Volunteers' Corner

By Marcia Gallos, FCIA

A new monthly feature in the (e)Bulletin, Volunteers’ Corner has been created to provide some information about volunteering in the CIA—past, present, and future.

Feature Profile: Allan Edwards

A 2011 recipient of the gold award for volunteer service in the CIA, Allan Edwards (pictured above) chose his time working specifically on Minimum Continuing Capital and Surplus Requirements as a highlight of his volunteering. He said it was an initiative that made a significant contribution to the life insurance industry: "It resulted in: a) building a positive relationship with the regulators of both the actuarial profession and the life insurance industry; and b) improved the risk management and financial strength of the industry. I feel good about the results."

Mr. Edwards has volunteered for a broad range of important roles throughout his career, including:
Like all volunteers, he was once a beginner. His advice? "You can always find an excuse not to. But do it now: go ahead, raise your hand, and volunteer. I built a lot of relationships with a number of people that I would not have known or met otherwise. Very rewarding and well worth the time it took."

He added: "Your help is needed at the CIA and you will grow as a professional as a result of your volunteer activities."

I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for your contributions, Al!

Current Vacancies

Committee on Volunteer Initiatives (CVI) (log in to Members Site first)
With the ongoing support of the CIA Head Office, the CVI works with the volunteer services department and the Member Services Council to promote and coordinate the CIA’s volunteer initiatives in accordance with the CIA Volunteer Policy. Goals include identifying, measuring, and fulfilling the CIA’s overall volunteer needs, ensuring matching of interests and balanced representation, and celebrating and rewarding volunteer service.

Current vacancies
The CVI is currently looking for two members to begin work immediately.

Although no specific industry experience is required, prospective members should be enthusiastic about the value proposition of volunteering in the CIA. Members should expect to be engaged in a monthly hour-long teleconference and should be willing to share ideas on promoting volunteering. Candidates interested in a leadership opportunity are strongly encouraged to volunteer for the CVI, as succession planning is currently underway – this committee represents an excellent opportunity to get involved and to influence change at any experience level.

New Members Committee (NMC) (log in to Members Site first)
The NMC’s mandate is to promote education, networking, and volunteering opportunities specifically targeted to new Fellows and Associates. This committee will be responsible for ongoing measurement and monitoring of the value of Associate status in the Institute.

Current vacancies
The NMC is currently looking for three members to begin work immediately.

Although no specific industry experience is required, prospective members should be enthusiastic about the value proposition of the new ACIA designation and should expect to be engaged in a monthly hour-long teleconference. Current vacancies are designated for 2 ACIAs and 1 FCIA (membership year of 2010 or later).

For information on these or any other council/committee/task force, please contact Carmelina Santamaria or the council/committee/task force chair.

Tips and Tricks: Know Your Voice!

The majority of committee work is done over the phone. We try to reach consensus and express our ideas with only our voice. E-mails help, but sometimes do us a disservice.

A pleasing telephone personality is not always natural, but with attention and effort anyone (even the most technical and introverted of us) can develop a professional phone voice.

Here are some basic tips to help improve your business telephone voice. With practice, your voice can be an asset to you at all times and under all circumstances:
  1. Sit up straight: good posture helps you breathe and deliver a clear, projected voice. Find yourself slouching? Your voice (and attitude) may come across as lazy or disinterested.
  2. Speak up, but don’t yell: talk directly into the transmitter. If using a hands-free device, make sure it is positioned so that your caller can hear you. Use a normal tone of voice, neither too loud nor too soft.
  3. Speak clearly and distinctly: give every word and every syllable its proper form and value. Remember that a person cannot read lips over the telephone.
  4. Sell it: concentrate on vitality, enthusiasm, and alertness. Variation in tone helps bring out the meaning of sentences and adds color to what is said.
  5. Mirror, mirror on the wall: position a mirror nearby. Although at face value this seems somewhat ridiculous, when you look at your own reflection, you just may feel like smiling and may be less likely to frown, both of which transfer to your voice and are interpreted by the other callers as happy or annoyed.
Most of all: practice patience—with yourself and others. We are all in this national organization together, sparing our free time to advance the needs of our profession. With many cultural, generational, and industry differences celebrated among us, it can make for tricky conversations and awkward silences. Help steer conversations if it is a strength, but don’t dominate. Be sure to allow others to practice this skill.

Getting Started: All You Have to Do is Say Yes!
  1. Go to the CIA website. Log in to the Members Site. On the left-hand-side navigation panel, click on My Profile > My Volunteer Profile > Update Volunteer Profile. Once you’ve completed the Update Volunteer Profile form to indicate your skills, experience, and general interests, go to the Modify My Committee and Task Force Interests form to indicate specific volunteer committees that you are interested in joining.
  2. Press your case. If you have a strong interest in a specific committee, contact the CIA or committee chair. They will be happy to provide you with more information or to invite you to a meeting. You can also gain a feel for what each committee does by visiting the Volunteer Booth at many CIA meetings, including next month’s Annual Meeting in Montréal.
  3. Make it a priority. Understand the time commitment required for the volunteer position and set aside time in your schedule. Communicate any concerns to the committee chair and allow them to help you in assessing whether the opportunity is right for you.
  4. Get your employer on board. In many cases, volunteering can actually bring value to your employer. Many committees might overlap with your work or provide you with valuable training and experience. In many cases, you may be able to designate work time towards volunteering.
  5. Stay tuned. Keep reading the Volunteers’ Corner articles in the (e)Bulletin.
  6. Check out the resources for volunteers in the new Volunteer Centre on the CIA website.
Marcia Gallos, FCIA, is Chair of the New Members Committee, former chair of the Committee on Volunteer Initiatives, and a member of the Member Services Council.