Under the Spotlight – Jia Yi Tan (Councillor)

Actuaries Institute Councillor Jia Yi Tan goes Under the Spotlight, discussing how her career came to be, her past passion for competitive dragon boat racing, and her proudest career achievement to date.

My interesting/quirky hobbies…Was competitive dragon boat racing. I competed at state, national and international level.

Jia (front left) competing at the 2016 Australian Dragon Boat Championships in South Australia.

My favourite energetic pursuit…Was Gymnastic training, which involved pull-ups, push-ups, rings and bars. I loved the intensity and the challenge to my physical limit.

What gets my goat…Gender inequality and racial discrimination!

I’d like to be brave enough to…Bungee jump.

Not many people know this but I…Used to work as a claims assessor for almost a year while waiting for my permanent residency. It tested my communications skills in delivering difficult messages and dealing with complaints! This experience has increased my respect for our claims assessors and the importance of their role in our society.

Short description of career…Reflecting back on my last ten years in the life insurance industry, I have collected a colourful working experience by being in the right role and at the right time for all the key turning points in the industry. I have worked for eight organisations, performed ten roles and led teams ranging from a size of two to 25. I am currently the Head of Pricing and Propositions at iptiQ by Swiss Re, leading a multi-function team (pricing, product and underwriting) to innovate and design a bespoke customer-centric proposition, for some of Australia’s most trusted and well-known brands, using digital solution.

I became an actuary because…I wanted to be in a unique and in-demand profession.

Where I studied to become an actuary and qualifications obtained…I moved from Malaysia to Australia to pursue my Actuarial Studies degree at UNSW, Sydney and then obtained my Fellow qualifications with the Actuaries Institute Australia.

My proudest career achievement to date is…Launching CBA Home Loan Compassionate Care. I had the privilege to lead an amazing project team across all functions to design and deliver, a first for Australia, a limited-time complimentary life insurance protection for homeowners, their spouse and dependants.

Who has been the biggest influence on my career (and why)…I am very fortunate to have worked with incredible and visionary people leaders, sponsors and mentors throughout my career. I have picked up different skills from all my influence. But my dad and husband have the biggest influence of all. They are my sounding board for advice and I am living by my dad’s motto every day, “Do your best and leave the rest to God”. This motto has taught me to strive for the best and focus in matters within my control.

Why I’m proud to be an actuary…We are problem solvers, and not just any problems, but complex problems!

The most valuable skill an actuary can possess is …The ability to tell stories with numbers and influence decision making.

At least once in their life, every actuary should…Explore a non-actuarial role or a wider field role. It helps to broaden viewpoints, skill sets and tackle a problem holistically.

If I could travel back in time I would…Not change a single thing!

When I retire, my legacy will be…Leaving the life insurance industry, our profession and our society culture in a better and even stronger place.

One of the most creative applications of actuarial capabilities that I have used in my career…Using my judgement and analytical mindset to problem solve other fields.

The most interesting or valuable job or project I have worked on in my career and why…I am currently embarking on an exciting role and looking forward in seeing where it will take me. Looking back, it would be my leadership project role in designing and launching CBA Home Loan Compassionate Care.

How my skill set evolved over my career…I had an interesting start where I learnt high level oversight/governance skills first, to technical actuarial skills, and to decision making, stakeholder engagement and influencing skills.

The advice I would give aspiring actuaries to be able to do my job…Broaden your perspective, try different things and keep challenging yourself.

My view about the future of the Actuarial profession – in 10 years?…I truly believe that our profession will continue to be highly regarded by society in the next 10 years and more. Our profession will expand to the wider fields and members will be equipped with the right education and tools from the Actuaries Institute. Our profession will be a trusted advisor to regulators, politicians, industries and society as we become a compelling story teller using data and judgement.

If I were President of the Institute, one thing I would improve is…Further increase our membership and members’ engagement. I would love to see a strong growth trend and an ambitious 100% engagement rate!

My best advice for younger actuaries…Be humble (listen and learn) and be inquisitive.

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