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Five student members from India tell their story

Kush Gupta, Senior Manager and Actuary

Work for: MetLife

Kush GuptaTell us about yourself (your work background in brief)

I am a Fellow from IFoA since 2016. I have been working with MetLife, a leading global insurance company for the last 5+ years. In my current role, I work as an Independent Peer Reviewer for new products being priced and designed across Europe and the Middle East by MetLife.

Before this, I have worked with Prudential Assurance and Mercer consulting, with an overall work experience of 9.5 years. Over this time, I have worked with many teams, ranging from Embedded Value reporting, Statutory Valuation reporting, Modeling of insurance products, and Reporting and Valuation of Pension funds in the US under the Pension Protection Act.

What intrigued you the most about this profession?

While pursuing Chartered Accountancy during my university days (which I eventually dropped for actuarial science), my cousin told me about this profession. It was an unexplored field in India (still it is), highly challenging, needed a strong mathematics background, and offered more than ‘decent’ pay.

As a young university going student, still confused about their career, the idea intrigued me. I started to investigate more until one day, I met my high school senior pursuing this course, who then guided me further.

How has your journey been so far after stepping into this profession?

It has been an interesting, successful, and enjoyable journey. Interesting because there were times when I almost dropped this profession because of a shortage of employment opportunities in India.

Successful because I believe I have gained the right skillset throughout this journey. I failed only one exam, which helped me qualify at the right time in my career.

Enjoyable because I have always maintained the right balance between my studies, office responsibilities, skill development, and personal life. Unlike most other students, I always gave one actuarial exam at a time. I cherish the memory of each and every six-month exam diet – split between studies, actuarial skill development and a lot more fun.

What do you enjoy the most about this profession/ your job role?

In my current role, I enjoy sharing responsibilities towards ensuring the right products enter the market that meets customer's need and the shareholders’ need for profitability. This comes from various discussions with both senior Product Actuaries as well as Valuation Actuaries. With such exposure, I am hopeful it will be a handy skill in my professional growth where I can add more value to whatever responsibilities I am trusted with.

I also enjoy having an opportunity to work in so many diverse areas, experience so many different problems/challenges, overcome them, and learn from the best senior actuaries around.

One piece of advice you would like to give to the students who are embarking on their journey as an actuary

I have always been someone who admires simplicity. My general advice to all the students is to keep things simple, do not overburden yourself, stay focused on your studies and actuarial skill development at work, and enjoy this journey with a high level of professionalism and ethics.

Priya Mantri, Unit Manager

Work for: MetLife

Priya MantriTell us about yourself (your work background in brief)

I am a recently qualified Fellow from IFoA (2020). I am currently working with Metlife as Unit Manager in the Global Actuarial Modelling team. I have more than 7 years of experience in the Life Insurance domain.

Why did you decide to become an actuary?

I got to know about the actuarial profession in class Xth through my mathematics teachers. He suggested exploring actuarial as a career option after looking at my mathematical/statistical skills.

At that time, actuarial was a very new and unfamiliar career option. This intrigued me the most as I wanted to go the unconventional way and wanted to pick up something new.

As someone who loves mathematics and looking to explore an unconventional career option, I decided to start writing actuarial exams along with my graduation.

What do you enjoy the most about this profession/ your job role?

I have recently stepped into a new role due to the restructuring of my team. In this new role, I'm leading model development, testing and production for one country. This gives me exposure to end-to-end activities for my country and provides an opportunity to collaborate across various teams. I enjoy working directly with the Chief Actuary alongside other actuaries and being involved in my country's essential aspects. I am the "first-go-to" contact person for my country, making my work more challenging and exciting. The best part of my role is that it provides me with the right balance between technical and management exposure.

One piece of advice you would like to give to the students who are embarking on their journey as an actuary

Try to maintain the right balance between clearing exams and your work experience. Too many exams with little knowledge of actual work might give you short term rewards but will hamper your career progress in the long term. Similarly, just focusing on work and not clearing exams will delay your qualification. You will lag behind your peer actuaries.

Megha Mehra, Senior Actuarial Associate

Works for: Milliman

Megha MehraTell us about yourself (your work background in brief)

I have been working with Milliman (based out of New Delhi, India) since the start of my career. I am part of the life technology and solutions team which is responsible for the development of Milliman’s proprietary actuarial software (MG-ALFA). Besides my work on MG-ALFA, I have worked on multiple actuarial modelling and research projects.

What intrigued you the most about this profession?

I was always inclined towards mathematics and wanted to pursue a career in a related field. When I came to know about the profession through a career counsellor, I was excited to see the application of mathematics and statistics in real life.  Prospects of a fulfilling and successful career helped me with my decision.

