Kelly Gates is a Pricing Actuary on the Commercial Auto team at Zurich North America. She is an Associate of the CAS and is currently working on her last exam for her Fellowship. She is a graduate of Lafayette College.
Why would you recommend a career in the insurance industry to current college students?
I think it would surprise most college students that a career in the insurance industry has a variety of exciting opportunities, especially for actuaries. Getting your credentials provides a springboard to follow a more technical career or pursue non-traditional roles. So far in my career I’ve spent time in rate filing support and pricing. However, there are so many more avenues I intend on exploring. In fact, I’m incredibly excited about my next opportunity with Zurich. I’m currently in the process of finalizing the details for a two-year rotation in Dublin, Ireland.
Why did you become an actuary?
I started studying for actuarial exams as a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote village in Cameroon, Africa. My schedule was very different during my service, and studying for exams helped me mentally get through a lot of the emotional obstacles I faced. Watching the young women and girls in my village made me quickly realize the opportunities I have in my life. This perspective helped me pass my first two exams during my time in Africa. It sparked a passion, and it took two years in a remote village for me to find this focus in my life.
What drew you to a career in property and casualty insurance?
I believed that the property and casualty industry would be a stable choice, and I don’t regret my decision. I’ve spent a majority of my career working in Commercial Auto, which is a line that has experienced rate increases across the industry due to an increase in frequency and severity of collisions that are partially caused by distracted driving. In addition, there are more people on the roads in a strong economy when there are lower fuel prices. Helping our customers navigate these risks has exposed me to a variety of different projects.
What can students do now to prepare for a career in the industry?
Students should learn to communicate the technical work they will do as actuaries. As an actuary, I know how important strong communication skills are to being successful in the role. Take the opportunity to learn these skills during school. If you can’t properly translate your insights, then you won’t have success getting them implemented. Take opportunities to work with non-actuaries early in your career to help develop non-technical skills and to better understand how to translate your work.