• Role: Assistant Consultant
  • Location: London
  • University: Sheffield
  • Degree: Mathematics

Shyam Gharial

Why did you choose an actuarial career?

After I had finished my BSc in Maths I went travelling for 15 months, hoping that along the way I might figure out what to do with my life. I’d never heard of an actuary until I met an American actuarial student, who was visiting the ranch I was working on in Australia. Since we both enjoyed maths (and she was very attractive) I thought I’d research the profession.

I visited The Actuarial Profession website, liked the sound of the profession and decided I needed to study further if I was to have any hope of getting in, as I had found it difficult to get on to a graduate course with a 2.2 grade from my undergraduate course.

What does your job involve?

I started at Quantum Advisory, an employee benefits consultancy, in May 2006. Since joining I have been involved in many different areas of work and with a number of different actuaries from the start.

Actuarial jobs have included creating valuation models; special projects involving cost savings for pension schemes and companies. I am currently concentrating on investment consulting work, which involves preparing presentations for clients; manager selection, monitoring and creating market reports. Other areas of work I have been involved in are attending client meetings, tendering for new business, recruitment, research in to new aids/tools, and looking at new office buildings to rent, etc.

Which skills do you need?

I believe it is important to be diligent and hard working, as well as being a little bit clever. For consulting, one should be at ease meeting and speaking to people, and not afraid to ask questions. For my job in particular, it has not been essential, but I’m sure it has been a plus, that I have been comfortable with occasionally being thrown in at the deep end.

What do you like most about your job?

Being in a small company (47 employees) has allowed me to work closely and regularly with a number of qualified actuaries and owners of the company, who have vast experience between them. I love learning by attending and speaking at client and other meetings, although I am mainly based in the office. The owners encourage staff to take relevant qualifications and offer good support.

How do you achieve a work/life balance?

Outside of work, I have three months of play at a time and then hibernate for three months when I study. It can be difficult locking yourself away from everyone for long periods but, I find it is better for me to have a blinkered approach in order for me to pass the exams. In a way, I suppose you could call that balanced!

What are your future plans?

I am hoping to qualify by 2012. I am enjoying the investment work I am currently doing and hope to gain a deeper knowledge in this field. This would allow me to present to clients/prospects as a lead adviser.

Any advice you may have for others considering an actuarial career?

Do not think it is a nine to five job – especially taking in to account the studying. It is not all about maths – in fact I spend quite a lot of time writing reports, preparing data and communicating with clients. Certain rules can be quite frustrating, but one has to get on with the job or find ways around those rules which keeps you thinking.

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