MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Each month, we will feature a member of the Academy and share a glimpse into their professional and personal lives.

JOHN PURPLE
Specialty: Life and Casualty

WHAT POSITION AT THE ACADEMY DO YOU CURRENTLY HOLD?
A member of the Committee on Professional Responsibility, the P/C Extreme Events and Property Lines Committee, and the ASOP No. 41 Task Force.

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME AN ACTUARY?

I first learned about the actuarial profession in the fall of my senior year in college. A fraternity brother who had graduated the prior year had come back for Homecoming and he told me about this great job he had as an actuarial student at The Hartford. He described it as “an insurance position that utilizes math and statistics. All you have to do is study and be able to pass a series of three-hour exams. And each time you pass one, you get a raise!” (He neglected to mention the amount of effort it took to pass them all!) Although my degree was in economics, I had taken a number of math courses and thought that the work sounded interesting. So, I interviewed with several insurance companies that had actuarial student programs, learned a little more about what actuaries did, and ended up accepting a position with Aetna Life & Casualty.


DESCRIBE ONE OF THE PROFESSIONALISM CHALLENGES YOU FACED EARLY IN YOUR CAREER. HOW DID YOU HANDLE IT?

While this is not really a “professionalism challenge,” I had one experience in my early career that concerned volunteering and giving back to the profession. Once I obtained my FCAS designation, my boss at the time asked me which CAS committee I was going to volunteer for. Having spent many years and a lot of effort to get through the exams, I said that I just wanted to focus on my work and enjoy more family time. After being asked the same question several more times in the next few months, I got the message and agreed to join the CAS’ committee on continuing education. (I wanted no part of an exam committee!) And it didn’t take long for me to realize some of the benefits of volunteering, including learning and interacting with other actuaries. As a result, I have served as a volunteer in one form or another every year since 1982.


WHAT ASPECT OF BEING AN ACTUARY DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST?  

I think it’s the idea of being able to explain issues that have actuarial implications to non-actuaries. When I was a consultant, and later as the chief actuary at the Connecticut Insurance Department, we often had issues that the client, the state legislature, or the NAIC were considering that required actuarial input. I always found these discussions to be not only interesting, but also a learning experience.​


TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN?  

I like outside activities including golf, fishing, downhill skiing, and spending time in the summer at the cottage on our island at a lake in Connecticut.        


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS JUST BEGINNING THEIR CAREER AS AN ACTUARY?    

I would encourage new actuaries to focus on not just mastering the technical skills required for their job, but also enhancing their communication skills. While they will need the technical expertise, they will also need to be able to explain their analyses and findings to whoever their “principal” is.

SEE MORE

Meet: Matthew Smith
Meet: Matthew Smith

"If you’re introverted, like me, push outside your comfort zone and work on your networking skills. It’s worth it!"

Meet: Mitchell Momanyi
Meet: Mitchell Momanyi

"Try as many things as possible in your career and make relationships with as many people as possible."

Meet: John Purple
Meet: John Purple

"...it didn’t take long for me to realize some of the benefits of volunteering, including learning and interacting with other actuaries."

Meet: Matthew Smith
Meet: Matthew Smith

"If you’re introverted, like me, push outside your comfort zone and work on your networking skills. It’s worth it!"

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