When Marcela Granados Lavoie, FCAS, speaks of her chosen field, her voice is alive with enthusiasm. It’s evident that she is deeply committed to the actuarial profession and fully enjoys her work as a consultant. After years of hard work to achieve mastery in the field, Granados Lavoie today serves as a manager in the advisory practice of Ernst & Young LLP (EY), focusing on the insurance sector. She is engaged in strengthening the EY brand and in building her own.
Granados Lavoie is Mexican, but she was born in the United States while her father was working on his doctorate there. She was raised in Mexico City and earned a B.S. in actuarial science. Recognizing that her opportunities in her country could be limited, she decided to move to the U.S. to progress in her career. Once in the U.S., she met her first big challenge: The stringent actuarial exams required for certification and employment obliged her to continue her studies while holding down a stopgap job.
Once over that hurdle, however, Granados Lavoie began her career with Liberty Mutual in Boston, where she served as an actuarial analyst in personal and commercial lines, broadening her experience in research, reserving and financial reporting. From there she moved on to AIG, soon becoming an actuarial manager and senior actuary, where she was chiefly involved in predictive modeling and pricing, her particular areas of expertise.
In fall 2014, she joined EY, where she provides actuarial solutions and advice. Granados Lavoie serves as lead manager on predictive analytics and lead reserve actuary for large global insurance companies, many in Latin America, including those operating in high-inflation environments. Her clients are both small and large insurers, reinsurers and run-off companies, in locations around the globe.
“EY is great at helping people build their own brand,” says Granados Lavoie. “As a huge firm with an extended global footprint, it does a lot of reserving and reviews for global clients,” which enables her to gratify her passion for travel and deploy her skills in places as far-flung as Europe, India and Latin America. Proficient in three languages — Spanish, English and French — she is also expert at adapting to and working within different cultures, applying the “high-quality standards” she has gained in the U.S.
Beyond her consulting and client service with EY, Granados Lavoie looks to the CAS as a platform for further expanding her career. She is an active member of the CAS Committee on Reserves, assisting authors and reviewing their papers, which she describes as providing a window into “the practical implementation of methodologies related to the actuarial world.” Working with the authors benefits her and EY as well, ultimately because the papers offer insights into the latest technologies and practices.
Granados Lavoie is also a member of the CAS Committee on Diversity, a post that holds special significance for her. She firmly believes in a culture of inclusion but observes that, although the actuarial profession appears quite diverse, certain groups remain underrepresented. Diversity is a positive force for both the profession and for the individuals in it, she notes, adding that isolation hampers people and makes it difficult for them to respond to the demands of a competitive global environment and progress in their careers.
Granados Lavoie is making efforts of her own to attract Latinos to the profession and help advance the careers of those already in it. Her agenda includes forming a society of Latino actuaries, along the lines of the International Association of Black Actuaries, which has had noteworthy success in helping to increase the number of black actuaries entering the field.
Granados Lavoie is also busy preparing presentations for upcoming conferences. She will present at the CAS Spring Meeting in Seattle on California workers’ compensation reforms and discuss books of business under changing economic conditions and differing degrees of inflation, an area she views as challenging for actuaries. In London this July, she will also present a times series model for the Cass Business School conference, “R in Insurance,” which deals with innovative technology applications in insurance and actuarial science.
With her impressive background, there is no doubt that Granados Lavoie will continue to succeed and to establish her mark in the profession.