A Less “Administrative” Administrator

Sean McDermott

Our Meet the Veep column introduces CAS Vice Presidents who serve on the Executive Council to our members and candidates. In this installment, we are pleased to introduce CAS Vice President-Administration Sean McDermott.

What do you do?

I’m the leader for the capital division of Willis Towers Watson’s risk consulting and Software segment, which includes management responsibility for the life, property-casualty and corporate practices for our Bermuda, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. offices. In addition, I’m involved with the coordination and delivery of Willis Towers Watson’s property-casualty merger & acquisition services.

What is your role as VP?

The VP-administration covers a few different areas of the CAS. For starters, I oversee the committees dealing with financial matters, like the Finance and Investment Committees. I also oversee the publishing function as well as the continuing education policy compliance. Basically, the VP-admin has responsibility for all the functions that do not fit neatly into what the other CAS VPs do.

What volunteer work had you done for CAS that led to your appointment as VP?

Most of my volunteer work has been in the administration areas. I served on the Finance Committee for many years and was appointed assistant treasurer for two separate terms. The assistant treasurer is an interesting position that is pretty low-key, but important for the day-to-day running of the CAS. The CAS executive director has a dollar limit on check payments. Any check payments that exceed a certain amount need signatures from the executive director and the assistant treasurer. By signing the CAS checks, you learn a lot about how the CAS runs. Through my work on the Finance Committee and as assistant treasurer, I gained valuable insights about the CAS finances and budgets and also got to work very closely with the CAS staff, which I have always enjoyed. After almost 30 years of volunteering and as the current VP-admin, I still rely on the CAS staff heavily and thank them for all they do!

What are your goals as VP?

Besides the goals specific to the work of the administration committees, like developing and presenting the annual budget for board approval, my goal is to streamline as much of the committee work as we can. I would like to make the administrative process less “administrative” so we can focus on moving things forward quickly.

Could you share an interesting fact about yourself?

I enjoy music and playing the guitar. Although an actuarial career has been good to me, I have not yet given up my dream of being a rock star. I am self-taught and enjoy figuring things out musically or writing the occasional song. Strumming and singing is a great way for me to relax, and hopefully those within earshot feel the same way.

When you meet new Associates and Fellows at the Spring and Annual Meetings, what information or advice do you try to impart to them?

When I talk to our newer members, I pass on some words of wisdom given to me by CAS Past President Al Beer many years ago when I was a college student. He told me that one of the great things about being an actuary is exposure to a wide variety of business and technical concepts. As you progress in your career, you find out what you like, and the credentials give you the flexibility to pursue a particular area or passion. For me, it was always working on the financial side of things, so I was drawn to reserving, mergers and acquisitions, and how insurance companies run. I try to stress to our new members that they need to find their niche and then excel in doing what they like.