L, C, A Article - Lights Camera Actuary with Shil Patel


For the next few months Zoe Bolton will be talking to the senior actuaries in these firms, getting a brief insight into their career paths and visions for the future. This month Zoe interviews Shil Patel the UK Managing Director at Dynamo Analytics

 What is your current role, and how did you end up in it?
 I’m the UK Managing Director at Dynamo Analytics. We provide actuarial services and technology through our Psicle platform.
  
 I joined in 2012 as the first employee. I worked through various actuarial consulting roles before taking the position of director of Psicle in 2016 when we launched the software. I’ve recently taken the role to lead the UK whilst being responsible for our IFRS 17 proposition and for growing our international footprint.
  
 What is the defining moment of your career to date?
 Pretty easy one! Taking the plunge to follow a colleague from a graduate role at an established consultancy to a start-up he co-founded. This has provided me with so much commercial and business exposure.
  
 Our software started to establish a presence in the market around the same time that IFRS 17 and broader actuarial transformation programmes started really taking form. This has given me the opportunity to lead some significant IFRS17 and reserving transformations which has been a real privilege.
  
 In your opinion, what prepared you best to take on your current role?
 Our culture at Dynamo is to empower everyone within the organisation to be entrepreneurs. We were just a team of 4 when I joined Dynamo, and I was given a lot of autonomy, responsibility and time with senior management whilst I was fairly junior. There have been some tough challenges as a result, however it has provided a really good foundation for my current position.
  
 What is the biggest challenge you face in your role within this market?
 There are a couple of things. From a technology perspective, we’re constantly working to stay at the forefront and ahead of competitors. Managing this, while at the same time balancing the needs of our increasing user base is important. From a personal perspective, the transition from a largely technical actuarial role to a largely managerial role has been challenging, and our actuarial training doesn’t prepare us for that.
  
 How does your actuarial training and background assist in your day-to-day role now?
 It is core to what I do. Our proposition combines technology with highly skilled and pragmatic actuarial experts. I use actuarial skills daily in helping our team to build really great, industrialised actuarial solutions for the companies we work with.
  
 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 profession in 2010 with Towers Watson. I’ve got a couple of pieces of advice. Firstly, constantly take risks and try to put yourself in situations outside of your comfort zone! Secondly, train yourself to keep working through complex issues when things get tough. Grit and determination will make you someone people really want on their team.
  
 If you had your time again, what would you do, career-wise?
 I wouldn’t necessarily change anything from an insurance or actuarial perspective. An alternative career could have mixed modelling or maths with sports. For example, I’d love to work on improving the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern methodology in cricket. I also spent a lot of spare time at university and in my first few years of work building models to optimise my fantasy football teams (but with mixed success!).
  
 Please share your favourite piece of trivia with our readers!
 The Birthday Paradox is pretty widely known but still amazes me; in any group of 23 there is a greater than 50% chance that two people share birthdays. Interestingly this is higher in elite sports where there is a known correlation between performance and birth month. In the 2018 football world cup, the 32 squads in the tournament had 23 pairs of players that shared birthdays.
  

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