MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

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

SHELDON SUMMERS
Specialty: Life

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME AN ACTUARY?

I grew up in Puerto Rico. When I was a sophomore in high school, I placed second in an island-wide high school math competition, and my prize included some books that described the actuarial profession. Years later, I took a two-year leave of absence from graduate school (Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh) to come out to Los Angeles. When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I looked for a “temporary” job; as part of that process, I applied for the insurance examiner civil service exam. Nine months later, I was contacted by John Montgomery, who was the chief actuary at the California Department of Insurance. By then I already had another job, but coincidentally the Department of Insurance was in the same building where I was working, so I decided to interview at the department because it was so convenient, and the position had to do with actuarial work. After talking to John, I decided to change jobs. I extended my leave of absence at Carnegie Mellon for two more years, but never went back.


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

I don’t recall any major professionalism-related challenges, but I have over my career informally consulted at least a few times with members of the Actuarial Board for Counseling and Discipline to get their advice in dealing with specific matters. This has been very helpful.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU WISH YOU WERE GIVEN AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CAREER?  

Join a Toastmasters Club.


TELL US ABOUT A TIME WHERE YOUR ACTUARIAL EXPERTISE INFLUENCED AN IMPORTANT DECISION IN YOUR WORKPLACE  

Around the late 1980s, I attended an NAIC working group meeting that was formed to address the treatment of the sale of certain non-admitted assets. Just prior to the end of the meeting, I suggested that the working group take on a project to revise the life reinsurance risk transfer model regulation. As a result of my suggestion, I was appointed as chair of a subgroup of the working group. Five other volunteers and I developed the version of the Life and Health Reinsurance Agreements Model Regulation that was adopted by the NAIC in the early 1990s. This model regulation was the basis for the regulation adopted in California, and it influenced decisions regarding denial of reinsurance credit with respect to some companies’ reinsurance agreements. In some cases, the impact was significant.

WHAT IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST LESSONS YOU’VE LEARNED IN YOUR CAREER?

As a manager, decisions regarding new hires to fill vacant positions are some of the most important ones that will be made.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE ANYTHING ELSE WITH ASPIRING OR NEW ACTUARIES, OR THOSE INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING FOR THE ACADEMY?

Yes, getting involved in one or more Academy work groups or committees will be an invaluable experience, and is a great way to make actuarial connections.


SHARE A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR HOBBIES OR OTHER PERSONAL INTERESTS?  

I’ve been married for over 41 years, and have two sons, one daughter, and two granddaughters. As is the case with many parents, when they were young, I spent most of my free time attending (and in some cases coaching) the many extracurricular activities they were involved in. These included basketball games, volleyball games, baseball games, soccer games, and dance and singing recitals and competitions. After they finished high school, we spent many weekends away from home to attend their college soccer games. Now that they are adults, my wife and I spend a fair amount of time each month at our second home in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., where we ride our bikes and enjoy other outdoor activities. We also enjoy cruising a couple times a year but haven’t been able to do that since the pandemic started.  

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SEE MORE

Meet: Nancy Behrens
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"Cultivate relationships with your non-actuarial colleagues, recognize the perspective they bring to the table and give them the same respect that you give to actuaries."

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Meet: Alan Putney
Meet: Alan Putney

"Get your credentials, learn to work with others, jump into new things, and challenge yourself. You will never grow without doing these things."

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Meet: Rhonda Ahrens
Meet: Rhonda Ahrens

"In 25 years, I can honestly say my job has never been boring. It has been complicated, intimidating, even frustrating, but I continue to learn and to find satisfaction in the topics that I continue to learn about."

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Meet: Nancy Behrens
Meet: Nancy Behrens

"Cultivate relationships with your non-actuarial colleagues, recognize the perspective they bring to the table and give them the same respect that you give to actuaries."

press to zoom
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