Introduce Yourself - Daniel Pellerin


Daniel Pellerin

1. Why did you become an actuary?

While reading the directory of occupations, I noticed "actuary" right on the first page, and it seemed to cover some really interesting fields (math, economics, management, communications, etc.). The directory also indicated that it was a high-paying profession—neglecting to mention, however, the multitude of exams you had to pass to get into the field. When I discussed the possibility with a friend, he made fun of me ("My brother failed the first exam and he’s way smarter than you!"). That was all the convincing I needed to go for it!

2. When you tell people you’re an actuary, what do they think you do?

A lot of people have no idea, but they do know that I studied a long time. Some people just have this empty, inquisitive look ("huh?").

3. Who has inspired you the most during your career? Did you have a mentor in your early career?

Alphonse Lepage was a big inspiration, even though I met him only once, when I was 16. I told myself then and there that I wanted to be like him. Not only for his technical skills but because of his kindness toward his colleagues and staff. Later I learned that the Canadian Reassurance Company was a wonderful outfit with a fine sense of teamwork, and they admired M. Lepage.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Communicating the results of our work to various audiences, but doing it in a way that they understand! Working collaboratively to resolve complex problems (but not overly so).

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

I was kind of heading toward communications or television arts, because I had more of a talent for creative arts and writing than math. I would have loved to make films.

6. What are your hobbies?

My favourite pastime is to play the drums. Sadly, work leaves me no time to be part of a band, but you never know . . . I also like Formula 1 races, cycling, and spending time with my family.

7. What is your favourite music, book, and film?

I love films based on an original idea or that throw you a curve at the end, like Monsters Inc. and The Sixth Sense, for example. Needless to say, I also love any music with a complex beat (I like the challenge of reproducing it on my drum kit).

8. Where is your dream vacation destination?

Funny you should ask, because I’m starting to plan a dream trip for my retirement (which won’t be for a few years, just so you know). An Asian cruise seems to be my flavour of the month right now . . . until my wife nixes the idea, of course . . .

9. What do you do better than anyone you know?

I deeply respect my actuarial colleagues and feel that each is likely better than me in one field or another. But having said that, I seem to have a certain ease understanding business imperatives and relating them to actuarial work. As you get older, you also develop a sixth sense for expected results . . .

10. If you could be anybody else, alive or dead, who would it be, and why?

I’m quite happy in my own skin, thank you very much. But just for one day, I’d love to trade places with Fernando Alonso (Formula 1 driver for Ferrari) so I could drive a high-performance race car.

Daniel Pellerin is senior vice-president and chief actuary at Transmerica Life Canada.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires