Want to Be a CFO? Consider Some Numeric Body Art

There are all sorts of means to get on an upwardly cellular monitor that may well culminate in a CFO appointment.

Even obtaining a tattoo.

Just talk to Dave Raszeja. He’s bought 1 on his proper arm that sporting activities the to start with a hundred digits of pi.

Dave Raszeja

“Getting the pi tattoo was in all probability 1 of my improved vocation moves,” suggests Raszeja, who will take on his to start with CFO purpose on March 1 at Penn Mutual Everyday living Insurance coverage, a $3.3 billion revenue firm that manages some $33 billion in assets.

He’d been at Penn Mutual for four years when, in 2005 at age 30, he donned the tattoo to memorialize his enthusiasm for mathematics. A several years previously he’d been enthusiastically pursuing a graduate diploma in theoretical math, finding out these knotty topics as algebraic topology. Right after he bought his diploma, nevertheless, he switched his vocation aim.

“At some point it turned noticeable that I was likely to have to perform a great deal more durable or develop into a great deal smarter, and neither appeared imminent,” Raszeja suggests. “I had to get a position, so I decided to stick to the actuarial vocation path.”

That is what brought him to Penn Mutual. By 2005, he’d been an actuary-in-coaching for most of the past four years. One particular working day, when owning lunch in the firm cafeteria with a colleague, then-firm CEO Robert Chappell, who had a pattern of randomly sitting down with men and women at lunch, plopped down following to them.

“He asked what we did, and we described that we have been actuaries,” Raszeja recalls. “He explained that was intriguing, simply because he’d been considering the firm could do a great deal more with mathematics to develop into more data driven and analytically centered.”

Raszeja’s piece of pi

His colleague thereupon explained, “Hey, this guy’s bought pi tattooed on his arm.” Chappell asked to see it, so Raszeja rolled up his sleeve.

The CEO then relayed the story to the head of Penn Mutual’s expenditure perform, who contacted Raszeja and asked him to come and job interview for an open up hedging quantitative assessment position.

He landed the position. “I really discovered it a minimal challenging to go there and chat to those people people,” he suggests. “It was a complete new location of money mathematics that I hadn’t been exposed to. But they did a fantastic position instructing me about derivatives and quantitative assessment.”

Raszeja was taken with the lively atmosphere in the expenditure division, in contrast to the more staid 1 in actuarial. It was usually loud and raucous. There have been lively congratulations after very good trades have been manufactured. He and the other younger quants learned about derivatives in section by building spinoff “contracts” involving them and betting pennies on inventory sector results. “It was a rapid-paced mindset,” he suggests.

He previously knew he liked the stimulation of getting on different roles. He’d still left the actuarial location a few years previously to fill in for a recently departed staff in reinsurance administration. It was largely a clerical position, involving the preparation of billing reviews, for case in point.

“It may seem to be that it was a snoozer, but I discovered I could aid men and women style slick spreadsheets to get the billing finished [more rapidly],” Raszeja suggests. “It was quite great to make that kind of effect early in my vocation.”

He did not specialize in being in roles for extended durations of time. Raszeja has carried out 10 different jobs at Penn Mutual. The headquarters constructing has 6 wings, and he’s labored in 5 of them. “If I could get a position in income, I’d actually round out my résumé,” he jokes.

When the firm began an company chance administration division, its to start with chief had been head of fastened profits in the expenditure location. He brought Raszeja together with him, all over again in a quantitative assessment purpose.

“It was the to start with time I seemed across the complete firm, as very well as the broker-dealer affiliate marketers, seeking to broadly understand not just finance but also men and women and approach and how all of those people items labored together,” he suggests. “I was about 8 years into my vocation, and I really don’t believe several men and women get that look at of a firm the dimension of Penn Mutual that early.”

His following prevent was as chief of mortality administration. It was a little bit “wonky,” he suggests, but he put in ample time with the company’s direct underwriter, from whom he learned a great deal about income.

There have been also some granular but intriguing troubles to take care of. At the time the firm Raszeja was debating whether to allow daily life insurance policies customers to smoke “celebratory cigars” — as 1 may do, say, when participating in golf when a month — without the need of currently being billed smokers’ premiums. “It was an intriguing position on the practical facet,” he suggests.

Right after a few years, he discovered himself back in an actuarial purpose, but he decided he most well-liked the broad look at of company chance administration. But the firm had recently decentralized ERM, and Raszeja still left the firm to take a chance administration position in Cigna’s worldwide team. The position gave him world wide knowledge, together with frequent outings to Asia, and the chance to see how a a great deal larger firm differed from an operational standpoint.

Ethics and Possibility

Right after he’d put in 13 months at Cigna, Penn Mutual, which was organizing to reverse class and go back to centralized chance administration, brought him back as main chance officer. In 2014, he was asked to take on the extra purpose of main ethics officer. “I’m the only person I’ve ever listened to of who had both equally of those people roles at the identical time,” he suggests.

The ethics position was significant for his vocation. Even though the jobs he’d had ahead of have been analytical in mother nature, this was largely a men and women-centered write-up. “It actually set me up to hone my management competencies for the long term,” he suggests.

In 2019, when nonetheless main chance officer, Raszeja was named senior vice president of money administration and specified as the successor to CFO Susan Deakins, who was organizing to retire in early 2020. “She’s a mentor and I’ve been hunting over her shoulder,” he suggests. “She’s been incredibly generous with her time and has set me up for accomplishment, so it really should be a clean transition.”

The to start with priority in his new write-up will be to continue relocating ahead with data architecture upgrades. The money operations ramifications of owning legacy programs is an challenge for most of the insurance policies sector currently.

Raszeja suggests he’s been fortunate to shell out his vocation with Penn Mutual, simply because relocating about the firm is hugely inspired. “It’s a very good healthy for me,” he suggests. “You hear a great deal that you just can’t get forward until you adjust jobs, and I agree, but that does not suggest you have to leave the firm — if you are in the proper firm.”

He notes that an intriguing part of his vocation has been that in each position he’s had to use “different parts” of himself.

“I’m hearing more lately about men and women bringing their complete selves to perform, and I’m joyful that you can do that here,” he suggests. “And if a tattoo can give you some upward mobility, I believe which is a quite progressive and inclusive office.”

actuarial, main chance officer, Dave Raszeja, derivatives, company chance administration, mathematics, Penn Mutual, pi, quantitative assessment, Robert Chappell, Susan Deakins

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