Irfan Chaudry is a manager at EY and in this latest Under the Spotlight, he shares his perspective on life and career so far, and how he hopes to grow as an actuary (and a painter) in the future. 

Summarise yourself in one sentence… Calm surface with a storm inside (of passion, dreams, struggles, hopes).

My interesting/quirky hobbies… Driving around and exploring new and interesting places and sometimes sitting there and painting.

What gets my goat… A lot of things but over time I have learnt (and still learning) how to manage emotions. Anger and love are two amazing emotions that if channelled properly can help you achieve great things and emotion management is one of the most important things to achieve excellence in most fields but is unfortunately the least taught. 

Short description of career… I have worked in different places in the last nine years. Started from working in a start-up software house in Pakistan, worked for Analytics team with Aon Singapore and Aon Japan and now part of GI Actuarial team of EY Australia. I have worked in insurance, reinsurance and banking areas where most of my roles required core business knowledge along with expertise in technology. I believe the intersection of different skills is a very powerful thing that helps you generate new ideas and design better solutions.

Where I studied to become an actuary and qualifications obtained… I did BSc (Actuarial) at the Australian National University and am one exam away to fully qualify as a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries – USA.

What I find most interesting about my current role… One of the major projects I am working on in my current role is analysing different motor accidents and claims and using them to help regulators implement different road safety measures and also improve the processes of insurers to serve claimants better. The whole idea of using analytics and our skills to help make difference to the community is very exciting and satisfying.

Why I’m proud to be an actuary… I still have one more exam to go and the pride comes from my persistence while taking these exams. Due to ups and downs in my life, it has taken me 15 years to reach this far in exams where I stopped taking the exams multiple times in between and kept coming back again. I value persistence and hard work over talent as the former is an absolute necessity to achieve any major success in life, while the latter, beyond a certain point, is nice to have but not compulsory.


The most valuable skill an actuary can possess is… The skill of not giving up. This skill comes through the rigorous examination process where one has to fail multiple times before achieving success and persistence becomes the key. I also feel this attribute is not utilised as much by actuaries outside of the exam context. I would like to see more actuaries creating start-ups, innovate or design solutions for non-traditional areas. Yes, it would be hard but that’s where we are better equipped than many with the skill of not giving up.

My best advice for younger actuaries… Be a little risk taker. By that I mean, continue pursuing whatever opportunity comes your way for a start but at the same time don’t be content with the routine and have only a dream of passing exams and becoming an actuary to become part of the daily chain of work. Every skill you learn, think about how you can apply it elsewhere, either to improve existing processes or in a different area. It might feel like a pointless waste of time when you are doing it with no immediate gains in the foreseeable future and especially when you are failing at it, but no experience is ever a waste and it will show its benefits in coming years. One of my favourite quotes from Oliver Wendell Holmes that motivates me in these situations is “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

Driving somewhere in the jungles of NSW

If I could travel back in time I would… Come back to where I am today because everything that has happened in the past has made me what I am today. I believe our lives are a well-scripted program where every failure, success, roadblock etc. happens for a reason to prepare us and make a better version of us for the future (if we are willing to learn). Having worked so hard to learn my lessons in the past and complete my journey until now, I don’t want to go back again and change anything, which would otherwise mean a new set of mistakes and lessons and stand here again thinking what I could change in past. I need these lessons for future which was life’s way of preparing me for new experiences.

How my skill set evolved over my career… When I started my career, I would focus more on learning the tools i.e. getting myself better with Excel, learning different programming languages and software (things like Python, Javascript, ReMetrica, Tableau, D3 etc). Then came a point where I realised that I needed to work more on my soft skills and become better at communication to reach the next level. Now I have reached a stage where I have many skills or at least basic knowledge of many skills or I can acquire basic knowledge quickly if I want, and the skill I need to work on more is how to get work done from others by motivating them while at the same time also thinking about new ideas on how we can innovate more with what we know.

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