Under the Spotlight: Jia Yi Tan

Jia Yi Tan is the Senior Manager, Pricing Master Trust, and currently seconded to the product and account management area of Industry Funds at CommInsure. She has always dreamt of becoming an actuary since she was fifteen and is passionate about making a positive difference to organisations, the community, life insurance industry and the world!


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Jia competing at the Australian Dragon Boat Championships in South Australia this year.

My interesting/quirky hobbies…Competitive dragon boat racing. I compete at state, national and recently international level.

My favourite energetic pursuit…Gymnastic training which involves pull-ups, push-ups, rings and bars. Love the intensity and the challenge to my physical limit.


The last book I read (and when)…The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho.

My favourite artist/album/film…Queen, inspired by a musical I watched recently, ‘We will rock you’.

The person I’d most like to cook for…I’m a fan of eating rather than cooking.

I’m most passionate about…sharing the goodness of actuaries and promoting equality (gender, racial, age).

What gets my goat…rude and dishonest people.

I’d like to be brave enough to…bungee jump.

Not many people know this but I…can’t pronounce “th”. So, I avoid some words like “team” = “theme”, “thor” = “thaw” in conversations and presentations. Unfortunately, I couldn’t avoid the word “three”=”tree” due to the nature of my work.

Four words that sum me up…passionate, family, kindness and ambitious.

If I hadn’t become an actuary, I would be… there has never been a plan B. I have always wanted to be an actuary since I was fifteen.

Why and how I became an actuary It started from a conversation I had with my dad when I was fifteen. When I asked my dad “I’m really good at Maths. What can I do with it?”, his response was “Actuary” which probably still is (and was) not a common profession in Malaysia with only a few qualified actuaries. I was immediately drawn to the unique combination of using my strength and doing something uncommon.

Where I studied to become an actuary and qualifications obtained… UNSW and Institute of Actuaries Australia. FIAA.

My work history…Close to 8 years of work experience in the life insurance industry. Started at APRA as a graduate in the Actuarial Services division, followed by MLC as a Consultant Actuary in the Valuation/Finance division and currently as a Senior Manager Pricing (group insurance) in the Life Pricing & Analytics division at CommInsure.

What I find most interesting about my current role… Managing and influencing a diverse set of internal and external stakeholders. When the perfect balance is struck and tension is resolved, it gives me a great satisfaction to see a better outcome for all parties.

My role’s greatest challenges…Time!

Who has been the biggest influence on my career (and why)… I am very fortunate to have worked with incredible and visionary people leaders, sponsors and mentors throughout my career. I have picked up different skills from all my influence. But my dad and husband have the biggest influence of all. They are my sounding board for advice and I am living by my dad’s motto every day “Do your best and leave the rest to God”.

My proudest career achievement to date is … made positive differences (small or big) and left a better legacy in every role I have been in. A special personal achievement of mine is being the top 10 finalist out of 200 women applicants in Australia for the Chief Executive Women – Learning to Lead scholarship.

10 years from now, I will be …hopefully healthy (physical and mind) and as a General Manager of a life insurance business with continued strong support from my husband and potentially a bigger family!

When I retire, my legacy will be…to have inspired and paved career paths for young people, women and people from different cultural backgrounds.

Why I’m proud to be an actuary…we are problem solvers and not just any problems but complex problems!

The most valuable skill an actuary can possess is …the ability to tell stories with numbers and influence decision making.

If I were President of the Institute, I would… extend the President’s term to allow more time to better execute longer term strategic initiatives.

My best advice for younger actuaries…be humble (listen and learn) and be inquisitive.

If I could travel back in time I would…change my fashion style when I was a teenager. I was wearing baggy clothes with terrible haircuts and bushy eye brows.

If I won the lottery, I would…spend on three things (1) family and myself (2) for a good cause and (3) reinvest, reinvest, reinvest!

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Jia Yi Tan is the Senior Manager Pricing at CommInsure. At the Actuaries Institute, she is part of three committees this year; President of the Young Actuaries Program Sydney, a committee member of the Life Insurance Wealth Management Practice Committee and leads the CPD sub-committee, and a committee member of the Financial Services Forum 2016 Organising Committee.


Contact Jia: jia.tan@cba.com.au


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