How has your journey been so far after stepping into this profession?

I have enjoyed my journey so far and learned a lot about the actuarial profession. I like the global exposure that comes with my consulting role. The work environment has been very positive and professional, which helps me become a better person as well. 

What do you enjoy the most about this profession/ your job role?

I like working for a consulting firm because of the opportunity it offers to work on a variety of projects. Each project comes with its unique challenges and it helps me learn at a faster pace. One aspect of my work that I enjoy the most is translating regulations into actuarial models. With advancements in technology, actuaries need to equip themselves with the knowledge required to survive in the modern insurance world. I consider myself lucky to be working in the insurance technology domain and helping my clients advance in this area.

One piece of advice you would like to give to the students who are embarking on their journey as an actuary

I would suggest students should not limit themselves by only focusing on clearing exams. Students should be aware of their professional obligations towards the profession. And, they should actively work on developing their technical, analytical, and communications skills.

Rakesh Rautela, Actuarial Analyst

Works for: Aon

Rakesh RautelaTell us about yourself (your work background in brief)

I had started my career as a Debt Management analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland. Later I joined AON within the Retirement team as an Actuarial Analyst and started working for the UK markets, which involves working primarily on Valuations and Investments. Additionally, providing a wide variety of retirement and health solutions to the clients including Pension Benefits Administration.

What intrigued you the most about this profession?

While I was pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Statistics, I came across Actuarial Profession. At that moment, I heard if you are good at mathematics and take an interest to solve problems using analytical skills, then actuarial science can give you a lot of opportunities to apply all these skills on a real-time basis. This really thrilled me and I started seeking more about this profession.

How has your journey been so far after stepping into this profession?

The journey starts as soon as one clears the first actuarial exam. I started my actuarial journey when I was in college. From writing my first exam to working for clients, the journey is full of learning.

I can divide this journey in two phases.

Phase 1 : When I had cleared five actuarial exams, which gave wide Domain/subject knowledge(accounts, economics, Finance, Statistics)

Phase 2 : When I started working with Aon (NYSE:AON) and providing solutions to the clients using the domain knowledge along with AON proprietary tools. I am glad whatever I have learnt in Phase 1 of my journey I can apply that directly in Phase 2 of my transition, which really motivates me to continue this journey and clearing further exams, since IFoA has industry oriented syllabus and any efforts that we make to clear actuarial exams is getting utilised by applying this knowledge in serving our clients more effectively.

What do you enjoy the most about this profession/ your job role?

This Profession requires you to work as a team having diversified team members to successfully complete a project. Some team members may be from Administration, some from Investment dept, some from actuarial or IT. On a regular basis, you will get a chance to work with a different background of people. I find working with people having different backgrounds most interesting in this profession.

One piece of advice you would like to give to the students who are embarking on their journey as an actuary

After 2020, the demand for actuaries is predicted to increase vastly. Even the non-traditional industry will start looking for actuarial candidates to set up their risk team. But to sound more relevant in this dynamic world, today, an actuarial student should also start enhancing their programming skills. And as I have mentioned earlier, IFoA always tries to create its syllabus as per the industry requirement. Seeing the demands of the actuaries increasing in the non-traditional industry, they have launched a data science program as well to make their students more relevant and can contribute their best output to the non-traditional industry as well. 

Shilpika Agrawal, FIA, Service Delivery Leader

Works for: MetLife

Shilpika AgrawalTell us about yourself (your work background in brief)

Currently, I am supporting asset adequacy and loss recognition testing and embedded value reporting for the US business portfolio. I am also co-leading the global economic and investment assumptions setting up process.

What intrigued you the most about this profession?

Helping a non-profit organisation spread awareness about insurance made me realise and understand the social impact of insurance products. Also, I liked the career path of becoming an actuary as it has the right blend of theoretical knowledge and practical experience. All this together gave me a sense of personal pride and a sense of satisfaction during my journey to become an actuary.

How has your journey been so far after stepping into this profession?

In a nutshell, the actuarial journey has been rewarding as it has equipped me with a broad range of skillsets. I got the chance to work in and for various geographies, products, and departments. It is a well-respected profession with numerous opportunities and possibilities.

What do you enjoy most about this profession/ your job role?

First, in my job, I can learn and apply both technical skills and business acumen. Second, this profession is genuinely global and allows working with a diverse set of professionals worldwide.

What advice do you give to students who are just about to embark on their career as an actuary?

Most importantly, focus on learning and picking up skills. Also, don’t wait to tick all the checkboxes; take more chances and be experimental with your career early on. You should explore and do a lot more with the diverse skills acquired while becoming an actuary. It is an exciting time to be an actuary!

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