Job Title: Actuarial Consultant
Type of Company: My business is to devise, analyze and support processes that measure the financial value of a company and project and forecast the future impact of strategic and financial decisions being made today.
Education: BS, Math, Georgetown University MS, Business, New York University
Previous Experience: I worked for a life insurance company in the actuarial, finance and systems areas for 25 years.
Job Tasks: My job varies with my current assignment. A consultant works with more than one company to provide expertise to help those companies complete projects they don't have the in-house expertise to carry out on their own. As a consultant, I have to convince the hiring company that I have the experience and knowledge to not only do a particular project but the skill to work with the employees of the company in a way that will leave them with the ability to carry on after my contract is done.
An example of a project that I worked on was a 10 year forecast we drew up of a company's financial performance. This first required us to identify the input we would need and who in the organization could provide it. I worked with sales people to get their sales projections, financial people to forecast the cash flow from those putative sales and all departments in the organization to estimate the expenditures the company would have to make to support the levels of sales we were forecasting. Then my team put all that information through a process of calculations and came up with projected income and capital needs over the 10 year time frame.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is getting to be involved with many parts of a business. As a consultant, I'm exposed to decision makers and senior management. A consultant generally gets to be involved in more businesses than someone in one company. The result is that there are constant new challenges and learning opportunities as you see how different companies work.
The disadvantages are that there is less stability. A consultant also has less of a stake, or a sense of ownership, in the success of a company. Building lasting relationships is difficult. It is also difficult having to "sell" your abilities and skills.
1. Learn how to work with people and try to understand what's important to them from their point of view. It is much easier to help people solve their problems if you understand why they view them as problems.
2. As you go through school and your early career, try to gather as much knowledge and experience as you can. Don't focus too narrowly on one subject or area. Consultants need to be well-rounded, with an ability to speak well, handle their own finances, estimate costs and benefits, write persuasively and be technically skilled in their field.
3. Find something that you enjoy doing. If you do, you'll be more attentive to the details and completeness of your work. It is that attention to detail, along with your demeanor, which builds your reputation.
Additional Thoughts: I think the most important skills that are needed for my job are a. an ability to get along with all types of people and to learn from them and influence them. And b., an ability to identify and accept people who are better at some things than you are. By collaborating you can accomplish things that wouldn't be possible otherwise, sort of like a basketball team where everyone has his role: one shoots, another passes and another rebounds.
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