When and why did you choose an actuarial career?
I first saw a profile of an actuary in a business studies book at school. I was attracted to the occupation as I always had a natural aptitude for maths at school. While attending university for my first degree, I decided to apply for a summer internship at a large life office in Dublin. My application was successful and I enjoyed the experience to such an extent that I joined the company again for a summer internship two years later.
As I was interested in honing my research skills, I decided to do a PhD after the second internship. By the end of my studies I hadn’t changed my mind and I started to apply for trainee jobs while I was finishing my thesis.
Briefly explain what your work involves
Working as a Business Analyst in the company’s IT development department. My main role is to provide actuarial support to some of the specific projects in the division.
Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job?
Apart from the obvious analytical and numerical skills needed, it is essential to be a good communicator. My current job entails explaining complex ideas to developers and other business analysts who may not be specialists in the products we are developing. From other trainees and qualified actuaries it seems to me that this is a major responsibility for people working in all of the actuarial fields.
Also since the exams can be tough it helps if you are well organised and have a good work-life balance. I find that a thirst for learning new things can also be helpful in this area.
What do you like most about your job?
It is nice to be given a huge amount of responsibility on my first ‘proper job’. I also like being able to use the mathematical skills, which I feel I have been developing for most of my life, for an important professional purpose. It is a nice feeling when a colleague thanks you for a job well done. I also find the time spent with colleagues – both actuarial and non-actuarial to be very satisfying.
How do you achieve a work/life balance?
I have a pretty hectic social life that mainly involves sport and various forms of socialising with friends. I am a player for local football and rugby teams and living close to the Pentlands I find that I am fast becoming a keen hill walker. Of course I enjoy spending time at home with my girlfriend and our two cats.
For the short term I plan to learn as much as possible about the workings of my company and the products that it sells. In the medium to long term (although, hopefully not too long-term!), I hope to pass the exams and become a qualified actuary. After that I expect to keep up to date with the Profession’s CPD structures, so that I am up to date with actuarial knowledge. Apart from that I believe the actuarial profession has diversified beyond the traditional fields so much that it is almost impossible to know exactly where my career will end up in the long-term.
Any advice for others considering an actuarial career?
To realise that the actuarial profession has branched out way beyond its traditional areas of life and pensions while maintaining a strong influence in these areas. There are many challenges ahead for the profession in areas such as enterprise risk management and occupational pension schemes. The old stereotypes of an actuary as ‘a person who does complicated sums in the corner’ and being lofted upon a huge ivory tower are long gone. Modern and future actuaries need to be dynamic and versatile individuals to cope with the many demands now facing the profession.