Under the Spotlight: Tyson Johnston

Read­ing time: 5 mins

Tyson John­ston, Direc­tor of Busi­ness Devel­op­ment and Strat­e­gy at Pacif­ic Life Re, is a hard­work­ing and moti­vat­ed actu­ary – whether it be in the office, on the bike or in the gym. Here, Tyson goes Under the Spot­light to share his per­son­al pas­sions and wis­dom as an actu­ary.

My interesting/quirky hob­bies… My Fiancée and I have a rock col­lec­tion and we try to col­lect a new one each time we trav­el to a new loca­tion over­seas. We don’t have many rocks at the moment!

My favourite ener­getic pur­suit… There are many – I’m a bit of a fit­ness freak. I’m a keen cyclist and, time per­mit­ting, I still try keep up my Cross­fit. I had a past life as a keen rug­by play­er, before I dis­cov­ered I wasn’t made for it (two shoul­der recon­struc­tions and a knee recon­struc­tions lat­er….)


Cross­fit fun


The sport I most like to watch… I much pre­fer par­tic­i­pat­ing in sport than watch­ing, but I would say my favourite sport to watch is rug­by union. Go the Brumbies.

The last book I read (and when)… One of my New Year’s res­o­lu­tions last year was to read a book a month in 2016. I enjoyed it so much I’ve con­tin­ued the goal this year. The book I’ve just fin­ished was a tril­o­gy called The First Law Tril­o­gy by Joe Aber­crom­bie. I’d prob­a­bly give it a 610 – it was a big time invest­ment for an OK end­ing. Pri­or to that I read the Mist­born Tril­o­gy – anoth­er big invest­ment but this one was well worth it – prob­a­bly the best series I’ve read. I’m in need of a break from fan­ta­sy and have moved on to read­ing the Steve Jobs biog­ra­phy and am enjoy­ing that so far. 

My favourite artist/album/film… This is a tough ques­tion. I’m a big fan of good tele­vi­sion shows like Game of Thrones, Break­ing Bad, etc, but I’m also a big fan of sto­ry based games (I’ll let you decide if they should be clas­si­fied as art). At the moment I’m enjoy­ing Ed Sheeran’s lat­est album (Divide) and I’m a big fan of Guy Sebastian’s recent music… I’ve even been known to lis­ten to the odd Justin Bieber song.

The per­son I’d most like to cook for… My Fiancée, Emma. I don’t do it enough! I keep say­ing I would like to be a bet­ter chef, but I’ve not man­aged to get to it yet. I do make a mean por­ridge though.

At Vivid

I’m most pas­sion­ate about… With­out a doubt, fam­i­ly and friends. Enjoy­ing their com­pa­ny out­side in the sun is a bonus.

What gets my goat… Lit­ter­ing – par­tic­u­lar­ly cig­a­rette butts. And when peo­ple don’t stand on the left side of the esca­la­tor…

I’d like to be brave enough to… Bungee jump. Emma and I went sky div­ing in Queen­stown in 2015 and it was amaz­ing but we ‘ran out of time’ to bungee jump. Hope­ful­ly I’ll get the chance to do it soon.

Not many peo­ple know this but I… When I was a teenag­er I real­ly liked the TV show Nip Tuck – so much so that I seri­ous­ly con­sid­ered becom­ing a plas­tic sur­geon….. but only for a few months.

Four words that sum me up… Dis­ci­plined, ambi­tious, curi­ous, method­i­cal

If I hadn’t become an actu­ary, I would be… A pilot in the Air­force. As a child I always want­ed to fly fight­er jets and break the speed of sound.

Why and how I became an actu­ary… A guest pre­sen­ter at school told my math­e­mat­ics class becom­ing an actu­ary would be very dif­fi­cult….. Chal­lenge accept­ed…. They were right! I always liked solv­ing com­plex prob­lems and it seemed like a log­i­cal choice.

Where I stud­ied to become an actu­ary and qual­i­fi­ca­tions obtained… I stud­ied a com­bined degree in Actu­ar­i­al Stud­ies and Applied Finance at the ANU where I obtained my Part I exemp­tions. I then moved to Syd­ney to start work­ing and com­plet­ed my Part II exemp­tions through UNSW. I stud­ied Part III’s through the Actu­ar­ies Insti­tute of Aus­tralia.

