Under the Spotlight with Sidd Gandhi

With a deep interest in data science and a solid actuarial foundation, Sidd Gandhi shares how his transition through a revamped education curriculum helped hone his skills and drive impactful societal outcomes.

For those who don’t know you, could you share a bit about yourself and your professional background?

Currently, I work as an Actuary at the Australian Government Actuary and have I previously worked across Actuarial Consulting and General Insurance Pricing. I would love to explore the field of data science given the availability of large volumes of data across so many domains.

Outside of work, I love spending time with family and friends, exploring nature and remaining physically active. In particular, I love hiking, trekking and running.

You began your education journey under the old education curriculum and have recently graduated under the new curriculum. How has the transition impacted your learning experience? Are there specific areas where you’ve noticed significant improvements?

The new education program has substantial governance in place and has moved away from relying on volunteers.

Now, dedicated teachers run weekly tutorials based on improved subject material, which in turn is more aligned with the course content. This results in students being better prepared for exams.

What subjects did you study during your time as a student at the Institute? How did they prepare you for the actuarial profession?

I completed all the mandatory subjects under the Foundation and the Actuary program. For the Fellowship program, I completed Enterprise Risk Management, General Insurance and Health Valuation, and Data Science Applications. The actuarial pathway not only enhanced my quantitative skills but also taught me to analyse more holistically.

The Education Program is taught online using our Canvas Learning Management System. Did the resources in Canvas help you learn?

I found the resources available on Canvas very helpful. The very detailed assignment rubric leaves no ambiguity in terms of what is expected of students to score highly. A clear description of each command verb on Canvas allowed me to understand exactly what and how much I needed to write to do well in exams.

This meant I could focus more on the content rather than being lost in making decisions during exams about what and how much to write. Further, the weekly tutorials provides students with an insight into the type of questions that could possibly appear in the exam, translating into significantly better exam preparation.

As a student who has experienced the program firsthand, what improvements or enhancements would you suggest to further strengthen the program and support the success of future students?

I believe that the education program could be further strengthened by the reintroduction of commercial actuarial practice (CAP) within the Fellowship program.

As I took the Data Science Application course, I didn’t have the opportunity to complete CAP. I genuinely believe CAP would help several students – myself included – enhance their actuarial judgement and consider a range of factors before making recommendations to a client or business. This may be an unpopular suggestion as I don’t think many students would like the idea of an eight-hour exam!

How has the education program prepared you for your career thus far? Where do you hope to take your actuarial skills in the future – do you have any particular career goals or roles in mind?

As I mentioned earlier, the Institute’s education system taught me to analyse things more holistically, and the Fellowship exams made me humble and more resilient.

While I do not have a particular role in mind, I would love to be involved in using data to deliver actionable and valuable insights that improve people’s wellbeing and societal outcomes.

What advice would you give to aspiring students?

Do not give up on your dreams or goals! While studying for my Fellowship exams (formally known as Part III exams), I failed the general insurance subjects six times in a row.

As long as you’re trying and learning from each failure, you’re moving forward, and it is simply a matter of time before you reach your goal. Keep persevering!

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