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Ask an Actuary

Kwame Davis

Ask an Actuary

Kwame Davis, FCAS, MAAA, is a consulting actuary at Willis Towers Watson in the Washington, DC metro area.

Q: When did you first decide to become an actuary?

After trying to become an accountant didn't appeal to me.

Q: Who or what influenced your decision?

The need for more in-depth analysis influenced my decision. I also learned about the profession at a college fair at my high school in Trinidad and Tobago.

Q: What is your educational background? Where did you attend college, and what was your major? Did you have any internships during college?

I have a bachelor of business administration in Insurance from Howard University. Yes, I had 3 internships after each year of college. I had to really promote myself to get the first internship.

Q: What classes did you take in college that helped prepare you for the career? What class was most helpful? What non-quantitative classes were helpful?

Calculus, probability and statistics were quite helpful. My English, philosophy and business communications classes helped me think critically as well and to express myself articulately.

Q: What was your first job in the profession? How did you get the job? Did you start as an intern or in an actuarial training program? What type of work did you perform in you first actuarial job?

I was an intern working on health and retirement analyses. I did mainly benefit calculations. I did this for two summers then I switched to property/casualty for my last internship with the company that eventually became my current employer - Willis Towers Watson.

Q: Was the job like you expected? Did you have any second thoughts?

Not quite. The job has tested my skills to be sure and provided tremendous growth but I didn't expect to spend as much time communicating via e-mail. My career is much more collaborative than I imagined. Exams were also tougher than expected.

Q: When did you take your first exam? How long did it take for you to get through the exam process? Did you find studying for exams to be very helpful for your work?

I sat for my first exam just after completing freshmen year. The entire exam process took approximately 7 ½- 9 years depending on if you count the year I took off from exams for senior year of college. Yes, exams have been helpful for my job though the degree of helpfulness varied significantly by exam.

Q: What was your career path from your first job to your current position?

I was an intern, then was hired full time as a junior analyst, grew into a senior analyst and then made the leap to consultant. All at the same firm, Willis Towers Watson which was formerly Towers Perrin then merged to become Towers Watson and merged again to become Willis Towers Watson.

Q: What type of work do you do on a day-to-day basis in your current position?

I am primarily a reserving actuary so I help my clients decide how much they need to set asisde for their various property/casualty exposures.

Q: How long have you been in the profession?

10-11 years (as a full time employee not including internships)

Q: What do you like best about your job?

The ability to work on a wide variety of assignments. There is rarely a dull moment.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in becoming an actuary?

While others would suggest to hone your analytical skills as much as possible, I would also say learn to program, present, write and communicate effectively and also learn the business side of things. There are many skills you need to learn to be a good actuary. You really have to believe in continuous improvement and try to be well rounded with a few defining skills.