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February 2017
 
 

New Fellow Questions – Hugo Boutin-Ouellet

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Hugo Boutin-Ouellet, FCIA

1. When and why did you become an actuary?

Up until college, I had never heard of actuarial science. Personal interest in mathematics and chemistry was leading me straight to a pharmacy program. However, a visit to Université Laval’s actuarial sciences open house day ended up being a game changer to my career plans. Presenters did an outstanding job at introducing the profession, discussing impacts we could have on societies, international perspectives related to the profession, and the diversity of possible career paths.

2. Who inspired you to pursue an actuarial career?

I’ll thank my dad for that. He is the one who told me to show up to that open house day, after telling me a story about one of his good old friends, a Fellow of the CIA who had a successful career with plenty of traveling opportunities related to work.

3. What was your experience of the actuarial exams? Did you experience any particular challenges?

I actually failed my very first professional exam. I was overconfident and didn’t end up preparing myself seriously for the exam. Failure made me realize that becoming a Fellow would not be a walk in the park. I changed my approach, dedicating sufficient time to exam preparation, and went through the rest of the program successfully.

4. How did you find the transition from being a student to becoming a young professional?

My transition went well, but may appear atypical for most actuaries. After completing the university program, I took a two-year break to travel the world, working here and there in non-actuarial roles to fund my trip. Finding an actuarial job once back in Canada did not end up being as challenging as I thought it would be and I was fortunate enough to land in a good company offering plenty of learning opportunities for actuarial students.

5. What is your current professional role? Can you describe the type of work you’re doing?

I recently took on a new challenge at Manulife/John Hancock to provide pricing and reinsurance support to its U.S. division. My team focuses on the development of new and innovative retail life insurance products to be distributed in the U.S. market and internationally. My key responsibilities are diverse, ranging from pure pricing duties to external client relationship management. I focus mostly on new business but do get involved in inforce initiatives from time to time. Every day comes with new challenges and problems to solve, making this role very exciting.

6. What do you enjoy most about your job?

The wide range of projects I get involved in, access to key individuals across a number of companies, and the opportunity to learn something new every day are real motivators to me. Also, being able to operate at multiple levels, from pure technical work up to strategy setting and decision-making is quite stimulating. Finally, switching from a role to a professional perspective, I really like the international profile of the actuarial field. Referring to my own experience, I have been privileged to work for and learn from Canadian, American, and Australian businesses to date.

7. What are your short-term career ambitions?

Establishing myself as a key resource to our U.S. division and our external partners.

8. Where do you see yourself professionally in 15 years?

It is hard to say, as a number of things could change by then, such as market conditions, company needs, and personal interests. My plan is to keep developing myself and be ready for any challenges down the road.

9. What career would you follow if you weren’t an actuary?

I would probably be a pharmacist; it sounds like a good profession to develop and own your business while having a positive impact on your community.

10. What are your hobbies?

I really enjoy travelling. I have visited over 20 countries to date and it feels like there is so much more to discover. I also have a passion for martial arts, learning new languages, and social activities.

11. Where is your dream vacation destination?

I would really like to travel around South America and do things like visiting Machu Picchu, trekking to Iguazu Falls, or wandering around Rio’s streets during the carnival.

12. What is your motto?

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. – Mahatma Gandhi

Hugo Boutin-Ouellet is actuarial director, U.S. insurance at Manulife.


If you would like to be featured in Spotlight on New Fellows, please contact CIA English editor Bonnie Robinson at bonnie.robinson@cia-ica.ca.

 

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