Facing Everyday Challenges with Confidence

With a 25-year track record, Shawna Ackerman, President of the American Academy of Actuaries and Chief Actuary with the California Earthquake Authority, describes what role professionalism plays in her day-to-day life.

Shawna Ackerman, President of the American Academy of Actuaries

Smart and Efficient Choices

Professionalism in the workplace means constant attention to the Code of Conduct and the Actuarial Standards of Practice not only because it’s the right thing to do but because it’s smart and efficient. I am often asked to do one-off projects and I am always thankful that I document my work so that if I am asked to come back to it for updating – sometimes over a year later - I can see what I did, where I got the data and why I made the decisions I made. In other words, sometimes I am “the other actuary that could assume the assignment.” (ASOP 41, 3.8.)

"...sometimes I am 'the other actuary that could assume the assignment.'”

Decision-Making Based on Professionalism First: Standards, Responsibility, Competence, and Trust

When I was a consultant one of my projects was developing legislative costing for a proposed statute. There was, as is typically the case, varying views of the cost. My Principal wanted me to aggressively attack the opposition’s actuarial analysis. Instead, I convinced my Principal that an objective walk through of the differences in the two analyses would be a more effective approach. Following my presentation, the other actuary contacted me, thanked me for what he described as the most professional critique he had received, asked me for some additional documentation and ultimately updated his own analysis such that it was more in line with mine. Would he have been amenable to reconsidering his assumptions and data sources had I taken a more a aggressive approach? I can’t know. However, I was happy with the result and glad to have Precept 10 as support in discussing the approach with my Principal.

May, 2019

Shawna Ackerman

President, American Academy of Actuaries


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