A lesson in “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” with Angelita Graham

Angelita Graham, FCIA former CIA Board member and 2020 Award of Excellence recipient, shares her thoughts on Board service and some encouraging words for those thinking about running in the 2022 election.

As the Toronto Office Leader for Mercer Canada, Angelita advocates for the empowerment and growth of her employees – attributes she has applied successfully in her various leadership roles at the CIA, including as a former Board member. Angelita has championed decisions that reinforce the Institute’s drive to be a leading actuarial body and hopes others will join her in doing the same.

It started with a call

“It all started with a call from Joe Nunes asking me to be part of the newly forming Continuing Education (CE) Committee. That was over 12 years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.”

Angelita maintains that volunteering with the CIA has been an unequalled opportunity, one she credits for her growth as an actuary and leadership professional.

“I wouldn’t have connected with as many people had it not been for my service as a CIA volunteer,” she says. “My experiences have allowed me to hone my management skills. But not only that, the level of support and community has been remarkable. It’s always been a space where I’ve felt connected and encouraged to evolve.”

A secret factor for success

Angelita’s achievements and eagerness to contribute were early indicators of her eventual rise to a position as Director on the CIA Board.

She has played an inextricable hand in executing some of the Institute’s biggest wins, from working to restructure the CE into what it is today to helping to transform the Practice Education Course to chairing the Human Resources, Finance, Audit and Risk Committee.

Recognizing the immense impact volunteering has had on her success, Angelita cites it as the number one reason she encourages others to get involved. She states, “You’re not only helping the organization grow but you’re getting back so much more at the same time.”

A balancing act

In 2017 Angelita stepped up to one of her most notable roles as CIA Board Director – a job that requires time, strategic thinking, and, above all, an ability to deliver.

Actuaries are busy and, for some, the idea of adding more to an already overflowing list of tasks can seem daunting. However, for Angelita, it has always been the opposite that rang true. When asked how she manages to stay on top of it all she quipped “They say ‘busy people get things done’ – when I don’t have enough to do the day seems too long.”

The self-proclaimed workaholic also has a realistic take on priorities and being deliberate in how you organize time. She concedes “Things aren’t always perfectly balanced and admitting that helps to take the pressure off.”

Getting involved

For those questioning whether they have what it takes, Angelita offers the sage advice of author Susan Jeffers, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Whether you are new to the CIA or a seasoned player in the game, each member can bring something unique to the table. Having used and experienced her own moments of self-doubt, she encourages those considering Board service to push forward and do the same.

“What I do and have done is not because I’m the bravest,” she humbly offers. “It’s because I felt the fear and did it anyway. It’s normal to question yourself, but don’t let that stop you from trying. Keep at it – you might be surprised at the outcome.”

Each election cycle is an opportunity for the CIA to welcome new voices and perspectives to the table. We want all members to feel empowered to stand for election, bringing their diversity of backgrounds, knowledge, and thought to the ballot. 

Learn how you can run in the 2022 CIA elections

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