Actuarial Awards 2019 Stars of the future: Rose Pashley

The Actuarial Post Stars of the Future Awards showcase the emerging talent of the actuarial profession. The 2019 contest was a close-run thing and we’re delighted to be able to report that our very own Rose Pashley was first runner-up after voting closed in October. In an interview with Actuarial Post, Rose reflects on her career to date, the hard work that goes in to achieving professional qualifications and how the “Pomodoro” technique helped with her study regime.

Thank you to the people who took time out of their busy days to vote for me. It was lovely of you, so cheers (whether or not you were cajoled into it by Gemma Dawson, who was a very enthusiastic campaigner).

I love working as a general insurance actuary – it’s a great mix of collaborating with people and mathsy-type analysis. An ex-colleague told me she thinks being curious is a key part of being a good actuary, and it stuck with me. Having curiosity helps you to drill into what really matters, so you can take what you learn from data and industry knowledge and help put it into practice in the business.

Every day is different

At Asta, we have mixed roles across capital, reserving and other areas of the actuarial function. I really enjoy the variety of work, learning something new every day and making connections across different business areas. I’ve especially enjoyed getting stuck into capital work over the last year, meeting underwriters to understand their view of the risks, and learning more about the business planning process.

You asked what the biggest challenge has been of my career so far. Becoming qualified is a huge challenge – you’re taking a pool of people who have all been high achievers academically and get them to sit many exams, some of which have pass rates of around 30%. That on top of juggling work, study and home life makes it really tough. The exams are a long hard slog, so I think the key is to find what works for you and keep plodding along steadily.

The Pomodoro technique

In terms of passing on what I found useful, I tried to concentrate my study, both in terms of time and content, as it’s easy to get exhausted from working non-stop but it’s not really helping towards the exam. I found the Pomodoro technique useful, which I think is named after the tomato kitchen timers people used to use. Each 25-minute block of studying is a “Pomodoro”, which is followed by at least a 5-minute break. You can count up how many Pomodoros you’ve done in a day, and it gives you a way of measuring how much productive time you’ve spent on each exam (plus seeing how many you’ve done gives you good justification for taking the evening off). There are a few different apps to help you too. Everyone’s different though – if rewarding yourself with cheese is your bag then keep at it (this definitely also worked for me).

Ideas over beer

My favourite part of my career so far has been the people – learning from everyone, bouncing ideas off each other, and just getting to know everyone over a beer. Having a cracking team around you is fantastic, and I feel really lucky to have that, both at Asta and at LCP where I previously worked. I’m looking forward to more of that in the future.

This article was first published in the November 2019 edition of Actuarial Post and has been re-produced here with their kind permission.