Actuaries are a high-demand occupation. At UnitedHealth Group, we offer consultants and analyst role for those who want to travel or work out of our offices. Paul S., Vice President of Actuarial Pricing at UnitedHealth Group, offers his lens into the actuarial roles here.
1. How did you learn about UnitedHealth Group and why did you apply?
Living in the Twin Cities, and working as a healthcare actuary, I was very aware of UnitedHealth Group. I applied to join UnitedHealth Group for two key reasons. First, while I enjoyed being a consulting actuary, I always knew I eventually wanted to work for a health plan. It is one thing to give advice to your health plan clients, but owning the accountability for implementation of these ideas is more challenging. Second, I was looking for an opportunity that did not require the extensive travel schedule of a consulting actuary. My first role here fulfilled both objectives.
2. What’s the culture like within your department?
We strive to develop a culture of Integrity and Performance – we want to be known for never compromising our ethics, and always fulfilling our obligations on time. We encourage innovation – many people may not think of actuaries when they think of innovation, but we are always looking for new ways of doing our jobs that are more efficient, more accurate, or both. I’m always amazed at the innovative ideas brought by some of the newest members of our team – proof that fresh perspectives help breed new ideas. Finally, our team relies heavily on the work of other teams, and we in turn need to communicate our findings and recommendations to a broad matrix of teams. Therefore, we emphasize the importance of building and maintaining strong personal relationships with our many business partners.
3. What are some current industry trends and how is UnitedHealth Group facing those challenges?
From my perspective, there are significant movements going on to address hospital and physician payments (from payment for services to paying for value), and the recognition of increased consumerism in the selection of health plans. One thing is certain – there will be change, and we will need to demonstrate our ability to adapt and react to these rapidly changing conditions.
4. What tools or resources did you find most helpful when growing your career?
Early in my career, I worked at a company (not UHG) that had a large actuarial job rotation program. This program was incredibly valuable to my career development, since I was able to gain insight into very different businesses over just 6-7 years. It was for this reason that I was a strong supporter of UnitedHealth Group’s Actuarial Leadership Development Program.
5. How are you encouraging employees to grow their careers within UnitedHealth Group?
I try to stress three major principles to employees seeking to grow their careers:
a. Always focus on doing the best job you can with the job you currently have – don’t get distracted by focusing on your “next job”. If you do great work, opportunities for advancement will be there.
b. Don’t underestimate the power of relationships. Make as many as you can, and invest time in cultivating them.
c. Always seek ways to better yourself. Whether it’s pursuing actuarial credentials, an MBA, or striving to learn more about a different part of the business, the more you know, the more you have to offer.
6. What can applicants expect during the interview and hiring process at UnitedHealth Group?
Applicants can expect to be treated fairly and respectfully. They can also expect some pretty tough and thought-provoking questions, as we try to assess skills and abilities that may not be evident based solely from the GPA or a resume. We’re looking for future leaders. As such, the clarity and effectiveness with which you answer a question are very important to us. We’re interested not only in “what” you say, but “how” you say it.
7. What is one thing you wish more actuary candidates knew about our company?
UnitedHealth Group is one of the top employers of actuaries. It’s fun going to Society of Actuary meetings and seeing the huge number of attendees from the various UnitedHealth Group companies. We offer actuaries an unprecedented variety of career options. College students looking to begin their actuarial careers often struggle with the decision of whether to work for an insurance company or a consulting firm. With UHG, you don’t need to decide – you can do both. Optum has a large actuarial consulting practice and UnitedHealthcare is the largest health insurer in the country.
8. What are you passionate about outside of your career and how do you bring that passion to work?
One of my passions revolves around giving back to my community by sharing my time and talents with other organizations and people in need. One way I “give back” at work is through Our United Culture. Our culture shaping efforts at UnitedHealth Group resonated so strongly with me that I decided to go through the training process to become a culture facilitator.
Thank you for your insight Paul, we appreciate the time you took to answer these questions about actuarial careers here at UnitedHealth Group.