In the dynamic world of health care, actuaries play a pivotal role in shaping the future of insurance and health services. At Blue Shield of California, this vital task is undertaken by a team of skilled professionals, each bringing a unique perspective to the complex world of health insurance analytics. Among these experts are Kevin Tu and Taylor Grimes, Actuarial Analysts who work on the Individual, Small Groups, and Pricing Shared Services team. 

As we delve into our interview with Kevin and Taylor, we’ll explore their backgrounds, day-to-day responsibilities, and the impactful work they do at Blue Shield. Under Kathryn Qin’s leadership, Kevin and his team exemplify how actuarial analysis isn’t just about numbers — it’s about the lives and well-being of countless individuals. Continue reading to discover the stories behine the data revealing what it’s like to work at Blue Shield as an Actuarial Analyst and the unique challenges and rewards that come with the role. 

What first brought you to Blue Shield?

Taylor Grimes 1
Taylor Grimes

Taylor: I became interested in Blue Shield in college. I was part of an actuarial organization called Gamma lota Sigma, and Blue Shield contacted them looking for interns. The more I looked into the opportunity, the more it really attracted me. Blue Shield’s mission statement and 2% pledge made me think it would be a meaningful place to work.

Kevin: I am particularly proud that Blue Shield is a nonprofit. Working on products, I can see how my daily work trickles down into living and embodying our mission. We are trying to create a product that is affordable for our family and friends. In the health insurance industry, we can often be seen as the bad guys, but here I feel like we’re doing something good in the sense that we’re not seeking to profit from a necessity.

How long have you been with Blue Shield?

Taylor: Since the summer of 2022, so approaching two years.

Kevin: Four years now, coming up on five in July.

Kevin, you’ll be eligible for your sabbatical soon. Any thoughts on how you’ll be spending your four weeks of paid time off?

I’m planning on doing some traveling. So far, I’ll be spending a week in Korea, Japan, and maybe Germany.

What does a typical workday look like for an actuarial analyst?

Taylor: On a typical day, I go through approximately 20 emails, sift through the important info, and from there, I have specific projects that I work on. I work a lot with data collection and analysis — putting together data from various sources, such as Oracle. I then put the data into readable form, and from there, my team and I make analyses on what that data means for the company, the decisions we need to make, and where our problem areas are.

Kevin: These past couple months I’ve been involved in coming up with the monthly outlook crosswalk. Once a month, it is our job to come up with the overall financial story to see if and how we have deviated from our originally planned financials. It involves a lot of cross-walking and explaining how our financial performance has changed over the year.

What do you most enjoy about working on your team?

Taylor: Something I enjoy about my team is our ability to work together. Especially notable during the busy filing season, we are efficient in assigning tasks to each team member. Additionally, we make time once per week to discuss non-work topics and bond as a team.

Kevin: I think what I enjoy most from working on my team is the management style of our leader and how he approaches problems from a mentoring perspective. We have a good environment for the team to grow. We’re encouraged to take ownership in our daily tasks and duties and build on our leadership skills with the intent of running our own team someday.

What are your future career goals?

Taylor: I’m taking the Society of Actuary (SOA) exams, currently pursuing my Associateship in the Society of Actuaries (ASA), and after that I can become a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA). I am on track right now to strengthen my actuarial skillset, improve and contribute in every way I can.

Kevin: I’m looking to get my ASA credential, preferably this or next year. With my ultimate goal of becoming a Fellow within the Society of Actuaries. I only have one requirement left to complete my ASA credentials.

Kevin Tu headshot3
Kevin Tu

How has Blue Shield helped support your professional growth and development?

Taylor: The Actuarial Study Program is a huge help. It provides me with time and resources to study for and take the exams during my workday. Without this support, it would be much more difficult to prepare.

Outside the Actuarial Study Program, I would say there’s a culture of learning here. We have a Learning and Training sub-team, which helps us understand different parts of the company and various roles of other actuaries and non-actuaries, and how it all fits together. Beyond that, my team is always helping me learn new things. I am also a part of the Actuarial Recruiting sub-team with Joe Sabo, where I learn how to recruit for entry level roles in the actuarial profession.

Kevin: On top of providing support through the Actuarial Study Program, this is an environment that challenges me. The reasons why I enjoy working on my team extends to the broader organization. As an organization, we do well in constantly trying to help people take the next step.

What advice would you give someone whose goal is to become an actuary at Blue Shield?

Taylor: Just keep learning. There is never too much to know. I’ve never learned something, then said, ‘Wow, I regret learning that.’ It usually ends up coming up again at some point. For example, sometimes learning code feels pointless and meaningless, but then there are times when I get to use it, and I’m grateful to have a deep understanding of it.

Kevin: The most helpful piece of advice I can give is to challenge yourself and to not simply look at the numbers and calculations as they are but build a story around them. At the end of the day, that’s really the work of an actuary.

Do you have any advice for prospective candidates considering a role at Blue Shield?

Taylor: Have passion and never stop learning and being open to doing things differently.

Kevin: Find an environment where you can improve yourself while working for a company that aligns with your own aspirations and moral compass. It will make you more motivated knowing that you are working toward a greater cause.