A Day in the Life of Jamie, Associate Actuary
schedule 5 MINUTES

An interview with Jamie Featherston about her actuarial career at Pacific Life

schedule 5 MINUTES

How did you choose actuarial science as a career?

I attended Texas Christian University without a clear idea of a career path. Growing up in a household with two doctors, I initially thought I would follow in their footsteps and become a physician. However, I realized the nature of the job didn’t suit me.

Next, I considered law school. After all, if not medicine, then perhaps law? But during my law classes, I discovered something unexpected—I enjoyed the economics and math aspects of legal studies. It dawned on me that my true passion might lie in mathematics.

My math professors encouraged me to explore actuarial exams, and I found the structured path of exams appealing. While some people might view the prospect of taking ten exams as daunting, I saw it as a clear career trajectory. It meant my success was within my control, independent of external factors.

Embracing the challenge, I dedicated myself to passing these rigorous exams. It took time and effort, but I eventually succeeded. Proving to myself that I could balance work and exam preparation, I secured a job as an actuary after college. From there, my professional journey unfolded, and I’ve never looked back.

What is your advice for someone who's just getting into actuarial science?

My path as an actuary diverged slightly from the norm. Unlike those who aced every exam on their first attempt, I took my time. Life intervened, and that’s perfectly fine. 

Picture the tortoise and the hare. I was definitely the tortoise—steady, persistent, and deliberate. It took me a decade to conquer all those exams. And you know what? I still arrived at my destination. 

Here’s the truth: life happens. Sometimes you choose life over an exam, and that’s not failure—it’s balance. As actuaries, we’re wired to fear failure, but it’s woven into the job description. Embrace it. When you stumble, dust yourself off, and keep going. Because in the end, you’ll get there.
 

What is a typical day like for you as an actuary?

In my role on the newfound Enterprise Actuarial Projects Team, I act as a consultant to all actuaries at Pacific Life. My team’s mission is assisting with compliance, staff augmentation, resource allocation, and a lot of transformation work. Automation, best practices, operational efficiency—these are my buzzwords. We’re on a journey toward a future state where actuaries focus on data analytics and risk analysis, not manual data manipulation. So, my day-to-day revolves around optimizing our processes, making digital transformation a reality.

How do you achieve work life balance?

One of the aspects I truly appreciate about working at Pacific Life is the genuine respect for life beyond office hours. Living on the East Coast, I am three hours ahead of many of my coworkers. While this grants me productive mornings, it also means my workday extends into the evenings. Fortunately, my coworkers respect my evening time.

This cultural respect for personal time allows me to indulge in other pursuits. Recently, I got a cast iron Dutch Oven and I’m excited to test out recipes with it – sourdough bread anyone?

I’ve never been satisfied or placated in my work or hobbies. I love to challenge myself, so I’ve also committed to running the New York City Marathon this November. I’ve registered, raised the funds, and now it’s time to train. 

Fun Fact: Jamie is a talker

In our profession, having a social and outgoing personality has been a true blessing. There’s often a stereotype that mathematicians are introverted and prefer to be left to do their analysis on their own. But that’s never been my style. I love proving that actuaries can be good at technically challenging mathematic topics while simultaneously being loud, communicative and expressive!

A New Challenge

I love to challenge myself, so I’ve also committed to running the New York City Marathon this November. I’ve registered, raised the funds, and now it’s time to train.

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