Sound actuarial pricing can be a cornerstone for revenue, earnings growth and, by creating financial models and forming equitable rates, expansion into new markets. Alice Gannon, who's been with USAA for 37 years, currently as chief actuary, SVP, has been a big part of the company's success in all three areas. Gannon's required to stay up to date on catastrophe risks, competitive pricing, the volatile economy and changing regulations. To deal with all of these factors, Gannon has forged a technological trail for USAA.

"Data is the lifeblood of an actuary," Gannon says. "The actuarial role has become increasingly important over the decades because you can replace a lot of the gut-feel underwriting of 60, 70 years ago now with good, hard analytical data," she says. "Writing millions of policies and settling hundreds of thousands of claims - we have to take all of that data and roll it up to enable good business decision-making."

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