CIA (e)Bulletin/(e)Bulletin de l'ICA
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February 2017

Board Elections, Strategic Plan, Focus Groups Update, and Special Event

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By Dave Dickson, FCIA
CIA President

Every former CIA president I have talked to has said that they loved being President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. The position is fun, challenging, rewarding, and lets you help shape the future of the CIA and our profession. It is one of the most professionally fulfilling positions a member can ever fill. You get to represent the CIA with members and with other organizations, make important decisions, work with others to move the CIA and the actuarial profession forward, and learn a lot more about our profession. Most of us work in one area of practice. As President you represent all the members and in doing so will learn about most of our practice areas.

Time Commitment

Members are often reluctant to run for President for a number of reasons. One is the time commitment, which is significant. Talking with other presidents, we feel it is 1.5 to two days a week, including travel, but it does vary a lot throughout the term. Many of our past presidents continued working while in the role. Over the last year or so we have been working to reduce the workload of the president. As an example, we have shifted more of the work to the immediate past president. Another reason members are reluctant to run is the actual election process and the prospect of losing. I found the election process fun. I reached out to many people and was surprised by how much support and encouragement I received.

Thoughts from Past Presidents

Immediate Past President Rob Stapleford became CIA President for many of the reasons I did: to give back to the profession, to work with national and international actuarial professionals, and from admiration for the CIA presidents who had served before. He shared some of the ways he benefitted:

  • Developing personal skills including leadership, time management, communication, vision, and the ability to deal effectively with a wide range of people with different skills, backgrounds, and personalities;
  • Learning new perspectives on approaches to common problems;
  • Interesting travel opportunities; and
  • A real enjoyment of the work and the ability to make a positive contribution.

Rob acknowledges that the time commitment varies substantially by week and month, with some weeks being in the 20–30 percent range, while others being as much as 80 percent or as little as 5 percent. The team approach helps. "Sharing duties among the three presidents, the Executive Director, Head Office staff, and council chairs can spread workload and address situations where it is impossible for the President to attend," he says.

Jacques Tremblay served as President from 2014–2015, covering the first half of our 50th anniversary year. Jacques had found that volunteering on multiple CIA committees and councils had been very helpful to his career and wanted to give back to the organization that had been so good to him. He found serving as President helped him grow as a professional, as he prepared for Board meetings, helped set the strategy for the CIA, chaired multiple meetings within the CIA and with other international organizations, and made multiple new actuarial contacts across North America and the world.

Jacques continued to work full-time while serving as CIA President. "You know the expression, if you want something done, give it to someone who is busy!" he said. "The reality is that you can manage this commitment. I received great support from Michel Simard, our Executive Director, and the entire CIA staff. I also received great support from my colleagues at work." Jacques managed his job and his role as President by working one day on the weekend to catch up on CIA matters. "Theresa (my spouse) was very understanding," he added, "and I received a lot of support from my colleagues and the CIA staff."

He says he enjoyed all aspects of serving as President, "but mostly the support and collaboration I received from the Head Office staff, Michel Simard, as well as Jacques Lafrance and Rob Stapleford. The teamwork—everyone working for our members and having a meeting of the minds on key strategic items—was quite an experience." He encourages people to run: "Like the Nike commercial, ‘Just do it’. The experience is fantastic. You will grow so much as a professional."

Serving on the Board of Directors

CIA members can also run to serve on the CIA’s Board of Directors. Serving on the Board is much less of a time commitment than President but it remains a challenging and fulfilling role. The CIA always has a lot going on and the Board sets and monitors our strategic direction. The Board meets four times a year and usually Board members also serve on a committee and sometimes get involved with initiatives. As a Board member you will learn a lot about the CIA and our areas of practice. Being on any Board is good experience, particularly if you are considering an executive role such as President in the future.

Strategic Plan

For the past 18 months, starting under the leadership of Rob Stapleford and the previous Board, the CIA has been developing its new strategic plan. Released on February 1, the new strategic plan, targets four focus areas:

  • Education—Enhancing the CIA education and qualification system;
  • Emerging Practices—Increasing the number of actuaries in non-traditional roles;
  • Public Policy—Influencing public policy; and
  • Governance and process optimization–Improving the CIA’s governance model and enhancing volunteer engagement.

I invite you to visit the CIA website to see the strategic plan in more detail.

Focus Group Updates

In our January (e)Bulletin, I wrote about the focus groups the CIA is holding as part of our project to improve member engagement and communications. The report from the initial focus groups held in Toronto on December 7, 2016 provides excellent information on how members perceive the CIA, and its strengths and weaknesses. The next round of focus groups take place in Montréal on February 8. We anticipate the final report will provide us with the kind of information we need to help us improve the CIA and make it the kind of organization our members want and need.

CIA Special Event

Are you concerned about the future of the actuarial profession? Do you have questions about the CIA? Want to share your ideas about emerging practices and the new and exciting opportunities for actuaries? We are organizing a special event in Toronto to provide a casual atmosphere for actuaries of all ages and from different practice areas to network, learn, and share ideas. After a brief talk, CIA President-elect Sharon Giffen and myself will open the floor to attendees to participate.

Watch for more information on this special event in the CIA announcements and the March (e)Bulletin.

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


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