|Climbing the Actuarial Science Career Ladder: A Q&A with Alan Newsome '07
Even before he arrived at the Valley, Alan Newsome ’07 knew he wanted to study actuarial science—strong job prospects and a solid math emphasis convinced him that the field would be a good fit for him. Newsome added a second major in economics while at LVC, and as graduation approached, he found himself with several job offers to choose from. He decided to begin his career in Philadelphia with Towers Perrin, now Towers Watson, in the firm’s retirement systems group. In 2011, he moved on to John Hancock Financial Services in Boston, Mass., where today he’s involved in hedge operations as an associate actuary. A member of the Society of Actuaries, last year Newsome also joined LVC’s Leadership Council.
How did you acquire your competitive spirit?
I actually don’t find myself to be very competitive. I guess I’m competitive with myself—I’m a perfectionist—but not too much with others. There are good things and bad things about being a perfectionist. The good thing is that you always set aside time to look for mistakes and review your work. The bad thing is you’re always reviewing your work!
What motivates you?
Making sure I’m doing my best work and always looking for room for improvement.
What activities, people, or courses at LVC helped you prepare for success?
The actuarial science courses were very helpful. To pass the actuarial exams, there’s a lot of studying to do. One thing that’s different about Lebanon Valley is that they try to teach you how to teach yourself, which helps when studying independently for an exam. Also, I do a lot of writing now, so I’m glad I went to a liberal arts college. Professors even made us write essays in our math classes.
What’s most important to remain competitive in your field?
Work on developing your skills and making sure you get better at different things, and that you’re not just focusing on one area.
How do you prepare physically and mentally for competition?
Physically, being prepared is making sure you have enough rest and you’re not stressed. Mentally, whenever I’m working on something, I try to think about what others want to do with this information and what will be the follow-up questions. I think of it as a chess game—you always want to think ahead.
Who is your favorite competitive role model(s)?
I’d have to say my family. My mom is retired now, but she was a high school counselor in an inner-city school. Her work wasn’t easy and she might be faced with different options: You could do what you think is best and it might take a little more time, or you could take the easy way out. But she always did what she thought was best for the students.
Do you have a guiding philosophy about competition?
You want to do your best. You’re not just there to do the job—you want to do it well, put your whole heart in it. Find something you love doing and do it well.
What makes LVC competitive?
For me, it’s easy. I went to Lebanon Valley for actuarial science and I don’t know of any other schools its size with that major. It’s an excellent education. Actuarial science is very competitive and our graduates have done very well.
What advice would you give to current LVC students?
I’d tell them to work hard but not to take life too seriously. You want to work hard but you also want to enjoy the fruits of your labor.