Optimising Your Career

More than 40 enthusiastic members, including a high number of students, attended Jas Singh’s recent career-themed presentation to the Perth Actuarial community. Here, Jas outlines his key takeaways.

With the focus of the discussion being on the ‘optimisation of your career’, key items discussed at my session included:

  • Career Planning
  • How to transition from pure technical roles
  • Disruption in the workplace and opportunities for actuaries

Career Planning

perthyapIn my mind it is quite simple. If you don’t have a career plan then this equates to getting into a car and while you sort of know your destination, you don’t really have a navigation plan. This is likely to lead to erratic and knee jerk decisions which will potentially result in an unfulfilled life and career.
Having a plan on the other hand will ensure you focus on the right things and optimise the returns from your efforts and hard work. It will also help you better evaluate internal directions or opportunities which you find yourself in at work, or as suggested by your managers. This will help you to take calculated risks and evaluate different options objectively and clearly. Having a plan means you have thought about what you are trying to achieve. It does not mean you are focussed on only one way of achieving it, but in fact you are better placed to really assess your options and know when it is important to take a risk and move out of your comfort zone.
I am often asked about what time period in the future a plan should cover. There is no right or wrong answer to that but in my view you should look at least five years into the future and constantly review and evaluate the plan. Applying a simple control cycle approach (highlighted below) ensures you have a process for regular review, as the key thing is to constantly monitor your environment and to evaluate your career plans.


Transitioning from Pure Technical Roles

Many actuaries want to move out of purely technical roles into either general management, a business focused role, a sales/relationship management role or a combination of these.
To make a move of this nature requires careful planning, networking, awareness of the role requirements & opportunities. A focus on demonstrating a high level of EQ combined with your actuarial training can absolutely help you get there. It is fair to say that you will most likely need to take a calculated risk and move into a role which challenges you and develops different skills in you. This might be achieved by a move overseas or a move into a very different kind of job as a stepping stone to reach your final goal.
My advice would be to do your homework, be aware of what you are getting yourself into, develop a trusted network of advisers and be bold to take the necessary risks to achieve your goals. You only live once.

The future workplace – disruptions and opportunities for actuaries

The World Economic Forum released a report in January 2016 based on an extensive global survey of major organisations on the future of work. The report heralded the Fourth Industrial Revolution and noted that in the future the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago. The pace of change is set to accelerate and that 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
When considering the future workplace and roles which will be in most demand, two job types stand out:

  • Data analysts, and
  •  Specialised sales representatives (who can explain new and developing technology to customers)

I conclude that mathematical and analytical skills will be in high demand and when combined with strong communication skills even more valuable.

Actuaries who are prepared to move into new and developing areas are well placed to bring a strong skill base from which they can develop their career. To benefit, I recommend being open to new ideas, to be aware of what is happening externally in the market and prepared to take calculated risks.

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