• Bio: Hannah was looking for a career that gave her the opportunity to use her mathematical skills when she found out about the actuarial profession. She discusses where her career has led her so far and why she loves where she is.
  • Organisation: Legal & General

Hannah Cook

When and why did you choose an actuarial career?

I have always loved maths and knew from quite an early stage in my degree that any career path would need to have a substantial maths element in it. I completed one of those online career searches that every good university careers department has and there, right underneath accountant, was actuary. I knew nothing about what actuaries did at that stage, but did a bit of research and decided that it sounded like just my sort of thing. That does make me sound a little as though I didn’t get past number two on the list, but it really did sound the most interesting suggestion on there!

What was your first job?

My first job was with Prudential, working in the systems development department, but I fairly quickly moved to Legal & General where I started off in the experience investigations team before moving on to EV reporting.

What skills have you gained since working?

I’ve gained a diverse range of skills since I started working – and I have used different ones as my career has progressed. Earlier on in my career, I had to be very details focused but as my career has progressed my skills are more in reviewing – being able to look at a piece of work that someone has produced and get a feel for whether the result is in the right ball park or not.

I think one of the most valuable skills as an actuary though is being able to think widely – to know that everything that we do has a consequence and be able to think through the end impact on the different stakeholders is a key part of what I do on a day to day basis.

How is your work different to when you first started as a trainee?

I think when you first start in a job the focus is very much on learning ‘how’ to do it and then later on you move on to the ‘why’. I remember when I was studying SA2 for the first time stopping every few minutes to say ‘Ah – so that’s why we do that!’. As a trainee you’re very focused on the piece of work that you’re doing – often without regard to the bigger picture. I think that is one of the biggest differences that hit me when I qualified.

Where do you work now and what does the job involve?

I lead Legal & General’s busy protection pricing department. We’re responsible for pricing the new business that we sell and monitoring the performance of the existing policies that we have. No two days are ever the same as we always seem to be working on a new project. I’ve got a great team of 15 who are a mixture of students and qualified actuaries and we all pitch in to make sure we achieve what we need to.

What does the future hold for you?

Who knows what the future holds for me? I have to confess I’m not a fan of the age old ‘Where do you see yourself in five years time?’ interview question. I don’t have a grand plan. What I do know is that I love my current job and plan to continue to do it for as long as I continue to enjoy it as much as I currently do. That’s the great thing about being an actuary though – the opportunities are so diverse that if you’re not happy in one role, there are plenty more out there if you’re willing to seek them out.

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