Want to Be a CFO? Consider Some Numeric Body Art

There are all kinds of approaches to get on an upwardly cell keep track of that could culminate in a CFO appointment.

Even having a tattoo.

Just inquire Dave Raszeja. He’s acquired one particular on his ideal arm that athletics the very first 100 digits of pi.

Dave Raszeja

“Getting the pi tattoo was possibly one particular of my better profession moves,” states Raszeja, who will consider on his very first CFO part on March one at Penn Mutual Life Coverage, a $three.three billion revenue business that manages some $33 billion in assets.

He’d been at Penn Mutual for four many years when, in 2005 at age thirty, he donned the tattoo to memorialize his enthusiasm for mathematics. A few many years before he’d been enthusiastically pursuing a graduate diploma in theoretical math, learning these knotty topics as algebraic topology. After he acquired his diploma, although, he switched his profession target.

“At some issue it turned evident that I was heading to have to operate much more difficult or develop into much smarter, and neither seemed imminent,” Raszeja states. “I had to get a occupation, so I resolved to adhere to the actuarial profession route.”

That’s what introduced him to Penn Mutual. By 2005, he’d been an actuary-in-training for most of the previous four many years. A single working day, although owning lunch in the business cafeteria with a colleague, then-business CEO Robert Chappell, who had a pattern of randomly sitting down with individuals at lunch, plopped down future to them.

“He asked what we did, and we explained that we were being actuaries,” Raszeja recalls. “He said that was fascinating, due to the fact he’d been pondering the business could do a whole lot a lot more with mathematics to develop into a lot more knowledge driven and analytically targeted.”

Raszeja’s piece of pi

His colleague thereupon said, “Hey, this guy’s acquired pi tattooed on his arm.” Chappell asked to see it, so Raszeja rolled up his sleeve.

The CEO then relayed the story to the head of Penn Mutual’s financial commitment operate, who contacted Raszeja and asked him to come and interview for an open hedging quantitative assessment situation.

He landed the occupation. “I essentially uncovered it a small challenging to go there and chat to those folks,” he states. “It was a complete new region of financial mathematics that I hadn’t been uncovered to. But they did a superb occupation instructing me about derivatives and quantitative assessment.”

Raszeja was taken with the lively environment in the financial commitment section, in contrast to the a lot more staid one particular in actuarial. It was normally loud and raucous. There were being lively congratulations immediately after great trades were being manufactured. He and the other younger quants acquired about derivatives in portion by making by-product “contracts” among them and betting pennies on stock marketplace success. “It was a quickly-paced attitude,” he states.

He already understood he enjoyed the stimulation of having on diverse roles. He’d left the actuarial region a few many years before to fill in for a recently departed staff in reinsurance administration. It was mostly a clerical occupation, involving the planning of billing stories, for instance.

“It could seem to be that it was a snoozer, but I uncovered I could help individuals design and style slick spreadsheets to get the billing performed [a lot more swiftly],” Raszeja states. “It was pretty amazing to make that form of affect early in my profession.”

He didn’t focus in remaining in roles for very long durations of time. Raszeja has done 10 diverse careers at Penn Mutual. The headquarters building has 6 wings, and he’s worked in 5 of them. “If I could get a occupation in sales, I’d really round out my résumé,” he jokes.

When the business started an enterprise danger administration section, its very first leader had been head of mounted earnings in the financial commitment region. He introduced Raszeja together with him, once more in a quantitative assessment part.

“It was the very first time I seemed throughout the complete business, as very well as the broker-seller affiliates, seeking to broadly fully grasp not just finance but also individuals and system and how all of those things worked jointly,” he states. “I was about 8 many years into my profession, and I really don’t consider numerous individuals get that check out of a business the size of Penn Mutual that early.”

His future end was as leader of mortality administration. It was a bit “wonky,” he states, but he spent ample time with the company’s direct underwriter, from whom he acquired a whole lot about sales.

There were being also some granular but fascinating issues to handle. At the time the business Raszeja was debating no matter if to let lifestyle coverage customers to smoke “celebratory cigars” — as one particular could do, say, when playing golf at the time a month — with out becoming charged smokers’ fees. “It was an fascinating occupation on the realistic facet,” he states.

After a few many years, he uncovered himself again in an actuarial part, but he resolved he favored the wide check out of enterprise danger administration. But the business had recently decentralized ERM, and Raszeja left the business to consider a danger administration situation in Cigna’s global team. The occupation gave him worldwide practical experience, like recurrent outings to Asia, and the possibility to see how a much more substantial business differed from an operational standpoint.

Ethics and Possibility

After he’d spent 13 months at Cigna, Penn Mutual, which was preparing to reverse class and go again to centralized danger administration, introduced him again as main danger officer. In 2014, he was asked to consider on the more part of main ethics officer. “I’m the only individual I have at any time listened to of who had both of those roles at the identical time,” he states.

The ethics situation was vital for his profession. Although the careers he’d had before were being analytical in nature, this was mostly a individuals-targeted write-up. “It really established me up to hone my leadership abilities for the long term,” he states.

In 2019, although still main danger officer, Raszeja was named senior vice president of financial management and selected as the successor to CFO Susan Deakins, who was preparing to retire in early 2020. “She’s a mentor and I have been on the lookout about her shoulder,” he states. “She’s been extremely generous with her time and has established me up for good results, so it should really be a clean transition.”

The very first priority in his new write-up will be to continue relocating ahead with knowledge architecture updates. The financial operations ramifications of owning legacy techniques is an concern for most of the coverage business nowadays.

Raszeja states he’s been fortunate to expend his profession with Penn Mutual, due to the fact relocating all-around the business is extremely encouraged. “It’s a great match for me,” he states. “You hear a whole lot that you just can’t get forward unless you alter careers, and I agree, but that doesn’t suggest you have to go away the business — if you are in the ideal business.”

He notes that an fascinating aspect of his profession has been that in every single occupation he’s had to use “different parts” of himself.

“I’m listening to a lot more these days about individuals bringing their complete selves to operate, and I’m satisfied that you can do that below,” he states. “And if a tattoo can give you some upward mobility, I consider that is a pretty progressive and inclusive place of work.”

actuarial, main danger officer, Dave Raszeja, derivatives, enterprise danger administration, mathematics, Penn Mutual, pi, quantitative assessment, Robert Chappell, Susan Deakins