I knew nothing about actuarial work until I happened to stumble across the Society of Actuaries website and thought, I could do this. I majored in economics at the University of Washington and my first professional jobs were in that field. Actuarial work looked more interesting and it paid better than what I'd been doing, so I thought I'd give it a shot.
I knew I needed to take the actuarial exams so I studied for them on my own and passed a couple of them. Then, through some networking, I got in touch with someone in Milliman's Seattle office. I sent my resume over, but there were no jobs available. Six months later, someone from Milliman called me back for an interview and I got a job. Thirteen years later, I'm still here.
Even though Milliman is a global firm, it's run like a small business. I like that. In a small business, everyone does a little bit of everything. It was a great fit for me from the very beginning. Here, you're encouraged to use your skills and try new ideas. No one will limit you but yourself.
I started my career in pensions but eventually moved into the Life practice because I liked the variety in the work. After working in Life for more than 10 years, I moved to Hong Kong to take over the Life practice here. Milliman is a dominant player in the field in the U.S., but we were relatively unknown in Asian markets outside of Japan and Korea when I got here three and a half years ago. That's changing now.
Building the Hong Kong practice was like starting from zero—it was scary. But I thought, I have nothing to lose. I had great support from my colleagues in the U.S., which helped a great deal. I just jumped in and started meeting people here, telling them about what we do and genuinely trying to make friends. I just told them the truth about who we were and how we worked. And we've grown a lot since then.
When I think back to my early expectations for my actuarial career, I'd have to say that my dreams came true. I love the environment here: It rewards motivation and hard work. I was willing to learn on the job and to challenge myself, and it's paid off. Now my goal is to continue to grow our business into a significantly larger practice in the near future.