The President’s Award was presented to Colin Dutkiewicz on 24 June 2021 in recognition of his leadership of the IFoA COVID-19 Action Taskforce – ICAT. ICAT coordinated IFoA’s response to the pandemic in 2020-21 and experimented with new ways of working and member engagement. Its successes included mobilising more than 500 volunteers across 92 workstreams and providing practical and valuable content to members in all practice areas.
Colin was also instrumental in organising the highly praised ‘Actuarial Innovation in Covid-19 Era’ webinar series in 2021.
Recently, I posed several questions to Colin.
What made you step forward to lead ICAT and what did you enjoy most about it?
To me it was just obvious that actuaries and the IFOA needed to step up and encourage discussion and content on all matters do with COVID. And of course I couldn’t sit back and wait for others, so I expressed my feelings that we needed to get moving and luckily then had the chance to push that forward. I am a person of action!
What was the consequential aspect of ICAT and what did you learn most from leading the diverse team?
Leading the team was exhilarating. Every day something new would happen, and with so may willing people, we could really get a significant amount of thinking going. The diverse nature of the team – by nationality, profession, age, experience level, point-of-view – meant that new ideas were never hard to find. However prioritising was harder -at one stage we had 93 workstreams covering all aspects of the pandemic as well as all the actuarial practice areas – prioritising these was hard.
Could you tell us why you decided to be an actuary?
The actuarial outlook is vast. Covering all manner of demographic and financial aspects, and of course crystal ball gazing for the next 50 years. I was drawn to this mode of thinking and the impact it could have on financial planning. It was scenario planning that many people spoke about, but with the demographic and economic quantification of outcomes.
Can you tell us a story from your childhood which inspires you to be what you are today?
I remember in the 80s when computers were just entering homes, I started reviewing games for magazines. By which I mean I asked the game manufactures if they wanted their games reviewed and asked the magazines if they’d like game reviews. And by doing so I got free games and got people to listen to my opinions of what worked and didn’t work. This thought process continues to inspire my activity – think about things; talk to all people involved and a natural place of connecting the dots for the bigger picture will emerge.
Can you tell us the biggest regret or mistake you have made, and what you learnt from it?
In the early 90s I started writing webpages on the then emerging world wide web. No one appreciated the hyperlinked documents I created so I stopped writing them! I learnt that when something seems natural and powerful to you, you need to investigate it further and follow your gut instinct!
If there is one thing you like to see changed in the IFoA and the profession, what will that be?
I am a very big supporter of the associate level qualifications. There should be a natural technician level, and a natural further practicing actuary level. This then facilitates having technicians and actuaries in more domains – data science, AI, banking, credit, Insuretech etc.
Can you tell us something which is not widely known about you?
I used to be a triathlon coach. I really enjoyed figuring out what people’s motivation was to take on such a big challenge and then see it through with all the training and preparation that is required. Crowning moment of that was being on the dance floor at 1am after an ironman – 7 of us, me, my 5 athletes and the guy who won the race!