The Associate Edition: The Actuarial Foodie

In the latest edition of the Associate Edition, we chat to Associate actuary and self-described foodie, Fiona Tsang as she shares her unintentional journey to pursue an actuarial career.

Beyond the job title, who are you? We want to know the person behind the Associate!

Fiona putting her cooking skills to test

Fiona: I would describe myself as a  “foodie” who cannot turn down the chance to try different cuisines. I love learning how different cultures use local ingredients and different cooking methods to create dishes that tell you the story of their community. My kitchen is my happy place and most likely where you’ll find me on weekends.

What motivated you to pursue an actuarial career? Please share a brief overview of your journey to becoming an Associate Actuary.

Fiona: It was quite an unintentional journey to pursue an actuarial career. I studied a Bachelor of Commerce and Science at Monash University. The actuarial faculty didn’t exist when I started!

After my first year, Monash established their actuarial faculty and, since I was majoring in mathematics for my Science degree, I thought an actuarial major for my Commerce degree made a lot of sense.

I was also involved with the Monash Actuarial Students Society and was able to learn a lot about what actuaries did through organising student events. 

What has been the most rewarding aspect of being an Associate?

Fiona: For me, the skills and knowledge from the curriculum has helped me develop the critical thinking required in making business decisions while understanding the importance of acting with integrity. This has helped me immensely throughout my career so far.

Fiona visiting Cambodia

How has being part of the Institute shaped your professional growth and future ambitions within the actuarial profession?

Fiona: Being an Associate has enabled me to take my career in several different directions — firstly from superannuation consulting to product management, and then to a different industry in a different country — health insurance in Hong Kong.

I believe that the Associate qualification represents a set of transferable skills that is recognised and valued by many employers.

What skills should Associates enhance to become more effective in your field of work? 

Fiona: Presentation and communication skills! I think we easily forget that not everyone has the technical actuarial training we have. It is critical for us to be able to communicate our recommendations to stakeholders in a way that helps them understand the financials and the risks of their decision.

In what ways have you seen the role of Associate actuaries evolve in response to changing industry trends, technological advancements or within the profession?

Fiona: In the early days of my career, the career pathways were very much focused on financial services. Now, I see so many more opportunities; climate change, cyber security and marketing, to name a few.

The Actuaries Institute has put in lots of work to promote Associate actuaries and I am glad this has led to new roles in different industries for us. I’m excited to see more Associates continuing to “break the mould” and increase our presence in different industries. 

In your experience, what are some challenges you’ve encountered as an Associate and how have you overcome them?

Fiona: Every once in a while, I ask myself, ‘Should I finish my Fellowship exams?’. It’s the million-dollar question!

What advice would you give to those who are contemplating qualifying as an Associate or continuing to study towards Fellowship?  Are there any lessons you would like to share?

Fiona: Tap into the network of actuaries you have access to through the Actuaries Institute.

As each Associate and Fellow has been on a slightly different journey, there is so much perspective to be gained by talking to different people at different points of their career. 

Would you like to share your story? We’re inviting passionate Associates to be part of our new interview series. Whether you’re a seasoned actuary or starting out, this is a golden opportunity to shine a spotlight on your professional journey and insights. Register your interest here. 

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