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Friday, January 20, 2017

Executive Success: Numbers add up to a top career | New Zealand Herald

Photo: Helen Twose
"Actuaries' work is no longer confined to the world of finance" inform Helen Twose, freelance business journalist who writes regularly about KiwiSaver and entrepreneurial companies.

PwC consulting actuary Andrea Gluyas. 
Photo / Mark Mitchell

Despite regularly being ranked as one of the most desirable jobs by US employment report Jobs Rated Almanac, becoming an actuary isn't usually on the radar of people setting off into the working world.

Fortunately for PwC consulting actuary Andrea Gluyas, her colleagues across the firm spot potential actuarial talent during graduate recruitment and send them her way.

Gluyas, 49, says once she has explained what an actuary is - in her words, a financial mathematician - it's not a hard sell.

"It's actually getting people to find out about the possibility of the job because it is so small that people don't come across it," she says.

"That is a real challenge for us."

The newly elected president of the New Zealand Society of Actuaries - the first woman in its 60-year history - made the call to become an actuary in her final years of secondary school.

A bright student with a real love of maths, she baulked at heading off to medical school, the preferred choice for top scholars at her secondary school, New Plymouth Girls' High.

A good friend's brother suggested becoming an actuary, and she's never looked back.

Being incredibly numerate is at the heart of actuarial work, but Gluyas says the path into an actuarial career can be through a commerce-focused degree, as well as one based around pure maths.

Why choose Victoria

Victoria University has also begun offering an actuarial science major, the only New Zealand university to do so, as part of either a commerce or science degree...

Actuaries have traditionally been part of the finance sector, particularly life insurance, where the work focuses on solving problems involving money and uncertain future events, she says.

It's still how most actuaries get their start, but increasingly there are opportunities to take that focus on the long-term and in-depth statistical analysis into the public sector as part of the Government's social investment approach.

"Rather than having programmes that are assessed after a year, or two or three years, actually looking at whether programmes make a difference to somebody's entire future lifetime," says Gluyas.

"It's about bringing the way actuaries use past data and analyse it and then bring in judgment and expectations about the future, then model future lifetimes to really try and make a difference, really try and work out what things that happen to someone early on in their life will affect their future outcomes for the rest of their adult life."

While the industry is changing to reflect new demands for its skills, it has been slow to attract women.

Source: New Zealand Herald