Kirsten Flynn has just touched down in Alabama, USA to start a new secondment with her employer’s (TAL) sister company. This outgoing, country music-loving Project Actuary lets us in on some of her hopes, dreams and pet peeves.

 “I have not matched the level of exuberation I felt [when I qualified]”

What do you like doing when you’re not working?

I really like boxing. I actually box with some of my work colleagues which is really good fun. There’s nothing more satisfying sometimes than hitting your boss…

What gets your goat?

People who don’t sit in their assigned seats (e.g. in cinemas)! You either have to ask them to move (and then they think you’re being neurotic) or sit in another seat (and then worry that someone else is going to ask you to move). I just end up stressed out!

How has being an actuary affected your life?

Getting through your actuarial exams is hard but not impossible and someone once described it to me as survival of the fittest. Those people who become actuaries are not necessarily the smartest people, they’re the people who fail an exam, and get back up and do it again. Being an actuary has made me very resilient and that definitely extends to my personal life. And now it’s allowed me to move to the US and pursue my passion for country music and travelling around a lot more.

“I spend a lot of time trying to convince people that bearI’m not a nerd…people make this assumption that  I love science fiction… I’m like, I haaate science fiction”

You recently did ‘cultural training’ for your secondment, how was that?

TAL brought in a cultural coach to help prepare me for working in a different culture. I was surprised at just how different the work culture in the USA is to Australia! I’m going to have to watch my words a little, a word in Australia can mean something very different in the USA (e.g. thongs).

What are you looking forward to about working as an actuary in Alabama?

Professionally, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to try something different (I’ll be working in a product development role instead of my current financial reporting role) and see just how transferrable actuarial skills are! Personally, I’m looking forward to wearing my cowboy boots more often and trying waffles with fried chicken and maple syrup (an Alabama delicacy I’m told).



What was the last book you read?

A trashy teenage novel! I’ve had to downsize my book collection considerably in preparation for my move and had a few book series from my teenage years I never finished reading. I wanted to read these before I left (I’m about 75% there, the rest are coming with me).

What’s been your proudest moment as an actuary so far?

Inspiring others to become actuaries! I’m lucky enough to get speak at high schools and universities and I feel so proud when students come up to me afterwards to say that I’ve made them interested in becoming an actuary.

If you won the lottery what would you do with the money?

That depends on how much I won! Assuming I hit the jackpot, first would be a nice long holiday to the USA (to finish visiting all 50 states) and Europe (to visit my brother who lives in London). After that I’d try to do something financially responsible, like finish paying off my student loan, contributing to super and buying a house in Sydney (winning the lottery is the only way I’m going to be able to afford that)!

In an alternative universe, what career would you be in…

An Actuary. I actually can’t imagine being anything other than an Actuary (but I’ll definitely start thinking about this now….)



“The ‘aha’ moment when you solve a challenging problem, it could be something small like understanding why your model hasn’t run, when you solve that problem, that ‘aha’ moment is just fantastic”

Also by Kirsten Flynn:

9 things I learned after becoming an actuary

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Kirsten regularly contributes to Actuaries Digital, see all of her popular articles here.

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