I met Ken Mungan, the head of the Chicago Financial Risk Management practice, in a Starbucks during the summer after my sophomore year. He invited me to see the office the next day and I started an internship soon after. I now work in the FRM practice as a part of the outsourcing group. Companies fully outsource everything to us, from the data compilation to the reporting of their variable annuity hedging.
Our work environment seems to be more relaxed and flexible than that of most big companies.
I work with a variety of people who range from actuaries to back office to traders. It is generally a pretty relaxed atmosphere in which everyone is friendly and willing to help each other out. At the same time, everyone works hard and is very diligent about work and meeting clients' needs. The corporate hierarchy at Milliman is as flat as a pancake compared to the endless ladders that define most other companies. Everyone is very friendly and open to helping whenever anyone is having difficulty on a given task. This is a stark contrast with the picture of corporate America that I’d always envisioned (and dreaded).
Milliman’s actuarial background is an advantage.
We bring an actuarial perspective to a field that has traditionally been dominated by investment banks or similar companies. Since we look at everything in a very statistical and analytical way, we do not fall into any speculative traps that might be a problem for other companies.
There are two main cycles during the year that affect work/life balance.
First, I take exams in May and November. This tends to tilt the balance more toward work (if you include studying as work) in the weeks/months leading up to those exams. Second, our clients tend to plan for the next year starting in the fall and then implement those changes during the spring, which results in work for us during that time. Consequently, I have to keep these things in mind when making any plans. However, since Milliman is extremely flexible with schedules in general, the impact of those cycles isn't as intense as it might be at another firm, so maintaining a good balance of work/life is not difficult.
When I’m not working, I hang out with friends, try to get some exercise (anything from getting outside and running errands to going to the gym), read for pleasure, or just try to figure out something new to try and do it. I also head out to Colorado each summer for an outdoors trip which usually consists of backpacking, climbing, and mountain biking—and we may add in some river rafting this year.
The most significant outcome of my work is simple, but important.
Ultimately, we’re trying to keep these companies in business so that the retirement products they sell can actually be paid out when people need them.
As a new Milliman employee, try not to get overwhelmed because although there will be a lot of new things to learn, no one is going to expect you to understand everything the first day.
The Milliman FRM practice is an innovative group that offers flexibility, lots of opportunity to learn and grow, and the ability to excel in a unique area of the quickly expanding VA market.