Programmed for success

by Ailsa Sloan   •  

I first found out about the actuarial profession at the United Kingdom Intermediate Maths Challenge, which was sponsored by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. I thought that this would be an interesting career path to take and it certainly hasn’t disappointed.

I’m fast approaching the end of my first year in Spence’s Actuarial and Investment Graduate Programme. In such a short space of time, I’ve gained exposure to many different types of work.

Getting started on the job

Throughout my first months at Spence, I attended regular Graduate Development Programme training sessions, set up for all the different teams across our wider group and led by more experienced colleagues. These sessions gave background information on the work I’d be doing and were also aligned with the timing of the work. This meant that the training was fresh in my mind when it came to actually doing the work. The team is also very helpful and friendly, and all happy to answer any questions I have.

Being part of the Graduate Development Programme means I can also interact with colleagues across the business and next month we’re all going to meet up in Belfast for our first in person training event.

Dealing with challenges

Due to the cyclical nature of the work, I’ve discovered that good organisational skills are important to make sure I plan for work as it comes up. For me, this means making a structured plan for the day ahead is essential so that I can keep things on track. I’ve had to develop this skill as it wasn’t something I was used to doing, but I’ve found it has improved over time.

When I first started, everyone was still working from home. I was slightly worried about how this would work, going into a new job not meeting my colleagues in person. I’m very lucky having a spare room in my flat to use as an “office”, but it was still overwhelming at times trying to learn on the job, whilst also building relationships virtually. However, everyone on the team has been supportive, calling me to go through any pieces of work. Now that the offices are back open it’s been great to meet and interact with colleagues in person.

Learning to let go

Personally, I sometimes struggle with the concept of perfectionism and not wanting to make any mistakes. The do, check, review process means that errors will be picked up by the team, meaning that mistakes can be made and learned from. I am learning how to let perfectionism go and in fact, now realise that it’s possible to learn so much more from being imperfect.

Spence is very supportive with the exam process, giving us weekly study days. Studying and working at the same time is a challenge, so it’s important to take breaks. Going to the gym, doing some Highland Dancing, or playing the fiddle helps me balance the rigours of work and study.

Whilst I know it’s going to be a long process to become an Actuary, I feel very supported and encouraged through the structure of the Graduate Development Programme and I’m looking forward to updating you on my progress.

Further reading

Quarterly Report for Q2 2022

by Andrew Kerrin   •  

Pensions Accounting Update as at 30 June 2022

by Angela Burns   •  

Climate and investment reporting: setting expectations and empowering savers

by John Wilson   •  

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