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

Spotlight on New Fellows – Cristina Pop

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1. When and why did you become an actuary?

I found out about the actuarial field from my grandma’s doctor, which is a bit unusual. I was already towards the end of my third year of university, majoring in math without a clear path after graduation. At one of my grandma’s appointments he suggested I try actuarial science. I left with a confused look on my face—the same look I get from most people when I tell them what I do. After doing some research at home, it seemed like something I would enjoy. It was too late for me to switch programs, so I remained in my math program and decided to take the exams on the side.

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

I started taking exams late in university so I only graduated with one exam. My first sitting was a bit of a wake-­up call as I enrolled for the exam and only studied for two weeks, which I was quite proud of because it was way more than I spent on any regular exams at school. Needless to say, I realized quickly that these exams wouldn’t be a walk in the park.

I also found it a bit tough to write the majority of my exams while employed; I wished I had more exams completed while in school. Later, marriage and kids made passing my last two exams even more difficult due to competing demands on my time. 

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

It was challenging for me, both because I did not complete an actuarial program in university and since I started my exams so late. Most concepts were new to me, so my learning curve was a lot steeper compared to others that I’ve seen joining our company from an actuarial science program. They seemed to have a much better grasp on actuarial concepts and the insurance industry in general.

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

My current position is manager of reserving and reinsurance. My team performs quarterly reserve reviews in order to determine the corporate reserve requirements. Some  other  work  involves  data  analysis  for reinsurance  and  the financial  planning process. In addition, we are constantly trying to enhance the quality of our analysis by collaborating with other departments as well as identifying and implementing process improvements.

5. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working in a smaller company allows me to see all aspects of the business and interact with different areas. I enjoy seeing different perspectives, understanding how each different area functions, and how it impacts our company. I really feel that this gives me the opportunity to see the big picture and a better understanding of how my work fits in the puzzle.

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

Our profession is changing quite a bit with the rapid advancements in technology and the ways we use data, so that’s a really tough question. In 15 years, I might be using my actuarial skills in a different area or in a more non-­traditional actuarial role.

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

I like doing research and finding great deals, especially on travel. If I didn’t become an actuary I would have loved to be a travel agent, as I can spend an endless amount of time looking for deals on flights and vacations. I’m always the one that books our group trips both with my family and our friends.

8. What are your hobbies?

In my free time, I’m usually working out or doing yoga. I find that yoga is more challenging for me as it’s both a physical and mental exercise. It helps because it forces me to slow down—I always tend to be on the go!

I also enjoy outdoor activities such as biking and camping with my husband and our two boys.

9. Where is your dream vacation destination?

My dream is to go to the Maldives; it’s something I’ve thought about for a long time and I’m hoping it will happen sometime in the next five years.

10. What is your motto?

Lately, I’ve been trying to live in the present and appreciate the little things that make me happy, such as our Saturday morning family dance parties (especially when our four-year-old is the DJ). I try to be aware and appreciate those moments every day and that’s why when I read this quote recently, it really resonated with me. “People will wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, and all life for happiness.”

Cristina Pop, FCIA, is manager of reserving and reinsurance at Allstate Canada.

If you would like to be featured in Spotlight on New Fellows, please contact CIA English editor Bonnie Robinson at


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