Job Title:  Head Actuarial Analysis at Sanlam

Job Description:

My role is to critically evaluate, discuss and debate the actuarial methodologies followed to date, to suggest improvements and to translate these for business. In short, my role can be seen as a liaison role between technical actuarial and business strategy.

Qualifications needed: Qualified actuary with both actuarial and practical business experience.

How did you get into your line of work?

At school, I excelled at maths and science, and enjoyed numbers and problem solving. There were only two female actuaries in South Africa at the time. The prospect of being one of the few female professionals with an internationally recognised qualification and a very attractive salary helped sway my decision! 

Early on, I decided to strike a balance in my career choices between being a technical actuary and a business actuary.  So I moved around in the company gaining experience across many business areas.

What's the first thing you do when you get into the office?

I have a 30 minute “getting up to date” period every morning – this includes checking my e-mails and calendar. I like to stay informed about new developments in my company, in South Africa and internationally. 

To do my job, you have to love…

If you are involved in mostly technical actuarial work, you really need to love maths, stats and all things analytical!

I spend most of my day…

My day is really focused on two things:

1.    Interacting with people across all the business units, keeping them informed and aware of the developments in Actuarial and also getting an understanding of the requirements they might have from Actuarial.

2.    Analysing, investigating, researching and debating the relevant topics that needs attention.

What is the worst aspect of your job?

You can end up spending a major part of your day reading reports and working through discussion and consultation papers.  I am not very good at sitting in one spot doing the same thing for too long, so sometimes this can get to me.

What is the best thing about your job?
It is a top earning profession with many different applications in the Financial Services industry and given the skills and experience you have, once qualified, actuaries are often also sought after for top management positions. It’s always challenging and exciting and on the forefront of new developments in the industry.

The next job up from yours is…

An Executive Committee position in my company.

What's the one thing no-one knows about your job?
That actuaries don’t only care about numbers, in fact it’s about looking after the interests of clients. We are not the traditional introverts who hide deep in company back offices – we work in many non-traditional fields like Sales, PR and even Marketing!

There still is a lot of room for females in this profession:

Fellows, active, RSA:
145 women out of total 779.
Students, RSA:
390 women out of total 1 267.

What is the average salary brackets one can look at for an actuary?
A newly qualified actuary, would typically earn between R550 000 and R700 000 per annum, excluding bonuses and other incentives. Experienced actuaries (not in top management positions) could earn between R800 000 and R1 200 000 per annum, excluding bonuses and other incentives.