• Name: Chalani Wickremasinghe
  • Job Title: Actuarial Graduate
  • Location: London
  • University: UCL
  • Degree: MSci Mathematics and Statistical Science

Why did you choose this profession and sector?

Whilst studying an integrated Master’s in Mathematics and Statistical Science, I wanted to work in a role where I could use my technical skills. I also wanted to learn how a business model works and what skills are needed to run a successful business. The actuarial career path seemed like a great fit for what I was looking for. As an actuary on the Hiscox Graduate Programme, I am currently completing three rotations in the Capital Management, Pricing and Reserving teams. My rotations give me the opportunity to get an in-depth insight into how the business operates, as well as sharpening up my technical skills.

Specialty insurance is a special industry. Being one of Lloyd’s largest syndicates, learning about the history and journey of the industry and Hiscox is always fascinating. There are so many kinds of products being insured, ones I never even thought of. This provides many exciting opportunities especially for actuaries involved in Pricing work.

A good work-life balance is one of the main reasons I chose to follow actuarial science in General Insurance. Of course, there are busier times at work, but in general, the hours are amazing. Especially during exams, I have felt so supported by my team and the firm.

How did you get your job at Hiscox?

During my penultimate year of university, I completed a summer Internship at Hiscox in Actuarial Analytics where I was able to develop my technical and soft skills. My work was challenging and stimulating, but also allowed space for being creative. I had the opportunity to network with many individuals around the company, giving me insight into other teams and roles which were of interest. So, I didn’t think twice when I was asked if I would be interested in applying for the Graduate Programme at the end of the Internship.

What skills are useful in this sector and profession?

As an Actuarial Analyst I use large data sets in extremely complicated models. It is essential to know how to organise your work in a clear and structured way, so that when you look back, or hand things over, it is easy to follow. Having an eye for detail is important so that you can spot any mistakes or notice key movements in data/analysis.

Having good interpersonal skills is so important in any career. Working in a team full of people from different backgrounds and experiences means that there will always be someone to help you when you are stuck, and there will always be someone out there for you to support when they need it. Putting in the time and effort to collaborate with your colleagues is always worthwhile, and really helps to make the team and firm in general thrive!

Being genuinely curious pushes you to ask the right questions and, therefore, fully understand your work rather than simply following instructions. As such you can develop your holistic learning experience, and ultimately be more creative and innovative.

What are your main duties?

In the Capital Management team one of my main duties was being the Lead Broker Credit Risk Modeller. It is a less material risk category compared to the other risks, so as a fresh graduate it was a great chance to showcase my skills and take on responsibility. Of course, I had all the support I needed from my graduate buddy and manager, but it was my responsibility to carry out the relevant meetings, send out data requests and gather required data, carry out any improvements to the modelling procedure and ensure all governance and documentation was completed thoroughly.

I was also leading a side project which required me to understand the modelling structure of our capital model. We use different ‘classes’ of the business to model and report on the firm’s capital. In this project I reduced the number of modelling ‘classes’ that are used for reporting purposes in our model, simplifying the output of the model and making it more relevant to the analysis that different business units require.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

During the Graduate Programme my main goal is to develop the breadth of my knowledge of the business and profession. This links with my long-term goal of holding leadership roles in the future.

In addition to this, I would like to develop my ability to convey technical analysis, extracting and interpreting the relevant output to others so they can understand and use this for key business decisions. Having studied Mathematics at A-Level and university, I have always been surrounded by peers who are quite technical so I had not considered how to translate a technical concept into a simpler idea that can be universally understood. However, knowing the importance of this particularly as an actuary, it is something I would like to develop.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to enter the profession?

The main advice I can give is to be proactive. As a young person entering the industry, one of the best things to do is to reach out to people and ask them questions about their journey, their roles, etc. If you don’t know where to start, start with LinkedIn. It will widen your network and allow you to explore what other options are out there. The more you explore the more confident you will be about choosing what’s right for you. Personally, I love getting to know other people and what they do because it keeps me inspired and pushes me to be more creative with my work.

One last thing that I have been living by recently, is not taking any opportunities for granted. Whether it’s a coffee chat or a final-stage interview, always try to show how much you care about what you do or want to do, by talking about your past experiences or any ideas that you have. It will show how passionate you are about your career, and it will only open more doors for you.

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