• Name: Hannah Rhodes-Patterson
  • Job Title: Trainee Actuary
  • Location: London
  • University: Durham
  • Degree: Natural Science
  • Fields of Work: Consultancy, Pensions

I am a Trainee Actuary at the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD). I studied Natural Science at Durham University before moving to London.

How did you get your job at GAD?

After graduating university, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I did know that I liked working with a variety of people and solving mathematical problems. It also didn’t take too long to work out that I oddly missed studying. Coming from a smaller town, I hadn’t heard of the actuarial profession before I started looking for jobs that would offer the opportunity to apply and develop my mathematical skills to real life problems. It seemed perfect, and I knew that I wanted to work in the public sector.

Tell us about your current role

I’m currently working in the Actuarial Services team, specifically the team working on all the calculations required for the different public sector pensions schemes. This is a great team to work for as a trainee as it provides good exposure to actual pensions calculations, alongside all the complications of working with real data and schemes. There is the opportunity to gain a wide variety of technical experience as the team utilises a range of software, such as SAS, Excel and Mantle.

Working at GAD involves a wide variety of work, due to the varying nature within and between teams. In previous teams I have had the opportunity to work directly with clients; for example, attending meetings, participating in and leading presentations. I have worked in both the Pensions Sector Pension Schemes and Insurance and Investment teams. This can be really invaluable as a trainee as it can help you to decide between the pathways in later exams.

Tell us about the study support

A key aspect of becoming an actuary is taking the required exams. GAD has supported my route to qualification through its study mentors, the generous study package and the workplace culture.

Having an assigned study mentor means there is always someone there to guide you and answer any questions you might have about the exams – which is particularly great when you are first starting out. It’s not just the study mentor that I have found to be helpful however; the supportive culture at GAD means colleagues and line managers are often on hand to provide helpful tips based on their own experience.

For each exam taken, GAD provides paid study days throughout the year in order to allow you to learn each course at your own pace. They also pay for study material, such as course notes, mock exam marking, and even in person tutorials.

Other than your day to day job, what is life at GAD like?

One of the best things about working at GAD (other than the work, obviously!) is that there is such variety in peoples’ extra-curricular interests, meaning there is something to suit almost everyone. There are regularly organised events for everything from football to dungeons and dragons to poker. And if what you fancy isn’t regularly organised you can probably find at least one person who wishes it was. My personal favourite is to make the most of GAD’s flexible lunch (up to 2.5 hours) to eat at one of the many great spots around London or to join colleagues for a drink after work – both of which are regularly organised.

Advice for others

Working at GAD provides a real opportunity to experience a great variety of work alongside a supportive study package. Whilst this variety might seem daunting at first, it makes GAD a great place to start out as you will really discover what you enjoy most.

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