Lifestyle Article - Lights, Camera, Actuary: Spotlight on Alberto Chierici

Each month Zoe Bolton, founder of Bolton Associates will be talking to a GI actuary, who has moved away from the traditional actuarial career. We will gain a brief insight into their career trajectory, plus their advices and visions for the future of the actuarial profession. This month she talks to Alberto Chierici, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer SPIXII

 What is your current role, and how did you end up in it?
 My current role is quite hectic! I recently co-founded a tech business. Therefore, I am doing four full-time jobs: operations, accounting, fundraising and product development. The one I love the most and I spend the most time on is product development, which means shaping the way we build the technology product.

 I ended up there thanks to two big frustrations:
 From a professional standpoint, I had always tried hard to do something slightly innovative when working for insurance companies, but it was always difficult.

 From a personal perspective, I am a frustrated insurance customer. Buying a policy is a horrible experience, understanding exactly what I have bought is even worse, and let's not even talk about the claims experience. And that is just me - someone who is part of the 1% of the population having an overall understanding of insurance and finance. I can't imagine how the remaining 99% fair!
 What is the defining moment of your career to date?
 If I have to define it, it isn’t a moment, rather a constant feeling: an extraordinary hunger for doing something great and useful for the world. I have always chased what makes me satisfied, what makes me get out of bed in the morning.

 I have sought my true place in many roles and opportunities, and struggled somewhat to reconcile my creativity with my passion for technology and maths. I eventually ended up creating my own role. Interestingly I now have the lowest paid job of all my previous roles, but have a far higher degree of excitement at work!
 In your opinion, what prepared you best to take on your current role?The hunger I described above! Technically speaking, I have self-taught myself many things such as coding, machine learning, startups. I researched business models, read books and articles on innovation, developed sharp opinions on different markets. Business-wise, I had great mentors and teachers during my time at Deloitte, where I gained much experience in the art of professionalism and managing innovative projects.

 What is the biggest challenge you face in your role at present?
 Making decisions quickly and often with little information available
 When did you first join the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries, and what advice would you give to those students looking to emulate your career path?
 I joined the IFoA in 2011. The Profession taught me a great deal of useful things: the importance of understanding the technicalities of the financial and insurance world is often underrated. The emphasis on professionalism, specifically the Actuaries Code, is an important tool too. I see many start-ups in the insurance space struggling because teams lack such a deep level of understanding and professionalism. My advice for students considering a switch to the areas of data science, product management, tech includes dropping the exams and taking online classes, learning to code, reading lots of books, and finding a role where you can learn those things that the profession cannot teach you. If your switch is into non-traditional areas within financial services, completing the exams certainly adds value, but it isn't a necessity.
 If you had your time again, what would you do, career-wise?
 I would build a business straight away, especially during the times at university when cash isn’t such a big problem and there is a lot of time available to try new things. I have learnt more about business and real life in one year of startup life than in a decade of studies and work in big corporates.

 Please share your favourite piece of trivia with our readers!
 We only understand 4% of all the mass-energy of the universe.

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