An Actuary Like Me – Naomi Edwards

I am proud to be an actuary because we possess amazing GABA rich brains that make us great at being honest with the data, changing our minds and developing complex models of the world. 

Naomi Edwards is a seasoned non-executive director who has served on a wide range of boards, both in and outside the financial services sector. In her executive career she worked as a life insurance actuary with a focus on Mergers and Acquisitions. In addition, she has worked in the wider fields of economic advisory work to the Australian Greens, conservation and forest economics. Currently sitting on the Board of TAL, Australia’s largest life insurer, she is also the 2023 President of the Actuaries Institute of Australia. 

What is the most valuable skill an actuary can possess?

Integrity and curiosity. 

What is your advice for younger/rising actuaries?

Expand your horizons. Work outside a traditional pathway, be that outside of the industry or a different role, say a claims assessor, inside the same industry. 

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

The most important skill for a non executive director is to be a fantastic listener and team player – you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room.  

Any other cities/countries you have worked in?

I’ve worked in Australia, New Zealand, and England, as well as lots of consulting roles in the Philippines and other Asian countries.  

What’s the most interesting trend for 2023?

The labour shortage in so many industries and how that will play out in the economy and with supply chains.

Naomi speaks at the ICA2023 Opening Ceremony

Where do you see the biggest growth opportunities for actuaries?

The interface between the coding that data scientists do and the needs of the business. 

What is your favourite random fact?

I used to be a stand-up comedian and had two sold out shows in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  

What is on your bucket list?

To achieve a tranquil and compassionate inner mind under all circumstances, but think that might be a long shot! 

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

As an interhuman being (part carbon, part silicon, part human, part robot), I think my profession would be tending the vegetable dome in an intergalactic space colony.  

What’s the phone app you use most?

The Guardian cryptic crossword App – I’ve taught myself to do cryptic crosswords over the last three years to help ward off dementia. Not sure if it will help with dementia prevention, but it has eaten up a whole lot of airport time! 

What do you do to recharge each day?

I travel a lot so often it is just a workout in the hotel room. But I have A LOT of holidays when I like to go into the wilderness and have a full “Alone” experience. 

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

I like doing extreme wilderness journeys with my partner – just the two of us in an untracked part of Australia’s wilderness. He is much tougher and stronger than me, so its really him doing the work and me going along for the ride but taking the credit.  

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