Introduce Yourself - Mark Lombardo

1. Why did you become an actuarial professional?

In high school I was good at math and a friend suggested it as a possible career as I was applying to universities. I’m glad he did as it’s been a great career so far; I’ve worked with amazing people over the years, had chances to travel to faraway countries for work, and have enjoyed a career that has been challenging and progressed regularly.

2. When you tell people you’re in the profession, what do they think you do?

They think I’m the reason their home/auto insurance premiums have increased. I then try to explain how insurance works, how I work in life and have no impact on their auto insurance premiums, and how if they own stocks or mutual funds they likely have a vested interest in a profitable insurance industry . . . They eventually get bored and walk away.

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

I would have to include Sharad Mehra, vice-president of individual reinsurance operations and Bernard Naumann, senior vice-president of individual reinsurance at Munich Re. Bernard gave me my first actuarial opportunity when I was a co-op student at Waterloo back in 1998 based on only my high school marks and experience—that role led to great actuarial co-op positions and eventually a full-time offer with Munich Re. Sharad had been my direct manager until the end of 2013, being a real force behind my personal development as an actuarial professional and eventually a people manager. Both have provided great examples of what it means to work hard and what it takes to be successful in the competitive Canadian reinsurance market. The best lesson they’ve given me, though, is how important it is to work with highly motivated people who can also make you laugh everyday; you see your work colleagues more than your family so it’s best that you enjoy that time.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Client interactions (especially with other actuarial professionals). I’ve found most don’t fit the stereotype. Working together to solve industry problems has always been fun and challenging.

5. What career would you follow if you weren’t a CIA member?

If I still have my mortgage, I would get into the asset side of the finance industry. If money wasn’t an issue I would want to write travel books, teach math at the high-school level, be a volleyball coach or a stay-at-home dad.

6. What are your hobbies?

Dog training (herding in particular), music (including playing the guitar, electric bass, and drums), travelling the world, and beach volleyball.

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

Music: classic rock, soul, and funk.
Book: The Lord of The Rings.
Film: anything with superheroes.

8. Where is your dream vacation destination?

Any place you find historic ruins—I love to walk around ancient cities.

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

Knowing a little bit about everything (the emphasis should be on the word "little"; in fact, I’m regularly made fun of for being an "inch deep and a mile wide" when it comes to my command of topics). Also the ability to relate to most anyone young or old.

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

I’m happy with being myself, but I would love to see what the future holds—so, Dracula? He’s both alive and dead, sports a wicked cape (depending on the incarnation), and can fly (who wouldn’t want to do that?).

Mark Lombardo is assistant vice-president, inforce management, North America (life), at Munich Re.

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Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires