we also look to members to help identify new challenges and trends. The SOA recently created a form for you (and other stakeholders) to help us identify emerging issues. This Environmental Observation form allows you to highlight important trends (whether risks or opportunities) that may impact actuaries and the profession. We need your eyes and ears to help us identify what’s on the horizon and to respond accordingly. Fill out this form whenever you see a trending topic, and—by the way—you can even earn volunteer recognition through your participation!
Today we are faced with new challenges—from emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and automation, to predictive analytics. We strengthen our relevance by learning and applying new approaches. The SOA is committed to working with its members to determine how best to sharpen skills in these new areas and to harness new actuarial methods and tools.
In many of our major meetings, online resources and research projects, the SOA offers content on predictive modeling and analytics. It is up to you to take advantage of these new techniques. Sign up for professional development. Download the latest papers. Engage in a conversation in-person or online with peers on these topics. Most important, learn!
In terms of volunteering, you can help make a difference by participating in research, education, webcasts, meetings and professional interest sections. Consider signing up for volunteer opportunities—by giving back to the profession, you can improve your own skills and also help us move forward.
In conclusion, I encourage you to rise to the challenges ahead. We need to work together to embrace the changing world, with its many risks and opportunities, and let’s help evolve new technologies and ideas. Let’s remain open to new ideas. You strengthen our profession by maintaining your skills and learning. We learn and grow in our knowledge together. Let’s give others reasons to continue seeing us as business leaders, valued problem-solvers and talented communicators of complex ideas.