Entrepreneurial Actuaries

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I read an interesting blog post from Thought Leaders recently. This somewhat long passage from the post really captured my attention: “What do entrepreneurial actuaries do? They learn to be aware of those moments when an opportunity presents itself (the essence of entrepreneurship) and learn how to quickly sort out the risks and rewards of pursuing the opportunity (the function of an actuary). It’s not all about entrepreneurship—you can and should leverage these skills within an established organization. The problem is, we are not typically trained to do this. Our education system works best when students pay attention and avoid distractions. Focus on the work in front of you and accept the solution you’re offered. How many times were you encouraged to think of a problem in a different light or to develop your own solution in school? Probably not often.” The phrase, entrepreneurial actuary, in particular was both new and intriguing to me. In doing a search, I found that this actuarial activity is far from new, for most everyone but me that is.  ‘Quickly sorting out the risks and rewards’ makes all the sense in the world when an opportunity is identified. [Aside: It seems that the Society of Actuaries has recently recognized that intrapreneurial actuaries, working within organizations, are important contributors to success as well. As a result, the Entrepreneurial Actuary Section has been renamed the Innovation and Actuary Section. The inclusion of innovation to me perfectly captures the entrepreneurial / intrapreneurial activity.]

Here’s the part of this extended quote that I’ve been Considering extensively: The problem is, we are not typically trained to do this. Our education system works best when students pay attention and avoid distractions. Focus on the work in front of you and accept the solution you’re offered. First and foremost, I object to the use of ‘trained’ in it. Training anyone presumes that (1) you have the full understanding and skills to be able to transfer to others; and (2) that you can in fact transfer those skills and understanding to another one well enough for that person to be useful. I would submit that neither is true. The second sentence says ‘our education’ emphasizes paying attention, avoiding distractions, working on efforts presented, and accepting solutions given. Certainly, this will never lead graduates to value efforts entrepreneurial actuaries bring.

Note in the last part of the quote, consistent with the author’s description of education presently, it is suggested that today’s students are rarely ‘encouraged to think of a problem in a different light or to develop your own solution in school.’ For sure that’s a fairly safe assumption.

I have made clear in my writings and my conversations (for example, my recent blog post) that Effective Learning including developing the skills necessary to do the same must become the broadly used model in schools. That model involves the important creative problem solving. It must expand beyond the excellent but small pockets of useful / valuable education happening today. I would submit use of this model would include at least rudimentary entrepreneurial actuarial considerations. Most likely these students will begin their careers fully appreciative of such assistance.

In the the very near future, I will begin a series of blogs dealing with my beliefs regarding Effective Learning. Yes, that phrase is one others might not use regularly, certainly not capitalize. But the blogs will link to published relevant study outcomes, ones that I believe lend credibility to my notion of Effective Learning. I hope you’ll Consider them when available.

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