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  • Name: Robert Williamson
  • Job Title: Senior Trainee Actuary
  • Location: London
  • University: Durham
  • Degree: Mathematics
  • Fields of Work: Pensions

I am currently an actuary at the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD). I studied mathematics at Durham University before becoming a data analyst at The Health Foundation, a charity where my role involved the analysis of large healthcare datasets in order to write academic papers.

How did you get your job at GAD?

While I enjoyed my time as a data analyst, I was interested in doing work that was less academic while still doing a job I could feel good about.

I had always been interested in the actuarial profession. This was largely due to my interest in the practical applications of statistics (and because it would mean I could one-up my brother who is an accountant!). I was also keen to join an organisation with a graduate scheme which would provide me with necessary training and support. When I saw a role available at GAD it seemed a perfect fit.

Tell us about your current role

I am currently working in the Specialist Actuarial team, specifically the team advising HM Treasury on public sector pensions.

This is a great team to work in as it is a very active policy area which involves a lot of complex calculation work as well as high level strategy. A key area of work is the McCloud court case, which has significant implications for all public sector pension schemes (including the one I am in!).

I have gained a wide variety of experience working at GAD. This can be very technical, for example carrying out complex statistical analysis in Excel, R and SAS. But I have also been exposed to the other side of decision making, such as developing policy papers and regularly meeting with clients.

Additionally, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go on a 9-month secondment to the Department of Health and Social Care, working on professional indemnity for General Practitioners.

Working at GAD has developed my skills in a number of areas. Importantly, it has helped to develop my softer skills. From presenting complex technical analysis to stakeholders, to discussing policy with other government departments, GAD has provided me with opportunities to take on challenging and interesting work.

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 mentor scheme, the generous study package and the workplace culture.

On joining GAD I was assigned a study mentor, who explained the actuarial exams to me and helped me to figure out my study route and get comfortable with self-study. They have supported me throughout my time at GAD, and are always available to provide advice when needed.

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.

Given the dynamic and interesting work done at GAD, you might think that work would sometimes get in the way of study. However, I have found that there is a supportive and understanding culture at GAD which means that trainees are encouraged to not allow work to stop them succeeding.

These factors have all supported me throughout my examinations, and this has majorly contributed to my success so far.

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

Beyond the work, GAD is a great place to work due to the people and activities. We have a number of active clubs, from football to dungeons and dragons. And when you don’t feel like organised fun, people regularly meet up for lunch or after work drinks.

Advice for others

GAD is a great place for any aspiring actuary. While studying and working isn’t for everyone, it provides a great way of growing and developing your skills quickly, and GAD will support you throughout.

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