PricewaterhouseCoopers, Chicago IL
Loyola Alumna Anne McCauley is an associate at PwC, a large consulting accounting firm. Her degree and internship experience at Loyola helped prepare her for her career.
What do you do as an associate at PwC?
As an Associate at PwC, I work in an actuarial capacity on a variety of healthcare and pension clients, both public and private. Much of my recurring work has to do with either yearly valuations or quarterly benefit statements. We also assist in preparing required disclosure information for our clients, and assist our audit teams in reviewing the reasonableness of assumed liabilities incurred due to the post-retirement benefits they offer their employees.
How did your MATH/STAT degree prepare you for your career?
Much of my work has to do with quantifying risk, so my Masters in Applied Statistics helped me understand the basic principles that underlie much of our work. Additionally, much of the healthcare work we do is run through SAS, so having a basic understanding of SAS programming has helped prepare me for work at PwC.
How has a degree from Loyola impacted your career?
Because of Loyola's location in Chicago, I was able to intern at PwC for an entire year before being hired full time, and interned for 6 months at Milliman, another actuarial firm in Chicago, before that. That experience proved to be incredibly helpful both in getting the full time offer, and having a good source of income while studying for my degree.
Did you get a graduate degree? Do you think a graduate degree is necessary for your specific job?
I did get a graduate degree, however, it is not necessary in the actuarial field. Actuaries take a series of rigorous exams, which usually take several years, even a decade or more, to finish. Passing these exams is absolutely essential for promotions and progress, as you cannot sign official actuarial documents without obtaining some sort of actuarial credential. However, your workplace will usually give you days off to study for your exams, and a stipend to buy study materials.
How do you use math in your day-to-day work?
Everything actuarially related is math and logic related. We work primarily in Excel, so a strong working knowledge of the formulas and programming in Excel is very useful.
What were your favorite math classes at Loyola? Which classes helped prepare you most for your career?
Since I work at an accounting firm, the introductory accounting class I took through the business school was very useful. I also found the SAS course to be very practical. The applied regression, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and corporate finance courses were also essential, as they count for Validation through Education Experience (or "VEE") credits, which you need to get your actuarial credential.
What is your favorite thing about being an Actuarial Associate?
I like the diversity of the work I see, and working in a large frim. As I mentioned earlier, as an Associate I work on both healthcare and pension work, which allows me to understand both sides fairly well before deciding which type of actuary I may want to become. We also get many ad hoc projects, which challenge us and force us to learn new things. Working in a large firm doesn't have as many constraints as a smaller firm may. For examples, promotions are based entirely on the individual's readiness and ability to handle a promotion, rather than whether or not there's "room" for another promotee.
What advice would you give students pondering a minor or major in MATH/STAT?
I would definitely suggest that anyone pondering a minor or major in mathematics or statistics goes for it. A degree in either is versatile enough that you will be able to go into one of many different career paths, and the way you learn to think from MATH/STAT courses is very useful.