Lifestyle Article - Lights, Camera, Actuary: Spotlight on Joe Monk

Zoe Bolton interviews Joe Monk, Chief Actuary, Pioneer Underwriters

 What is your current role, and how did you end up in it?
 Chief Actuary at Pioneer Underwriting. I was previously Global Chief Actuary at Alterra Capital prior to its sale to Markel so I was in the curious position of having about ten months to find another job during the transition. This gave me a fantastic opportunity to decide what it was I really wanted to do at that stage of my career. Pioneer was a start-up which fitted the bill perfectly.
 What is the defining moment of your career to date?
 I wouldn't say that I've had a single defining moment. For me it is the time I've spent with the people I have worked for that is more important. There are two in particular who have been inspirational mentors to me.
 In your opinion, what prepared you best to take on a Chief Actuary role?
 Having superb mentors (see previous answer) and working with non-actuaries.
 What is the biggest challenge you face as Chief Actuary within this market?
 The biggest challenge is keeping the role relevant for the business overall and not just a regulatory requirement. Actuaries can contribute enormously to a business and shouldn't need the 'Chief Actuary' certification to be at a senior level. The regulatory part of the Chief Actuary role has the potential to be a significant distraction.
 In 2016 what is your aim for defining the actuarial and analytics division within your firm?
 To place the power of the analytics into the underwriters hands. In the current market they have an incredibly tough job to do. Strong analytics and supporting the underwriters is the most important thing actuaries can do to help any business.
 When did you first join the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries, and what advice would you give to those students looking to emulate your career path?
 I first joined in 1995. The most important thing in the first ten years of your career is not passing exams, but learning on the job about the industry. I also can't over-emphasise the importance of learning from non-actuaries.
 If you had your time again, what would you do, career-wise?
 I would take more risks in my career. Having an actuarial qualification gives a level of security that the majority of actuaries don't take advantage of. American actuaries are far more inclined to go into non-actuarial areas than UK qualified actuaries.
 Please share your favourite piece of trivia with our readers!
 My current favourite piece of trivia is unfortunately a really geeky one. The first six derivatives of position with respect to time are : Velocity, Acceleration, Jerk, Snap, Crackle and Pop. It's amazing where 1930s advertisers get their inspiration from ...

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