CIA (e)Bulletin/(e)Bulletin de l'ICA
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December 2016

Reflections on 2016

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By Dave Dickson, FCIA
CIA President

I decided to run for President-elect in spring 2015. Unlike other years, there was an actual election for the position with two other candidates in the running. After the votes were cast, I waited anxiously for the results. One day I returned from a lunch with two friends, both CIA members, to a voice mail from the Chair of the Elections Committee, Jim Christie, congratulating me on my victory and wishing me the best.

My immediate reaction was "now what?" I knew I would have a busy three years that would change my life. I was already actively volunteering with the CIA but becoming President-elect and then President would add a lot of responsibility. So, putting on my actuary’s hat, I decided to gather information. I had already spent time talking to some of the CIA’s leadership so I had an idea of my new role(s). To gather more information, I talked to various people involved with the CIA, including past presidents, Board members, and others. I did get some conflicting views on the role(s), but developed a better picture.

So, what have I learned?

  • It’s challenging. The CIA has a lot going on. We have many dedicated volunteers who provide leadership in many of the CIA’s initiatives. It was important for me to decide which projects to get involved with and which ones to play a more passive role in. It’s important to realize that you can’t be involved with everything.
  • It’s engaging. Over the last year and a half, I met with many members, at seminars, actuarial club visits, phone calls, committee meetings, etc. This helped me to get a better view of the CIA and to focus on initiatives that I thought were important. As an example, in my travels I discovered that many of our members don’t feel engaged with the CIA and I felt that it was important to improve this. We started a project to measure member engagement and plan to gather more member feedback through a series of focus groups.
  • It’s important to question things. I don’t try to disrupt everything, but like other organizations there is a tendency to continue doing things as they have always been done. I often ask why do we do things a certain way, can we change, do we need to do it at all? I feel that, as someone new to a role, this is important to do and I realize that change can be painful but important for any organization.
  • It’s a learning experience. I’ve learned much more about our different practice areas and topics such as climate change, genetics, and others. I’ve also learned to better appreciate how actuaries can make a difference and contribute to areas affecting the Canadian public. I’ve learned more about how the CIA works, my role in relation to the Board, the other two Presidents, the Secretary-Treasurer, our Executive Director, and the Head Office staff. I realized that the Board makes key decisions for the CIA, CIA leadership manages these decisions, and the Executive Director and his staff work with key volunteers to implement them. This model seems simple but took a while for me to understand; it works well. It is important that in my role I do not try to manage the work, but leave that to our Executive Director to do.
  • It’s personally and professionally enriching. I’ve really enjoyed attending numerous actuarial events, including representing the CIA at various international events. A couple of months ago we hosted the North American Actuarial Council meeting in Montréal and in November I attended the International Actuarial Association meeting in Cape Town.
  • It’s productive. As President, I chair the CIA Board meetings. These are always busy and there’s usually a problem keeping on time. But the meetings are very productive with lots of discussion and debate. We’ve also made the meetings more strategic, allowing more time for strategic discussion. Chairing the meeting is important, challenging, and rewarding. We do have a great Board and it makes the meetings very enjoyable.

In October, I attended the Society of Actuaries (SOA) annual meeting in Las Vegas. Craig Reynolds, the outgoing SOA President, gave a very inspirational farewell speech in which he thanked members who had voted for him and given him the opportunity to be SOA President. He said that it had been the most rewarding year of his professional career. In June 2017, I expect to say something similar during our Annual Meeting in Québec City.

I have really enjoyed my almost year and a half in these roles. It has allowed me to help make a difference to members and the profession, and most of all, it has been fun. It has changed my life in a very positive way and I look forward to the rest of my term.

Dave Dickson, FCIA, is President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.


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