Unique place to work
When moving to London I had not even considered working in government or even really heard of an actuary! However, I knew I wanted to do something analytical and be solving problems day-to-day.
In the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD), I saw a completely unique place to work within government and a potentially great place to learn new skills.
I also liked the idea of being a civil servant, giving meaning to my work and providing opportunities to easily move within government in the future.
My current role is within the Analytical Solutions team which has a mixture of analysts and actuaries. We tackle data processing, actuarial calculations and set up reproducible analytical pipelines to make our work more efficient.
I’m always solving problems and improving processes like manipulating data, building models or doing some kind of analysis through programming. I regularly use tools such as Excel, SAS and R, plus some specialist pieces of software for doing actuarial calculations.
My current work involves processing large datasets related to public sector pension schemes, some of which have millions of members. I perform calculations to determine how much they are going to cost in future. This is ultimately used by government to help budget sustainably for the future.
I have previously worked on data related to clinical negligence claims against the NHS, and on predicting the future cost of the National Insurance Fund. These affect almost all of us so are really interesting to work on.
You’re not expected to have masses of technical knowledge when you arrive – just an analytical mindset. I didn’t come from a mathematical or actuarial background but have been able to build my skills through training and on-the-job learning.
When people join GAD as analysts, they go through a range of induction training sessions on what GAD does, actuarial methods, using R and more.
GAD is building its data science skillset and expanding the work it does into less traditionally actuarial areas meaning there are always opportunities for analysts to develop.
As well as being an analyst at GAD, I am also an Office for National Statistics (ONS) data science graduate, meaning I have protected working time to get taught data science skills by the ONS.
This has been an amazing development opportunity and GAD is willing to support me so I can bring those expert skills back to my work.
I have also been on secondment – ‘loaned out’ – to another body within government for a period of time. There are lots of these opportunities and I would recommend the experience. It was great to experience a different part of government and I was able to develop new skills and create connections with other civil servants.
Life in GAD
There is a good work-life balance at GAD, with flexible working hours and the ability to use that built up time as holiday later.
I have colleagues in different part-time and hybrid working arrangements; something that the department seems willing to arrange depending on circumstance.
There are regular socials within teams and sports groups to get involved for anyone who wants to.
Meanwhile, the work we do is underpinned by professional actuarial standards which gives a real sense of professionalism, quality and expertise.
Advice for others
GAD is willing to be flexible to develop its employees. So, if you want to work on a project to learn something new, gain experience on secondment, or develop new skills – it’s up to you to be proactive and don’t be afraid to ask!