Jessica Marshall

I manage the Seattle Milliman Benefits Service Center.

I moved here from Michigan and applied for an administrative assistant job in the defined benefit group.

I believe that the only way we can expect to offer quality service is to create an environment in which employees are happy and confident in their jobs. One of the most significant aspects of my work is cultivating employees who are not only highly qualified, but also happy in their work. My teammates make me proud of the service we provide.

It might sound corny, but I think the best thing about my job is knowing that we are really providing a service to people that makes a difference in their lives.

When a participant has a question about her retirement or health and welfare plan and she calls our center and gets the information that she needs in a way that is accurate and well communicated, that gives her confidence in the company that she works for and ultimately gives her confidence that her finances are in good hands.

Retirement can be a scary time for people who have worked their whole lives.

When I help someone start his or her retirement benefits, it’s a good feeling to know that our service makes it less stressful for them. After all, retirement should be a happy experience!

I think Milliman’s roots as an actuarial consulting firm make it well suited to branch out into benefits consulting, administration, and communications work because we provide a “soup-to-nuts” approach.

Pairing actuarial expertise with administrative and communications capabilities provides Milliman with a deep reservoir of knowledge, and we can then share that with our clients. In the current economic environment, such wisdom is especially important because many of our clients are facing special circumstances requiring reliable, practical consulting. Our clients need solutions that are sound from top to bottom.

I work in a contact center, so everyone here is by definition a “people person.”

Professionally, they impress me every day. Good service requires the ability to empathize with your customer base. But a service center that answers questions about retirement and health and welfare benefits necessitates that the people on my team also have the ability educate our callers on some complicated aspects of their benefits in a way that is easily understood by a very diverse demographic with different backgrounds and different needs. Health benefits and retirement plans are not always easy topics to explain—especially in tough economic times—but we’ve been able to find people who are talented, creative communicators, and who are empathetic to the individual needs of each of the plan participants. I respect everyone on my team for the great work they do, and that makes this a great place to work.

On a personal level, I find my team to be endlessly entertaining—each person has his own sense of humor and his own approach to work and life. We are all so different, yet we are all able to work together and get the job done, even while cracking jokes and having a good time.

Our work is driven by the needs of the participants in our plans, so each day is different.

Because we’re a service center, the atmosphere is almost always high-energy and people are constantly in motion. If participant needs and call volumes are high, our office atmosphere is intense. People who visit our offices notice the activity level here. You can often find people holding an impromptu meeting at a cubicle to discuss a unique or complex question that has come into the center. We’re almost always working together as a team. There is always a lot of laughter throughout the day in our workplace. We’re an office of constant interaction, both with the public and with each other, which lends itself to team members really getting to know each other… and I have to say, it lends itself to opportunities to showcase our team members’ unique senses of humor.

In my experience, there is a familial quality to Milliman's culture that I don't think you find at other companies.

Over the eight years I've been with Milliman, I've built significant working relationships with people. And at the end of the day I consider them good friends. Our team has a true sense of camaraderie.

I feel that Milliman is truly supportive of my having a life outside of work.

I’m content with my work/life balance. There are certainly some times when I feel that work is tipping the scale more than I would like. It makes it easier when what you are doing is challenging and engaging in a way that is rewarding, and most of the time I do feel that way.

When I’m not at work, I like doing things that are far away from a desk! I really enjoy running, hiking, and yoga. It’s almost river-rafting season, and I plan on getting out on the water at least a few times this summer.

Milliman’s approach is unique because of our ability to provide creative solutions.

From an outsourcing perspective, we’ve been able to be flexible with our clients, and not require them to fit into a preconceived model, but instead build a solution that works for both parties.

I never expected to be doing any of the things I’m doing now.

Before moving to Washington, I worked for Sun Microsystems Alliance and coordinated training for our clients. I never set out to be an expert in benefits contact center work, but Milliman provided me with a unique opportunity that has turned out to be right up my alley. I'm currently taking exams toward the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist designation.

I don’t think I even knew what an actuary was when I started at Milliman.

Once I figured it out, I assumed that actuarial work and benefits administration would be kind of boring. I’m surprised at how engaging and challenging the work has been and continues to be.

I advise new employees in my office to ask questions—often!

The world of employee benefits is a vast and complicated landscape, and our center has to cover a pretty significant acreage. The employees at Milliman are the strongest resource for knowledge, and they are always willing to share.

I also tell them to be aware of opportunities when they present themselves. Milliman has provided me with many opportunities, and because I've been up for the challenge, I've been successful. Milliman is really supportive of people who want to step up like that.

Q-FAT stands for Quality, Flexibility, Accountability, Teamwork. The term Q-FAT was coined about four years back when the employee benefits practice equity principals sponsored a contest to determine the best way to make our mission statement—“Building Trust, Enhancing Value”—and our four core values—(Quality, Flexibility, Accountability, and Teamwork)—resonate with the employees. One of the teams invented the Q-FAT Awards. Each quarter, employees nominate each other to receive an award for displaying one of the Q-FAT virtues.

I think these four core Q-FAT values really portray what Milliman is all about. It’s not just a gimmick that we print on Post-it notes and coffee mugs.

We absolutely live these values and reinforce them constantly. I often provide Q-FAT as the answer to “Why Milliman?” to both clients and job candidates.