My work his­to­ry… I’ve recent­ly joined Pacif­ic Life Re in a mar­ket­ing actu­ary role where my main respon­si­bil­i­ties are busi­ness devel­op­ment and strat­e­gy, with a par­tic­u­lar focus on Group insur­ance. Before join­ing Pacif­ic Life Re I worked at EY as a con­sult­ing actu­ary in the life insur­ance space. Pri­or to that I spent some time at Mac­quar­ie Bank as an intern in the For­eign Exchange divi­sion and worked with the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics part time while I com­plet­ed my stud­ies.

What I find most inter­est­ing about my cur­rent role… Hav­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work with tal­ent­ed peo­ple and to help shape the direc­tion of a rel­a­tive­ly new rein­sur­er in the Aus­tralian mar­ket.

My role’s great­est chal­lenges… Get­ting com­fort­able with being out­side my com­fort zone will be impor­tant for me. I expect there will be a lot of chal­lenges in my role as we work to estab­lish our brand and pres­ence in the mar­ket.

Who has been the biggest influ­ence on my career (and why)… I’ve been lucky to have a num­ber of great man­agers who have invest­ed a lot of time and ener­gy into my devel­op­ment (whether they know it or not!) and this has had a great influ­ence on me. I would also say my father, Stephen, has had a big influ­ence on my career to date. I guess I should prob­a­bly tell him that….

My proud­est career achieve­ment to date is … I still can’t go past the feel­ing of pass­ing my first and last actu­ar­i­al exams. Apart from that, I’m proud to have been part of a num­ber of teams work­ing on chal­leng­ing projects with tight dead­lines that have been deliv­ered to a high stan­dard.

10 years from now, I will be … 10 years old­er and hope­ful­ly 15 years wis­er…. I hope to have spent some time see­ing the world and be mar­ried to the girl of my dreams (and the lat­ter is locked in to hap­pen in May this year!).

Pey­to Lake, Cana­da


When I retire, my lega­cy will be… Hope­ful­ly it will be the peo­ple I’ve worked with and devel­oped along the way.

Why I’m proud to be an actu­ary… It’s a chal­leng­ing jour­ney to sat­is­fy the require­ments to become an actu­ary. That in itself is worth being proud of. But main­ly I’m proud because we have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have a pos­i­tive impact on con­sumers through our enabling of insur­ance.

The most valu­able skill an actu­ary can pos­sess is … Being able to com­mu­ni­cate the com­plex­i­ty behind the num­bers to have a mean­ing­ful impact on the busi­ness

If I were Pres­i­dent of the Insti­tute, one thing I would improve is… Soft skill train­ing offered by the insti­tute. This has been an area of focus for the insti­tute recent­ly. I would make sure that con­tin­ued.

At least once in their life, every actu­ary should… I think every actu­ary should make an effort to get out of their com­fort zone and to try some­thing dif­fer­ent. And all actu­ar­ies shouldn’t for­get that we can offer so much more to the busi­ness beyond the num­bers. I also think every­one should mark an actu­ar­i­al exam. It’s good to see how the process works from the oth­er side.

My best advice for younger actu­ar­ies… This makes me feel old. My best advice would prob­a­bly be my answer to the above ques­tion. That, and to ask lots of ques­tions and be hap­py to con­tin­ue to absorb infor­ma­tion for many years. 

If I could trav­el back in time I would… I want to say I’d do some­thing mean­ing­ful here, but I’d prob­a­bly go back to my under 14 rug­by union grand final when I threw an inter­cept pass to lose the game. It still haunts me.

If I won the lot­tery, I would… Do a lot of trav­el­ling and then set­tle down to a career in (my) port­fo­lio management…but I don’t buy lot­tery tick­ets.

Hik­ing the Three Capes Track


Con­tact Tyson: Tyson.Johnston@pacificlifere.com

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About the author

Tyson Johnston

Tyson Johnston is a Director of Business Development and Strategy in the Pacific Life Re Marketing Team. He is a passionate actuary who also enjoys travelling, good food, good action movies, and the occasional board game.

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