[Skip to content]

Sign up for our daily newsletter
The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Working overseas supplement: Australia


The Australian job market has been very active over the last twelve months and there has been strong interest and demand in actuaries from overseas to fill the gaps. I interviewed David Creaven — who arrived in Australia from Ireland in 2007 — to get his views on making the move to Australia.

Tell me a bit about your background.
I grew up in Ireland and completed my Bachelor of Actuarial and Financial Studies at University College Dublin in 2002. I then joined Watson Wyatt as a consultant in their Insurance and Financial Services Practice and completed my actuarial exams becoming an FIA in 2006. In 2007 the world beckoned; my travels included a ski season in New Zealand and three months sailing off the Australian coast and in the South Pacific. I also decided to get a working holiday visa for Australia which enabled me to work for up to 12 months.

How easy was it to find a job?
It was important to think about it well in advance and put in some planning by contacting companies ahead of time and keeping in touch. It was also important to remember that preparation is needed before any interview — you can become more relaxed about things after 10 months of travelling. Applying for a contract position should be treated in just the same way as applying for a job back home. I took a contract with a life insurance company and once this was completed they encouraged me to stay on as a team leader (after a quick trip home via South America), the company sponsoring a temporary visa that lasts for up to four years.

What were the most transferable skills?
One of the things we were told at university was that actuarial skills travel well and this has proved to be true. Modelling, computer proficiency and the basic general actuarial skill-set are all directly relevant regardless of which country you are in. I’ve needed to come to terms with the regulatory environment which is quite different and has given me a new perspective. I feel there are opportunities here, particularly for newly qualified actuaries or students who have some experience and are still completing their exams.

How do you find the working environment?
In Dublin I worked with people who had a similar background and mindset to me. A key difference here is the variety in the background and culture of those I work with, for example people from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the US. Working with people from different cultures has provided me with an opportunity to develop stronger communication and people skills.

What do you enjoy about the Australian lifestyle?
I have a better work/life balance here, and more time to reflect on my career direction and life in general. Aussies place great emphasis on the outdoors and this is something I have embraced. Sydney offers world class beach life and if surfing or sailing is your game this is the perfect playground.

How do salaries compare with the UK?
The motivation to move overseas should come from a desire to travel, explore and experience other cultures and environments. In terms of salary, I believe from a net point of view you are by no means at a disadvantage. I also believe you can enjoy a higher standard of living here. Sydney can be an expensive city but heading to the beach first thing in the morning and catching a wave before work costs nothing and in my view is priceless.

Working in Australia
All travellers to Australia, other than Australian and New Zealand citizens, are required to hold a valid visa to travel to Australia. If you are staying for a longer period of time or intend to work or study in Australia you should check with the Embassy regarding visa requirements. For further information on visas that may be available contact your nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate or visit the Department of Immigration website. Address: Australian High Commission Strand London WC2B 4LA Tel: +44(0)20 7379 4334 Fax: +44(0)20 7240 5333 Websites: www.australia.org.uk www.immi.gov.au www.uk.embassy.gov.au