Under the Spotlight – Asia Series – Weihao Choo

Head of Consulting at Munich Re and based in Singapore, Weihao is proud to be an actuary because they are trusted business managers and advisers.

Summarise yourself in one sentence…
Busy but always on the lookout for something new to learn.

Where I studied to become an actuary and qualifications obtained…
I did a double degree in Actuarial Studies and Statistics. I also have a PhD in Actuarial Studies. All from Macquarie University, Sydney.

What I find most interesting about my current role…
It is truly a mix of traditional and innovation. As I cover a wide geography, I could be helping a client in an emerging market to manage a traditional motor or property portfolio. And at the same time work with more advanced clients on digital products, artificial intelligence solutions and innovative business models.  

Who has been the biggest influence on my career (and why)…
My wife. After I finished my degree, one of my options was to do a PhD however my wife back then persuaded me to take on a commercial actuarial role. I ended up doing my PhD part time while working as an actuary. That was one of my best career decisions because I advanced both commercially and academically during the early part of my career.

Why I’m proud to be an actuary…
As a profession, we are seen as trusted business managers and advisors broadly covering the financial and insurance industry.

The most valuable skill an actuary can possess is …
To provide a holistic, rational and unbiased view of a business case or problem which is subject to complexity and uncertainty. This is a rare skill, and is often highly appreciated by stakeholders.

My best advice for younger actuaries…
Be brave, be different and take risks. This can mean taking on a non-traditional role, doing things differently in the same job, or even voicing your opinion. However be committed and resilient because there are bound to be challenges along the way.

Actuarial capabilities I use in my current job…
The usual – portfolio and financial analysis, pricing, modelling, risk management. The fundamental actuarial capabilities remain relevant, even as we pick on new topics such as data science and climate change.

How my skill set evolved over my career…
Initially it was the typical technical skills – reserving, pricing and capital. In my subsequent role, it became the business acumen, stakeholder communication and management. In my current role it’s about leadership skills, driving business decisions and of course the added responsibility around it!

What advice I would give actuaries planning on working in Asia…
Things are moving very fast in Asia, be it the market, technology or people. And often you are working across multiple geographies, languages and cultures, which makes your work even more challenging and interesting!

Hence have an open mind and move very quickly with the flow. This means picking up “non-actuarial” skills such as data science and building apps. Think innovatively beyond the “actuarial tool box”, and ask around for new perspectives and suggestions.

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