Articles - Focus On... Liz Oakley, Senior Commercial Actuary

 Liz OakleyQ&A with Liz Oakley, Senior Commercial Actuary



 1. So why did you become an actuary?
 I was never one of these people that wanted to be an actuary since they were little and I don’t think I even knew what an actuary was before I went to University.  I started out doing a maths with statistics degree at Southampton University where they also do a combined degree with actuarial sciences – the first year of the two courses had the same content and seeing some of the modules for the later years it looked like a really interesting career option.  I then did a Summer Internship with the actuarial department at LV= and getting to see the type and breadth of work that the actuaries were involved in sold it as a career.

 2. Has the role for actuaries changed since you entered the profession?
 The profession is constantly evolving and even in the 10 years that I’ve been working in the area, the role of actuaries has changed a great deal in response to changing market conditions.  I’ve been a part of three regulatory changes (realistic balance sheets, ICA and now Solvency II) and one of the toughest economic periods with the “credit crunch” and actuaries have had to adapt to meet these new challenges and new areas of work. 

 3. What will be the most significant issues facing the actuarial profession in the next five years?
 Making sure that the profession adapts with the fast changing regulatory, legal and competitive environment will be a real challenge.  In particular, the recent EU ruling banning the use of sex as a factor for determining insurance rates from 2012 could be a defining changing point for the profession particularly if it has wider implications for other forms of rating factors used by actuaries to price and assess risk.

 4. What have been the toughest challenges of your career to date?
 Lots of aspects have been challenging but those sort of experiences are the ones that shape your career.  Working through the implications of the credit crunch was a particularly tough period but I learnt a great deal during that brief period.

 5. What has been your most memorable career lesson?
 The value of working with lots of different people and gaining as much experience to different aspects of actuarial work as possible in your early career.

 6. What has been your best experience working as an actuary, and worst?
 The best experience (as I’m sure would be the case for most actuaries) was qualifying and as for the worst probably taking all the exams in the first place.

 7. What single piece of advice would you impart to aspiring actuaries hoping to advance their careers?
 To be open to new opportunities and to join a company like LV= that will give you lots of different exposures in your early career.

 8. If you could go back in time and give your Actuarial Trainee self one bit of advice, what would it be?
 To not worry quite so much about the exams as they really are only a very short part of your career.

 9. Where in the world would you most like to live and why?
 If I didn’t have to worry about working for a living, probably the Maldives which I don’t think needs much explanation.

 10. How do you spend your free time?
 I enjoy walking and running and I also play the piano.

 11. Stranded on a desert island what would be the 3 things you would have to have with you?(Excluding nearest and dearest of course)
 I think if I had my nearest and dearest I wouldn’t really want anything else.  

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