Under the Spotlight – Asia Series – Ken Cheung

Ken Cheung, Deputy Head of South Asia at SCOR Global Life, tells of how the power of motivation has helped elevate his career to new heights in the latest Under the Spotlight profile.

Summarise yourself in one sentence…
I am a persistent and inquisitive problem solver, who is passionate about Health and Wellness.

My interesting/quirky hobbies…
Experimenting with new cooking gadgets that don’t take up too much space. My latest addition is a mini air fryer.

My favourite energetic pursuit…
A 10km run followed by a hike on a five-star trail.

What gets my goat…
A negative attitude, and throwing in the towel without giving your best shot.

I’d like to be brave enough to…
Camp in the wilderness with only basic survival tools.

In my life I’m planning to change…
My receding hairline with natural home remedies.

Not many people know this but I…
Survived a near death experience which led me to be passionate about Health and Wellness.

I became an actuary because…
I learnt of the actuarial profession from my career advisor in year 12. I had then done a bit of research and realised the entry requirements fit with my academic profiles. Furthermore, the supply and demand dynamic of the actuarial profession at that time made it look appealing.

Where I studied to become an actuary and qualifications obtained…
I had my undergraduate degrees on Bachelor of Commerce (Actuarial Science) and Applied Finance in Macquarie University, Sydney. I have then obtained my fellowship through the Institute of Actuaries of Australia.

I am most passionate about…
Going on a full day hiking trip with my family followed by a seafood buffet with durian ice-cream.

What I find most interesting about my current role…
The diversity ranging from technical inforce portfolio management, to relationship management with regional clients; health and medical portfolio development; operational efficiency; and financial planning and analysis. There is never a dull moment.

My role’s greatest challenges…
Juggling between competing priorities sourcing from internal and external clients.

My proudest career achievement to date is …
To step out of my comfort zone to take on a business role to build a diversified insurance portfolio along-side a team of dedicated and talented colleagues.

10 years from now, I will be …
Bald if my experiments on home remedies for hair loss didn’t work.

Who has been the biggest influence on my career (and why)…
Many managers and colleagues that I worked closely with have helped me to shape and mould my life principles. Over the past few years, I have been listening to motivational speeches in my routine 10km runs. One that resonated with me the most was from Denzel Washington. “To get something you never had, you need to do something you never did”.  It was this quote which awakened me and inspired me to battle through all my challenges.

Why I’m proud to be an actuary…
Because I am able to help making a difference by developing customised product and service propositions for my clients which, in turn, help protect the end consumers.

The most valuable skill an actuary can possess is …
Turning imagination into reality. 

If I were President of the Institute, one thing I would improve is…
To build a network that offers guidance and supports to those actuaries who are interested in entrepreneurship and are planning to establish their start-ups.At least once in their life, every actuary should…

At least once in their life, every actuary should…
Work in Asia.  You will enjoy the local culture and convenience of a weekend getaway. 

My best advice for younger actuaries…
Is to learn an Asian language and don’t be afraid to take risks professionally.

If I could travel back in time I would…
Make a trip to the Atlantis and check out what it was like, only if I am assured that I can make it back safe and sound.

When I retire, my legacy will be…
Hopefully, the talented team members whom I had the pleasure to nurture, mentor, and develop throughout my career journey.

My vision on Asia…
Is a place which will continue to experience significant economic growth; undergo digital and technological transformations; gradually standardize the regulatory and risk governance frameworks.

My view on cultural differences is…
To keep an open mind. Embrace and respect the unique elements arising from different cultures. Learning through social interactions.

What would you do or recommend to improve the collaboration with Australia?
Customise actuarial specialist exams to be more relevant for Asia actuaries.  Develop courses that are practical in the non-traditional fields, e.g. Data Analytics, Programming with Python / R, Entrepreneurship, etc. Facilitate the establishment of internship opportunities in Asia.      

What advice I would give actuaries planning on working in Asia…
Just do it! All experience is good experience. You only live once, so there is no need to over-analyse. 

Read more Under the Spotlight profiles.

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