An Actuary Like Me – Frank Chang

Actuaries balance practical and environmental considerations with technical skills and discipline.

Frank started his career in a traditional field, before becoming Google’s first actuary in 2012 and joining Uber as their first actuary in 2014. He is currently a Vice President at Uber, leading actuaries, risk, data, and applied scientists within Core Services. Frank holds a B.A. in Music and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from UCSD, and is currently the President Elect of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). 

Why are you proud to be an actuary?

Actuaries balance practical and environmental considerations with technical skills and discipline. There is no other profession that requires professionalism in all these dimensions at once. 

What is the most valuable skill an actuary can possess?

An actuary needs intellectual curiosity. The best actuaries are the ones who ask questions, test viewpoints from other actuaries, stay up-to-date on techniques and developments, and are constantly learning. Our world is constantly evolving and thus, so must our profession.  

What is your advice for younger/rising actuaries?

The exams give you a foundation for learning and learning shouldn’t stop with the exams. 

What’s something an outsider wouldn’t know about your industry?  

Both at Google and at Uber, non-actuaries are constantly surprised at how deep we are on general insurance, how high the quality is of our work product, and how carefully we document for reproducibility.   

Any other cities/countries you have worked in? 

Although I’m based in San Francisco, I have a global team, so I regularly visit Chicago, New York, London, Amsterdam, São Paulo, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. 

What’s the most interesting trend for 2023?  

By far, the most interesting trend is the advent of solid generative AI like ChatGPT. We are just starting to explore applications for this technology. Also, the collapse and distress of a few well-known banks will continue to impact us well past their news cycle.  

Frank speaks about AI at ICA2023 in Sydney

Where do you see the biggest growth opportunities for actuaries?  

Actuaries should continue to serve the insurance industry in various roles – our education makes us good general insurance professionals. More importantly, though, actuaries should expand and find employment outside of insurance. Our unique combination of skills prepares us well for roles outside insurance in general risk management and data science. 

What do you do to recharge each day?  

Exercise helps me to recharge, however, if I’m at home and have time, I’ll play around on my piano. 

What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?  

When I have the time, I like to make sourdough bread, hike, and play music with others.  

What’s the phone app you use most?  

Besides the Gmail app, my phone tells me it’s Chrome, New York Times, Facebook (short videos), and Duolingo.  

What is your favourite random fact?  

You can’t comb a sphere. 

What is on your bucket list?  

I’ve just checked off going to Sydney! 

If you had millions of dollars, what would you do every day?  

It wouldn’t be very different from today – I’m very busy, but I can’t complain! 

If you lived 500 years in the future, what do you think your profession would be?  

I may be using different tools, working on different problems, but would still consider myself an actuary, marrying the quantitative and qualitative considerations to make practical, data-informed recommendations. 

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