Amy Juknelis has questions.
“How do we build skills of the future for our members?”
“How do we prepare members with skills in predictive analytics, problem solving, soft skills and continued domain knowledge?”
These and other inquiries are what motivate Juknelis in her role as CAS vice president of professional education (PE). This CAS Fellow works with CAS staff and volunteers to implement the CAS Board’s vision and strategy for all aspects of PE.
The CAS prides itself on offering world-class professional education throughout its members’ careers by keeping them informed of the latest developments in actuarial science, technology, soft skills and more — and Juknelis is committed to this objective. Since the start of her term in November 2019, she has anchored her PE goals to the CAS Strategic Plan and has led CAS staff on how to ensure that PE offerings continue to provide effective benefits to CAS members. Juknelis will complete her term at the 2022 Annual Business Meeting in Minneapolis.
Building a competency-based professional education program is chief among her objectives.
Building a competency-based professional education program is chief among her objectives. “It starts with the creation of a capability model that communicates the knowledge, skills and attributes that actuaries must have to function professionally in our industry. It outlines those at various skill levels. It’s going to help us learn where we have gaps in our current education, so we can design and fill some of those gaps.” Juknelis has high hopes for developing this capability model as a planning tool for members. “We can help them figure out where most effectively to spend their continuing education time in order to grow their knowledge in their career,” she said.
Juknelis is particularly excited about helping members build soft skills. “We’re working with some outside partners to build programs specifically for actuaries in communication and leadership, among others,” she said. These programs will leverage the experiences of experts in these critical areas to produce applications specific for actuaries.
When Juknelis thinks back over her tenure as VP, she is most proud of the work that the CAS staff and volunteers put in to ensure that robust PE offerings were available during the pandemic, when in-person meetings were no longer feasible.
“Professional education is a critical component of what we do every year at the CAS and what we provide to members,” Juknelis said. “It’s critical to advancing our profession and meeting our requirements to issue statements of actuarial opinion. All our plans and models had to be thrown out the window in March of 2020, but teams worked so quickly to move seminars to virtual. We had to pivot when numbers changed, and now teams are standing up these hybrid models to allow participants flexibility in how they want to consume professional education. Not only did we have to pivot, but the teams also reacted to what could be — permanent changes in the way people consume education. No one would have predicted this.”
Becoming a volunteer
Like many members, Juknelis began volunteering after she got her Fellowship. She started by grading exams. It wasn’t long after that she moved on to Regional Affiliate leadership, spending four years as the secretary/treasurer, vice president and president of the Midwestern Actuarial Forum.
Another opportunity to volunteer came about when she was working at Allstate. A coworker who was part of the CAS Ratemaking, Product and Modeling (RPM) Committee had planned to step back from volunteering and was looking for a replacement. “With the close tie of that work to what we do at Allstate, they asked for someone to replace them internally,” said Juknelis. “I place a huge amount of value on continuous learning and development professionally and personally, so I was eager and happy to raise my hand for that opportunity.”
Juknelis spent several years on the Planning Committee of the RPM Seminar, ultimately chairing it for a few years and then working to set up a few of the first microlearning offerings. After years of volunteering in leadership roles in the PE space, she became a natural fit for nomination for the VP role.
“I was just very interested in leading the group because of the large value I place on continuous learning and development,” said Juknelis. “At Allstate, I rarely stayed in one position for longer than three years. I continually have this itch of, ‘How do I keep growing and challenging myself with something new?’” She said that it can be easy to think about education as just something you need — that 30 hours every year to sign statements of actuarial opinion. “I think being really deliberate about developing ourselves is what keeps us sharp, innovative and future-focused as actuaries,” she said. “It allows us to continue to add value within society and the profession.”
Becoming and being an actuary
Juknelis was drawn to the actuarial profession through her uncle who was an actuary. Her love of math spurred a major in the subject, alongside a major in computer science at a small liberal arts school in Illinois. She interned and worked full-time with State Farm for a few years in their auto actuarial business unit. She then moved to Allstate and has been with the company for nearly 20 years, working her way up to supervisor, manager and director, taking on different assignments in pricing for home, auto and commercial lines. After branching out into broader product management, she now serves as vice president of Cross Line Management, designing cross-product strategies and capabilities and working to enable the delivery of the company’s suite of products and services into the market.
Today, Juknelis feels compelled to continue her volunteerism with the CAS.
“I love to continue to push myself and develop, and this has been a great experience to do that,” Juknelis said. “Even though I’m not in the actuarial space, I’m eager to continue to stay connected, develop myself and give back.”
Words of wisdom
Juknelis has some advice for fellow CAS members, the first of which is to focus on something you care about. “When you have passion for something, it doesn’t seem like work to spend the time, and it shows up in what you deliver,” she said.
“. . . Being really deliberate about developing ourselves is what keeps us sharp, innovative and future-focused as actuaries”
She also advises keeping collective success in mind. “We’re a really tight community of actuaries and staff, and we need each other to make meaningful progress,” said Juknelis. “So build those relationships, work collectively across your teams and with the staff, and I think that makes a meaningful impact.”
Her last piece of advice is to just say “yes” a lot. “It’s easy to pass up a volunteer role when it comes up, but if you say ‘no’ a lot, you find that people stop asking,” she said. “Be ready when those roles come up, and when the VP role comes up and you have that opportunity, say yes to that one.”
Visit the AR Web Exclusives page to watch Juknelis’s full interview.