CCA Member Spotlight

The consulting actuary doesn’t sit on the sidelines. We’re front and center – the movers and shakers – unafraid of using our powers of intellect and charm to advise and conquer. We’re also individuals with countless extraordinary stories to tell. This page will feature the stories of CCA members - who they are and what they do both inside and out of the actuarial world.

Josh Shapiro Picture

Meet CCA Member: Josh Shapiro

Meet your fellow CCA member and speaker, Josh Shapiro. He’s passionate, humble tenacious and dedicated to his work. He’s a fan of Pink Floyd and has a few other favorites you can read about in his profile. 

Name: Josh Shapiro | Location: Washington, DC | Employer: Groom Law Group | Area of Practice: Retirement

I got into the actuarial profession by default. I chose mathematics as my college major solely because I enjoyed the subject, and did not have any particular career direction in mind. After graduation I found myself suddenly in need of a career, and sought actuarial jobs mainly because I was qualified and they were available.

I am as passionate of a fan of the band Pink Floyd as you are likely to meet.
 

My favorite book is Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. I used to think it was a work of fiction, but now I have some doubts about that.

My greatest professional accomplishment is being selected to serve as vice-president for pensions for the American Academy of Actuaries. Over the years I’ve struggled with self-doubt and considered leaving the profession on several occasions because I did not feel I was any good at it. Receiving that honor meant more to me than I could ever properly put into words.

My favorite experiences working with CCA have been speaking about the need for pension reform in a variety of meeting sessions and webinars. I have great passion for this topic, and have enjoyed the opportunity to share that passion with other members of the profession.

I studied mathematics at Cornell University.

Success is the bringing of positive things into the world. There can be huge successes like discovering a treatment for cancer, medium successes like supporting a charity that helps those in need, or small successes like putting a smile on someone’s face. The number of successes a person has is just as important as the size.

Focusing on retirement actuaries, our future lies in thinking beyond the traditional defined benefit and defined contribution models. Neither of these approaches truly meet the needs of both employers and employees, and we are in the best position to develop and promote new models to revitalize employer-sponsored retirement plans.

That's far too broad of a question to fully address here, but I'll share one small piece of my consulting philosophy. If someone asks you a yes-or-no question, you can respond with as many words as you need, but among those words must be a yes or a no.

I have extremely strong opinions on calculators. I still use the very same HP-12C that was handed to me on my first day as an actuary 25 years ago, and am more attached to it than most people would consider healthy. It is a good luck charm and security item – so much so that I frequently carry it with me to meetings and presentations when there is no chance I will actually use it.

Like many actuaries, I could see myself teaching math someday. My less likely, but more interesting, career dream is to open a gourmet food store.

I have double-jointed thumbs.

[Have a question for Josh? Send the CCA an email at conference@ccactuaries.org containing your contact information, and we’ll get the message to her on your behalf.]

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