Skip to main content
Securian Financial Home

What does it mean to be you with us? Julia’s story

Actuarial Director, Valuation Center of Excellence

I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis in a family of entrepreneurs. My grandparents, father, in-laws and husband are all small-business owners. Being around those influences and this legacy of hard work has given me so much perspective on the importance of understanding my role in the overall business context.

Julia Rascher

At one time, I considered following entrepreneurship, and although I didn’t pursue it, the exposure to small businesses has given me the ability to understand and provide accurate predictability and risk evaluation which is a big part of my current job as an actuary.

My husband and I and our golden retriever live in St. Paul. Anecdotally, and even though the cities are adjoining, the move from Minneapolis to St. Paul— “crossing the river”—is seen as a cultural shift from the more transient environment of Minneapolis to the more suburban, old-school St. Paul. One location is not better than the other, simply different, so we’ve arrived!

A love for animals inspired me to declare veterinarian science as my first major when I began college at the University of St. Thomas – Minnesota. Most people aren’t aware that the study of veterinary science also includes the study of human anatomy and how animals and humans share biology. As it turned out, biology and chemistry were not my strengths. Finally, I came across actuarial science, a major at the University of St. Thomas, and found my niche in the combination of mathematics and business concentration the degree offered.

I attended an internship job fair at the University of Minnesota during my junior year of college and Securian Financial was the first booth I visited that day! At the time, I had never heard of Securian, but my mentor and the actuarial program director at St. Thomas thought I would be a good cultural fit. I interned between my junior and senior years, where I was given guidance, training and experience, making the decision to come to Securian Financial after graduation an easy one. The rest, as they say, is history!

I began my career as an actuarial analyst with Securian Financial in 2015. I have held several actuarial roles within Securian as well as a nontraditional role and all my experiences have helped give me additional perspective and business acumen. I am currently the Director of the Valuation Center of Excellence. In that capacity, I have six direct reports and 18 total members on my team. We examine liabilities to determine how much money Securian should have in reserve to cover our policies. We are responsible for creating the assumptions and understanding the methodology to develop those calculations. Those calculations then go into the overall financial picture for Securian Financial. Managing and preparing for risk and uncertainty is, at its crux, the role of an actuary. Historical events serve as a helpful source of information; however, risks to consider should include the unknown or unlikelier. Thus, having debates and conversations with many different actuaries at the table are essential components of how we manage risk.

It sounds cliché, but my favorite part about my job is the people. I feel quite fortunate to work with such an impressive team of people (both now and in prior roles) who deeply care about their work and those we serve. Getting the right people in the right place is an important part of my role. Helping the team find where they shine and matching that up to the company's business needs is an incredibly rewarding part of my job. Doing so can also be the most challenging aspect, as it means having honest conversations in pursuit of helping the team succeed.

Be who you are and be that well

Julia Rascher

We all have different strengths we bring to the table. I want to help others find their talents and use them to succeed in their career. As a servant leader, I embrace my team's strengths and help marry their skills and abilities with our business needs. My high school anchored on the quote, "Be who you are and be that well," and I still reference this quote frequently as I navigate my career. Bringing my essence to work means leaning into my strengths and trying to be the best version of myself.

I would advise a new Securian Financial associate to be curious, work hard and be coachable. I have always been curious to learn more about how the business operates in each role I've had. This curiosity has helped me learn beyond my job description and led to opportunities I may not have had otherwise. Doing your job, working hard and doing it well is essential to finding personal success and helping the Enterprise achieve our goals. At the end of the day, I want to be able to say that I did the best I could and feel proud of the work I've accomplished.

I think about being coachable from the sports perspective: A coach is there to provide feedback, tips, and areas of improvement for their athletes. The athletes' role is to take that feedback, understand what it means, and incorporate it into their routine. The coach and the athlete have the same intention—to help the athlete improve and succeed. The same goes for all of us. If your leader, peer, or teammate takes the time to provide you with feedback, take it as an invitation to reflect and modify your approach just as an athlete would.

I’m not currently involved in an Associate Resource Group (ARG). However, I have worked closely with many who are instrumental in our ARGs, and I've seen firsthand the impact ARG leaders and the ARGs have on our internal community. I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of an organization that values and invests in ARGs. As someone who has struggled with mental health issues several times throughout my life, I appreciate the support ARGs offer to our associates. There have been times when I felt alone experiencing challenging moments, like exams and other life circumstances. Everyone needs help at one time or another, and having someone to share with through our ARGS dispels that feeling of being alone.

Bringing my essence to work means leaning into my strengths and trying to be the best version of myself.

Julia Rascher

Promoting diversity at Securian

Julia Rascher

With regard to diversity, as a director, promoting diversity means recognizing that people bring unique perspectives, strengths and experiences from their diverse backgrounds, and hiring the right person for the right job should be based on many factors. I appreciate that Securian Financial has often provided me with opportunities despite my experience (or lack thereof). I've had several opportunities that, on paper, I'm not qualified for, however, my leaders have seen my potential, taken a risk on me, and provided the coaching needed to succeed in my role. For that, I will be forever grateful.

There have certainly been times throughout my career when I’ve noticed being the only woman in meetings or the discrepancy between the number of female and male actuaries. I am impressed with how many more female actuaries we have today than when I started nine years ago. I have also had the benefit of strong female and male leaders who empowered me, and I have a sense of confidence I found during my experience at an all-female high school. I want to be a resource and role model for future female actuaries and pay it forward for all the mentorship I have received along the way. I would say to a young woman who may be considering the field that you can change the future of the profession. Your participation in the actuarial field is needed to provide your experience and insights to further the profession. In terms of recruiting, companies must be intentional in their hiring practices to promote diversity and apply the same model of risk assessment that we utilize in actuarial science, that is, considering the individual from a holistic perspective.

For all the coaching and opportunities Securian has afforded me, I want to “pay it forward” and provide the same opportunities to others that have been afforded to me. Hopefully, my participation in “Be You With Us” will inspire current associates to explore every possibility and encourage male and female prospective employees to come aboard!

Like what you’re reading?

Get articles like this delivered directly to your inbox. 

Sign up

Be you. With us.

At Securian Financial, we want all our associates – current and future – to bring us their ideas, their passion and their most authentic selves.

Build your career here!

Julia Rascher is a Securian Financial employee and therefore has a financial connection to Securian Financial. Her statement was given freely.

DOFU 3-2024