An Actuary Like Me – Mark Samuels

I am proud to be an actuary because we make a difference in society. 

Mark Samuels is Principal, Consulting Actuary at Mercer, and Board Chair of the Young Actuaries Advisory. Mark believes that actuaries play a significant part in shaping the society we live in, whether through providing insurance for people in their time of need or creating better retirement outcomes. 

Why are you proud to be an actuary?

I am proud to be an actuary because we make a difference in society.

What is the most valuable skill an actuary can possess?

Being inquisitive and not just accepting a methodology or solution because “it was done that way before”. There will always be new, more effective and efficient ways of solving the same problem and, as actuaries, we should be looking to figure out what those are. That way we can drive creativity and progress in what we do. 

What is your advice for younger/rising actuaries?

Do not be afraid to take a risk early in your career. I moved from Scotland to Australia with no job waiting for me because I wanted to experience a different lifestyle. I can say it was a fantastic decision, although scary at times, when I struggled in the first few months to find a job. 

What’s something an outsider wouldn’t know about your industry? 

I asked my fiancée this question, as an outsider to the actuarial industry, and she said how much actuaries do as thought leaders to help society. Yes, I know what you are thinking, she probably hears too much from me about how amazing actuaries are! 

Any other cities/countries you have worked in?

Having been born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, I spent the first six years of my career working there before moving to Melbourne, Australia in 2016. 

Mark at ICA2023 in Sydney

What’s the most interesting trend for 2023?

The increase in the number of people travelling (expected post COVID lockdowns), but also having the ability to extend their holidays longer than expected because working from all over the world has become more normal. 

Where do you see the biggest growth opportunities for actuaries?

It’s hard to look beyond the opportunities in the data science space as it is exponentially growing. As actuaries, we definitely have the skills and capabilities to get involved and put our stamp on this developing market. 

What is your favourite random fact?

The unicorn is the national animal of Scotland! Along with the Loch Ness monster, we (the Scots) seem to have a thing for mythical creatures. 

What is on your bucket list?

I want to run a marathon on every continent of the world. To date, I have Europe, Australia and North America ticked off, and plan to do an Asian marathon (Tokyo or Seoul) in 2024.

If you lived 500 years in the future, what do you think your profession would be?

The need to understand risk will still exist 500 years in the future, so there is no reason why actuaries will not be needed and play a significant part in society. However, I do not think I would be one. I have always been fascinated by space, so I suspect I would be travelling the universe on a Guardians of the Galaxy-style adventure (yes, I want to be Starlord). 

What’s the phone app you use most?

This would be the Apple Podcasts app. I enjoy listening to a podcast when I am running, commuting to and from work or doing chores at home. 

What do you do to recharge each day?

Not something I do every day, but I regularly de-stress by going out for a run. It allows me to switch off, free my mind and enjoy the outdoors. It also helps me subconsciously solve work and life problems, with some of my best ideas originating during my runs. 

What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

Apart from running, I also play football (or soccer, depending on where you are from) and am a foodie. Both of these hobbies complement each other nicely, which helps me not put on too much weight! 

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