Under the Spotlight – Gavin Pearce

Title… Chief Risk Officer

Organisation… Zurich Financial Services Australia Limited

Summarise yourself in one sentence… slightly more outgoing than most

My interesting/quirky hobbies… I don’t have much time for hobbies at the moment

My favourite energetic pursuit… chasing my three year old son around the playground

The sport I most like to watch… rugby (i.e. the All Blacks beating Australia)

The last book I read… I read How to Think Like a Freak last month

My favourite artist/album/film… I blame my Dad for being a bit of an Elvis fan

The person I’d most like to cook for… my parents, to say thanks for all they’ve done for me

I’m most passionate about… my family!

What gets my goat… rude and impatient people

I’d like to be brave enough to… tell those rude and impatient people to think about someone other than themselves

In my life I’m planning to change… the way I see the world and others

Not many people know this but I… in my teens I had long hair, an earring and rode a motorbike (I miss those university days!)

Four words that sum me up… integrity, trustworthy, outgoing, thoughtful

What I wanted to be when I grew up… I went through the usual progression of occupations – policeman, then pilot, then biometrician

Why and how I became an actuary… I was four and a half years through university and I went to an Employers’ Day presentation by an actuary from AMP. Being very fond of maths and having studied accounting and economics at high school I thought it sounded like a great profession to get in to

Where I studied to become an actuary… I completed a Masters degree in statistics at Waikato University in NZ. Then, as all NZ based actuaries do, I completed my entire actuarial qualification by correspondence through the Institute of Actuaries of Australia whilst working full- time. It only took me eight years!

My work history… I started in life insurance with Tower in Wellington in 1992. In 1999 I moved in to workers’ compensation, firstly with At Work Insurance and then ACC. In mid-2008 I moved to Sydney and worked for Allianz, Liberty International Underwriters and Deloitte prior to joining Zurich in June this year

What I find most interesting about my current role… the breadth of my CRO role. I have responsibility for the risk management functions of Zurich’s life insurance, general insurance, superannuation and investment management businesses

My role’s greatest challenges… as one of my CEO’s put it, I feel like I’m drinking from a fire hose. As with any new role and organisation, there is so much to learn – new people, processes, acronyms, etc.

Who has been the biggest influence on my career (and why)… first and foremost my parents, who have always been encouraging and supportive. My fourth form maths teacher, Stan Foster, was also a huge influence. He nurtured my interest in maths and also encouraged me to go to university

My proudest career achievement to date is… being offered the role of CRO at Zurich

10 years from now, I will be… still working for Zurich, not necessarily in the same role or country. Zurich is such a great company – the culture, people and leadership are outstanding

When I retire, my legacy will be… I’m struggling with this question as I don’t feel the need to be remembered for anything. I’d say my career, which will show that growing up in small town New Zealand is not a barrier to anything

Why I’m proud to be an actuary… because of the huge sphere of influence, level of insight and assistance I can provide to my company

The most valuable skill an actuary can possess is… pick any one or more interpersonal skill – relationship building, communication, ability to influence, conflict resolution, negotiation skills

At least once in their life, every actuary should… Work in a non-actuarial role

My best advice for younger actuaries… learn how to communicate

If I could travel back in time I would… not. Time travel does my head in

If I win the lottery, I would… retire immediately and spend more time with my family. I would also assist the Kids with Cancer Foundation with their fundraising efforts

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