Interview with Audrey Meganck, CEO of Detralytics
This month, we introduce you to Audrey Meganck, actuarial consultant, and CEO of Detralytics: a Belgian-French consulting and training firm focused on actuarial science, data science and risk management. And they’re on a roll! The company has doubled its turnover in one year and is now expanding internationally. Meet a woman with a multifaceted career, captain of an actuarial ship that she steers with a deft hand.
1. Hello Audrey, can you tell us about your career path?
During my thesis in Mathematics, Jean-Claude Debussche, then CEO of Mensura (BE) – Assubel at the time -, drew my attention to the actuarial profession. I then decided to leave the theoretical world of pure Mathematics to start something more applied. Jean-Claude is one of those people who played a major role in the development of my career. It is a blessing to have a mentor like him, always ready to advise you.
In parallel to my studies as an actuary, I was hired by Assubel-Accident du Travail (BE) as a Contract handler (in the Underwriting Department). This combination has helped me tremendously throughout my career. Understanding how an Underwriter assesses a risk, prices a risk, interacts with a broker, … These are aspects that you don’t learn in universities but are so important in the running of an insurance company.
Once I had my degree, I naturally evolved internally into a more technical position but still linked to underwriting, or rather its monitoring. This experience allowed me to continue my evolution in Risk Management which was emerging with the arrival of Solvency II.
When Allianz bought the business side of Mensura, I joined their Risk Management Department. Overseeing a broader scope, I was able to work on integration projects and broaden my technical knowledge by dealing with several business lines. I later joined Federale Insurance to pursue my development in Risk Management for two years.
Finally, after 10 years in the same field, I wanted to join a “first line” function again, and joined Belfius as P&C Technical Manager. Even if Risk Management is exciting and is, fortunately, becoming more and more integrated with the business, it remains a “control function” and I wanted to get closer to the world I had known when I started in the insurance world, i.e. business and underwriting. I have now been running Detralytics for 4 years.
2. Why did you choose to pursue your career in consulting? Were you attracted by the CEO position s?
This position allows me to discover multiple fields and companies. In addition, when your leadership is appreciated, it is satisfying.
However, the rise through the ranks of a company has never influenced my career choices. I even admit to being embarrassed when I am introduced as a CEO. It sounds very “imposing”… My career changes have never been calculated. Instead, I seized the opportunities that came my way when all my selection criteria were met: the challenge, the content, and the human aspect. I must admit that I never considered the consulting world before Detralytics.
3. What do you like most about Detralytics?
What is most important to me is to feel that I can bring real added value to a project or a team while remaining intellectually challenged. This is what I found at Detralytics. I also appreciate the diversity of my tasks, discovering new fields, meetings with insurance companies, the start-up aspect that allows me to write the history of the company almost from scratch and especially the human adventure. Indeed, Detralytics wants to offer a real springboard to young graduate actuaries through its TAP program (Talent Accelerator Program). Guiding them, advising them and, above all, seeing them evolve, gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
In addition to my job, I still consider myself an actuary and a mathematician. This position allows me to keep on making connections between academic developments and the technical-practical side by applying recent developments to a real problem. Seeing that these contributions bring value is extremely satisfying
4. Any advice for actuaries who want to develop their career as quickly as yours?
In my opinion, it is important to maintain an insatiable curiosity about your field. This is something that my other mentor, Jean-Marie Maes (ex-consultant at Mensura) taught me during my early years as an actuary. His curiosity and great interest in technical developments really impacted me. Finally, I would recommend everyone to get out of their comfort zone on a regular basis by taking on new challenges. Participating in training courses and working groups can also be very enriching in terms of content and contacts to broaden your horizons.
5. Company director, trainer, expert consultant, member of the board of the Belgian Institute of Actuaries …. You are on all fronts! Is it a choice?
It’s more than a choice, it’s a necessity. All these activities nourish me intellectually and humanely and are a real driving force for me. Currently, I could not only be satisfied with one role. As long as it works, I’ll continue!
6. An experience that has marked you the most during your career?
Looking back, it’s the encounters that stick in my mind the most. Not only the colleagues with whom I was able to evolve, but also the people I met at events, at institutes of actuaries or during training sessions.
7. According to Women in Finance, less than 30% of senior managers in finance are women. What advice would you give women to reach the highest positions?
Above all, don’t change, stay true to who you are! We hear far too often that women are less listen to than men because they don’t thump the table. A woman who does so is seen as arrogant, whereas a man is seen as a great leader. By pounding the table, you are heard but not always understood. Instead of believing that women have to do the same to stand out, I prefer to encourage women to bypass these kinds of stereotypes by shining through their skills, determination and peer recognition. Furthermore, I believe that in any community, diversity is essential.
8. As a woman, what kind of challenges did you have to overcome in your career?
As a woman, the challenge is often to balance career and personal life. It might sound cliché, but it’s the reality, especially when you want to start a family. My professional commitments deprive me of certain moments. Even though I am fortunate to have an amazing family who helps us a lot, I always feel guilty if I don’t spend enough time with my children.
And as an actuary?
As an actuary, my biggest challenge has been communicating with less technical profiles. Having to manage a relationship with salespersons at the beginning of my career taught me a lot on that level. When we talk about communication, we often focus on getting our message across , but deciphering the needs of the other is just as important
9. You have an international career to date, what are the most striking differences between the French and the Belgian markets?
I don’t see any significant differences, apart from the cultural differences that we already know about. I would say that the French market is much larger and therefore more closed than the Belgian one. In Belgium, everyone knows and follows each other. In France, everything moves very fast. You can quickly lose track. However, a larger network offers more opportunities to young start-ups like ours.
10. Do you have an anecdote to tell us?
During a meeting in France, I was asked to connect “the octopus”. I felt stupid because I didn’t know what it was. I had to ask the question 3 times and looked around for an octopus. In Belgium, we call it a spider.
11. A lesson learned during your career?
That the content of a job is very important but that the company culture and the people working with you matter just as much.
12. If you could change one thing about your job?
That’s a very good question… I don’t see anything. I love my job and I love talking about it.
13. Future projects?
To continue evolving with Detralytics and its consultants. I am also involved in activities outside the insurance world. I have always been interested in applying our actuarial models or techniques to other fields. I am currently helping a start-up in the field of debt collection to implement risk factor analysis to optimize debt management.
14. Let’s finish with our last signature question, the one we ask everyone to end an interview. Whether personal or professional: what would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?
To cross the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat, preferably with my dad.
Thank you Audrey for your time.
Do you have an atypical career? Do you know an actuary with a successful career? Send us a message at email@example.com. We would be delighted to conduct an interview together to share your experience with our networks.