Mary, who operates out of the firm’s Los Angeles offices, is in some ways a study in contrasts: a natural when it comes to math and the sciences, she also inherited a love for the creative arts and painting from her grandmother. She remembers taking out graph paper to draw landscapes and her elementary art teacher telling her that this was art class, not math class. “For some reason, the two subjects are treated as mutually exclusive and I felt compelled to choose between the two,” she says.
It was not until she began working as an actuary that it all clicked. “I immediately recognized how much creativity was required in this field,” Mary says. “No two clients or policy periods are exactly the same. The past may not always be a perfect proxy for the future, and there’s no perfect model or method. Thinking through all of that and adjusting accordingly – that’s the fun part for me.”
Beyond helping achieve a good business result, she likes to think that she’s helping clients understand their claims experience. “There’s obviously a financial need for our analyses, but there’s more to just the number,” she says. “For worker’s compensation, specifically, it means a lot to me if I can help a company understand what is driving their claims, so that they can implement preventative measures and training to keep employees safer.”
For young people who are just starting out in consulting: Be patient with yourself and don't compare your exam progress to others. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Her advice to young people who want to become actuaries is to be patient and persistent. “The exam process can be long. Don’t let that defeat you,” says Mary. “A lower level exam was tough for me and I considered giving up the actuarial pursuit. But I found greater success with the subsequent exams and couldn’t be happier that I stuck with it.”
Besides her work with clients, a great source of creative energy and pleasure is family. “Outside of work, I spend my time with my husband, Nick, and my two daughters, Audrey and Eva,” she says, adding: “I could write a novel on my daughters alone.”