Degree: 2.1, Engineering, Economics and Management, Oxford University
Year of graduation: 2005
Occupation: Actuarial analyst at Towers Perrin – within the life and financial services unit
What do you do in your job?
Actuarial work involves using mathematical skills in a business world. The aim is financial risk management for the future. Generally, you decide whether you want to work in pensions, investment or insurance. If, like me, you choose insurance, you decide whether you want to work for an insurance company or a consultancy. I chose the latter because of the variety. I work on lots of projects with lots of insurance companies. A typical project might involve mergers and acquisitions, where I would assist in valuing the company, working for either a buyer or a seller. It’s a lot more difficult to work the value of an insurance company than a normal company, because of all the emerging liabilities in the future. So that’s where the actuarial expertise comes in.
What was your motivation in applying?
Some friends had gone into actuarial work and it sounded interesting, particularly being able to combine maths and business. I also liked the idea of studying towards a qualification. I applied to about six companies and had assessment days at most of them. Towers Perrin seemed the most engaging, and I liked the fact that it encouraged you to complete the actuarial exams as quickly as possible.
What did the application process involve?
I completed an online application form, and then had a first-round interview with someone from HR. I then got invited to its assessment day, which involved company presentations, exercises, interviews and lunch. I was called that evening and offered a job.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The variety, and using what I’m learning in the exams in my actual work. That’s particularly rewarding, because you see a vast improvement from when you started. I like working with like-minded people too.
Most challenging part of your job?
Managing my time. You get one study day a week on average, but fitting that around a busy four-day working week is hard.
Any qualifications involved?
I’m doing the Institute of Actuaries qualification, which involves around 15 exams in total. It can take anywhere between three and seven years to complete. The first eight or nine are core technical exams, which are quite maths-oriented. You then go on to do more wordy exams, tailored to the area you’re working in. The exams get harder and harder.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
Do as much research as possible so you know what you’re letting yourself in for. Talk to people doing the job, and think about why you want to go into it. They’ll ask you that at interviews.