Are all Actuaries Nerds?

By Norman Levinrad • May 17, 2016 • 0 Comments
There is a perception that actuaries are a boring, nerdy bunch. But I know some of you have pretty cool hobbies, and there’s nothing people with hobbies enjoy more than talking about their hobbies (as anyone who I have corralled to talk about motorcycles knows full well). 

For example, Valerie Lopez, a senior actuary at ASC, told me she interviews comics for a local comedy podcast and cohosts another comedy podcast. Now that is a cool and interesting hobby! Following is a brief interview I did with Valerie about her hobby. 

If you want people to know about an exciting hobby of yours that blows up the stereotype of actuaries as boring nerds, email me about it we’ll include a short blurb telling our readers about it. 

Norm: How did you get into this hobby? 

Valerie: A few years ago, several of my friends were starting podcasts and I listen to a lot of them myself. I started a podcast with a friend of mine, but have always wanted to do an interview-style podcast (my heroes are Terry Gross of NPR Fresh Air and James Lipton of Inside the Actors Studio). My friend suggested starting an interview show on my favorite subject, comedy.
Norm: What’s the name of your own podcast? 

Valerie: Comedy Wham.
Norm: Have you tried to do stand up yourself? 

Valerie: No way! One thing I've learned from interviewing comics is that it’s not a lucrative business unless you go all in. It's not something you casually go into, much like the actuarial profession. In fact, it’s a lot like you can’t enjoy life as an actuary unless you go all in on the exams early on. At work, I’m the one that tries to break the silence with humor. I just have to remember that I have to keep it G-rated when I’m at work, though.
Norm: How does this help your pension work? Stress release or any other carryover effect? 

Valerie: It’s mostly a stress reliever. It’s a big project management experience — I do everything from scheduling interviews, researching the background of the comic, recording them, and sound production. I also go to a lot of local shows to get to know the comics to watch for. Sitting down with comics at various stages of their career, I get a great appreciation for the different walks of life that bring people to comedy. That certainly applies to the actuarial profession. We might be united by credentials, but each of us walked a very different path (some paths are longer than others, admittedly) to get there.