Case study

Senior trainee actuary — Philip Grundey

Philip works in the Government Actuary's Department (GAD), providing actuarial analysis for public sector clients throughout the UK. Its work enables government to formulate national policy and manage public sector finances

How did you get your job?

Whilst researching graduate jobs, I came across the Government Actuary's Department (GAD). What attracted me to GAD was its work in pensions, investment, social security and insurance, which has an impact on the welfare of millions of people.

The assessment process was smooth and gave a good impression of GAD. I valued the opportunity to speak to one of the trainees on the day, which gave me further insight into the organisation.

What does your work involve?

I started out as a junior trainee actuary in the Staff Transfers team, which afforded me client contact early on in my career and gave me exposure to different public-sector pension schemes. I also appreciated the diversity of projects I was involved in.

Subsequently, I moved to the Public Sector Pension Schemes (PSPS) team where I gained experience in accounting work and developed my skills in pension scheme valuations and factor reviews. The nature of the work in the PSPS team gave me the opportunity to build long-term client relationships.

Currently, I work in the Actuarial Services team. I have recently been overseeing the public sector pensions valuations process from end to end, as well as leading on some of my own projects, which I have found an interesting and fulfilling challenge. Being able to follow projects through from beginning to end is a part of my role that gives me job satisfaction.

What do you enjoy about your job?

A key attraction was the friendly atmosphere at GAD. We're a sociable bunch - there are so many activities that you can be involved in, like regular chess and backgammon tournaments and football and cricket events.

How relevant is your degree?

I hold an MA in Mathematics from Oxford University. The first time I considered a career as an actuary was when I took an actuarial science module as part of my degree and discovered that I really enjoyed the application of mathematics and statistical ideas to tangible, real-world situations.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I've found that, as I've grown in experience, I've been able to take on more responsibilities (including line management), and this has helped me to prepare for my role as a qualified actuary.

At GAD, if you express an interest in an area, there are opportunities to develop. For example, I'm currently secretary to the Business Development Steering Group, which involves strategic thinking and supporting the effective management of GAD to deliver excellent client service.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

A career as an actuary could be a perfect fit if you have a passion for problem solving, would enjoy technical work and effective communication with clients.

My main advice to anyone planning to become an actuary is to gain work experience. You shouldn't worry about the industry or firm you gain your work experience in. What matters, and what will help you stand out, is the fact that you can demonstrate and apply the skills that are required for the trainee programme.

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