Convenor for the Queensland chapter of the Young Actuary Program and Member of the Young Actuaries Advisory Board Task Force, Ryan Starkey goes Under the Spotlight discussing the importance of young actuaries making a difference and how his career came to be.
Summarise yourself in one sentence… I am energetic, friendly and curious.
My interesting/quirky hobbies… I am a keen road cyclist and enjoy it because cycling is a great way to exercise, explore the outdoors and take a break from technology. My other quirk would be my passion to build a spreadsheet or code a program for the smallest problems just for fun. Although this may ring true with many actuaries.
My favourite energetic pursuit… Cycling long distances and walking around my local neighbourhood and Brisbane.
What gets my goat… Analysis paralysis.
I’d like to be brave enough to… Learn either piano or violin again as I believe this could be a great hobby to improve my wellbeing and switch off after work.
In my life I’m planning to change… Is to make sure I don’t sweat the small stuff and travel more
Not many people know this but I… Am a Star Wars aficionado.
Short description of career… After graduating from Bond University, I started my actuarial career in compulsory third party insurance at Suncorp. I then joined Quantium to experience consulting work and explore non-traditional practice areas. Outside of work, I volunteer on the Young Actuaries Program Committee in Queensland, the Queensland Actuarial Community Organising Committee, Young Actuaries Conference Committee and the Young Actuaries Advisory Board Task Force.
I became an actuary because… At university I was really appreciating the more technical commerce subjects and spending much of my time outside of class coding. The first time I heard about actuarial science was when my university began offering an actuarial science degree. I took a risk by quickly changing from commerce to into the unknown world of actuarial science. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Where I studied to become an actuary and qualifications obtained… I studied a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Actuarial Science at Bond University. Following this, I continued my study through the Actuaries Institute and Macquarie University. I recently qualified as an Associate and look forward to continuing my studies.
My proudest career achievement to date is… Winning a Hackathon competition at Suncorp with some old teammates. It was a proud moment for me because our team had such a great time re-uniting and solving the problem together, even though it was a competitive challenge. This experience affirmed for me that I really enjoy the work I do and the importance of working in a cohesive team.
Why I’m proud to be an actuary… I am proud to be an actuary because I firmly believe the profession is well-respected across the industries we work in. This encourages us as members to continually provide expert advice that is often highly sought after and valued by others.
The most valuable skill an actuary can possess is… I may be bias, but every actuary should learn to code, especially young actuaries. It has been an extremely useful skill in my career so far because it helps me find new solutions to complex problems and makes me challenge whether existing methods can be more efficient, sophisticated or reliable.
My best advice for younger actuaries… is to be brave and proactive in volunteering within the profession, such as joining task forces, working groups or the young actuaries program. As a young actuary, I volunteer to improve my professional skills and network with other actuaries. Some learning and development opportunities include planning events, presenting, contributing to research papers, participating on committees and boards, developing member strategies and networking with a diverse range of Institute members.
How did you get involved in the YAAB?
As a young actuary based in Brisbane, I found it challenging to connect with other local actuaries and engage with the profession. Even at university I had a very basic understanding of the Actuaries Institute and the importance of the actuarial profession. This encouraged me to volunteer in 2019 by joining the Queensland Actuarial Community Organising Committee (QACOC) and the Queensland Young Actuaries Program (YAP). Following this, Hoa Bui (2020 Actuaries Institute President) set an objective to improve young actuary engagement and established a Young Actuaries Advisory Board (YAAB) Task Force. I joined the Task Force with Tim Lam, Claire White and Joyce Wang to design the YAAB’s Terms of Reference, which outlines the Board’s mission, aims and structure. This was a great initiative as I was able to share my experiences and challenges in Brisbane as a young actuary, and contribute to the role of young actuaries in our profession.
What are the drivers for engaging more younger actuaries?
The 2019 Year in Review identified that 53% of the Institute’s members are younger than 35. This is a significant cohort that is not actively engaged with the profession. With the support from the Institute Council, the Task Force identified some key themes:
- Low young member engagement with the Institute and representation on committees, working groups, practice committees and Council
- Young members unaware what it means to be a part of a profession
- Limited collaborations between Young Actuary Programs (YAPs) and the Young Actuaries Conference (YAC)
- YAPs in each region working independently from each other until recently
- Lack of a single communication channel for young members to voice their feedback
What does the YAAB hope to achieve?
The YAAB aims to:
- Provide more targeted communications to young members
- Act as the voice of young members in the profession and advise Council on matters relating to young members
- Assist the Institute with education and CPD strategy
- Assist the Institute in promoting the actuarial career to potential new entrants
- Be a structured young member’s body to allow more collaboration between members across different regions
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