With two special guests from the Society of Actuaries (SOA), the new episode of the Let’s Talk STEM with Dr. Calvin Mackie podcast highlights the important role that actuaries and mathematics play in American society and the dire need to increase the number of Blacks in a profession that is a mystery to many people.
Joe Wurzburger, SOA Managing Director in Strategy and Innovation, and Jamala Arland, a former Chair of the SOA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, explain how to become actuaries and their impact. Both are SOA Fellows, the highest designation earned through exams, training and other requirements. Arland acknowledges their diversity challenge: there are less than 250 Black actuaries around the world.
Arland discusses SOA’s efforts to help members and candidates feel fully included and have equitable opportunities. She also cites the rewarding experiences she enjoyed in the insurance industry. “I worked at insurance companies for the majority of my career,” she says. “I've done a lot of really cool things. I've done things related to developing cool new, innovative insurance products. I've done things related to analysis of stock market increases. I've done analysis related to the impact of pandemics even before we were in the middle of a global pandemic.”
Wurzburger adds: “There is no one size fits all actuary, right? There are so many different kinds. Actuaries are business professionals who make or influence decisions affected by risk. The cool thing within that is for people who want to use math as a foundation to make a social impact. Those decisions often safeguard things in society that people value most.”
The Let’s Talk STEM with Dr. Calvin Mackie podcast series features interviews with guests from all aspects of STEM – entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, students – who talk about the importance of STEM in their lives today.
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