New Leadership Role for Long-Standing Volunteer

Rob Stapleford has volunteered for the CIA many times and was recognized with a Gold Award in 2005. Now he is about to take up a new position: President-elect.

Mr. Stapleford, who retired last year as a partner at Mercer, said he was ready to embrace the opportunities and challenges the role would bring: "I am looking forward to working with actuaries across Canada and internationally to help the CIA continue to be a leading actuarial organization. That is one of the major appeals of volunteering.

"The education area has a lot of interesting developments in terms of ‘Canadianizing’ our education system and promoting the value of the FCIA brand. I am also interested in our strategic objective of influencing public policy. The more the profession can contribute to matters of actuarial interest to the public, the more we can grow pride in our profession in Canada. Increasing the pride in the CIA may help grow the volunteer base."

Mr. Stapleford, who has served on over 25 CIA councils, committees, task forces, and working groups—plus the Board for two terms—and was elected as President-elect by acclamation, said there are still new goals to be achieved.

"The CIA’s strategic plan identifies influencing public policy as a key objective. There is lots of scope for influencing public policy, and if we can move that needle forward that would be a significant contribution for the CIA.

"Actuaries are analytical people, and it can be challenging to come up with a ‘CIA’ position that reflects everybody’s position. As a result, you could say, ‘Let’s stay out of the public policy arena’, but that is not good enough. The CIA can and should contribute to the important policy issues of the day that have actuarial considerations, and most issues have some actuarial considerations. The traditional view of the introverted actuary is part of an older generation; communication and business skills have been part of our profession for some time. We should use our analytical skills in combination with an effective communications program to contribute to various policy debates. To move the profession forward we need to be thoughtfully engaged in issues of the day, which we can achieve by marrying our different skill sets."

Guiding the CIA’s future direction will not be without its challenges, Mr. Stapleford said. "Canadianizing the education syllabus will create a new working relationship with the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society. The CIA must continue to be active on international actuarial issues. I believe we can manage these challenges so there is nothing out there that is a cause for concern.

"We do have to look at volunteer management, from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. Are we doing enough on succession planning, for instance? The CIA must make effective use of its volunteers. Employers are becoming more demanding, so it can be hard for actuaries to find the time to volunteer for professional activities. We have to ensure that the volunteer experience is positive and that actuaries see volunteering as a way of developing skills and networking with other actuarial leaders."

Working on so many volunteer groups had already brought him many benefits, he added. "Groups are put together and you do not know everybody else, so you work with new people and hear different perspectives. It also develops your leadership skills if you become a chair or vice-chair. You learn to improve your time management skills as work and other demands on your time are still there. Volunteering offers many benefits and opportunities. The CIA needs to work with volunteers and their employers to ensure the benefits of volunteer work are recognized.

"Being acclaimed makes the title of President-elect feel strange as there was no election. I am committed to working with and listening to the Board and the many CIA committees, task forces, and volunteers to make the CIA a premier actuarial organization of which we can all be proud."


Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires