Forging ahead: Cosmin Vlad of MetLife Romania
When did you first consider an actuarial career and why?
Back in 2009 an HR business partner noticed my skills and advised me to talk to the actuarial team. I specifically remember she said, “this will be a launch ramp for you” and it was. The actuaries were also the coolest, most united team in the company – that mattered.
What subject(s) did you study at university?
I have a bachelors degree and a masters in accounting and audit so, obviously, a lot of accounting, which did help me with the CT2 exam.
What has been most challenging throughout your work/study life to date?
On the exams side I did not find anything to be too difficult, possibly because I took a very structured approach for the preparation. Waiting for the results was the difficult part.
On the job side, I did struggle with corporate politics – I understood them, but I wanted to avoid them. I lost some good pitches because of my approach.
How do you relax in your spare time?
I’m a fitness enthusiast – I really enjoy weight training and running. I believe there is no reason why you shouldn’t push your body just as hard as you push your brain. I also play guitar – still mediocre at best, but the actuarial blues are helping me relax.
What do you enjoy most about being an actuary?
Being an actuary is quite enjoyable itself – it’s a cool and rewarding job, made better by working with great people. I really appreciate the central role actuarial teams hold in insurance companies, being able to tie together different areas of the company for optimal solutions – finance, sales, underwriting, claims, customer service.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing managers and I want to pass that on as much as possible. Secondly, I want to take on more management and executive responsibilities, possibly all the way to the top of the organisation.
What is your most actuarial habit?
I tell accounting jokes. Given my accounting background, I’m one of the few that can get away with it.
What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Most of my choices appear to have paid off well, so it’s difficult to say now which one was the riskiest. Maybe changing companies six years back, while already having a clear career path. The new position was much more business-oriented and the company culture was very different. Changing companies is something that helped me broaden my horizons and boost my professional growth.
Who is your role model – in life or in business?
That would be Arnold Schwarzenegger (readers’ eyebrows raised now!) – he really has an impressive life story. I really appreciate his work ethic and approach to life in general.
On the business side I often ask myself: would Razvan Carstoiu be happy with this? Razvan is a fellow actuary who helped me a lot to grow as an actuary, and I still hold him as the standard for skill and professionalism.
Give one piece of advice to the next generation of students entering the profession.
I can only say what has worked for me – prioritising what you think is important, being disciplined and finding your passion.
Name one skill that is an important quality for an actuary (other than technical skills).
Communication. As professionals we have the quantitative skills and can generate perfectly viable business solutions, but communication is where I failed early in my career, and where I have seen many actuaries struggle.
Now that you have qualified… what next?
I’m currently transitioning to a head of services and operations role. I’m still looking forward to the SA2 results and full qualification, though.