Open-access content 27th July 2012
Nikhil shares his experiences as a scholarship recipient at Cass Business School, his views on life as an actuary in India, and the vision for alumni to support students when they can
What is your work and educational background?
I have been pursuing actuarial science from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFA), UK and Institute of Actuaries of India (IAI). I am an Associate of the IAI, and on the verge of qualifying as a fellow.
To strengthen my actuarial knowledge, I pursued an MSc in Actuarial Management from the Cass Business School, City University, London. I completed the course with distinction in 2009.
I also hold an engineering degree in electronics and communication from India (class of 2007). I have four years of general insurance actuarial experience. I started work at XL Insurance and worked for a year before taking the master's degree. I later joined Torus Insurance and have been with this company, based in New Delhi, for three years.
Describe your experience at Cass
It was rewarding and fulfilling. My primary reason for going there was its location in the City of London. I believe that 'to play the game, you have to be in the field'. I couldn't imagine being outside London and benefiting from a truly global experience. All global insurers and consultants have their offices in the business district, and you have the opportunity to meet them at various company events and at the Institute's seminars and so on.
I was impressed by the diverse profile of the students at Cass. They were from all around the globe, representing different cultures and viewpoints to all interactions.
And career support was amazing there. There were so many career networking sessions organised, with different companies coming over to interact with students and sharing their experiences and work profiles at their organisations, speaking about current
topics affecting the industry, and many more. I was fortunate that at one such event at Cass, I met someone who introduced me to my current job.
Which scholarship had you received, and how did you hear about it?
I was one of the first recipients of the Sareen Foundation Scholarship, founded by Vipin Sareen. This scholarship awarded £10,000 each to four candidates, two from the European Union and two from India (this has subsequently been increased to four students from each region).
I had read about the Sareen scholarship on the Cass website (on the 'Funding your study' page).
How has this scholarship helped you?
I believe that my career was enhanced by doing this course, and that the scholarship helped to bridge the distance between Cass and me.
What are your suggestions for people applying for scholarships?
My advice would be to apply for all relevant scholarships that you deem appropriate. However, do not live in the expectation of receiving one. Make all your arrangements as you would have done without receiving the scholarship, so if you are awarded one, that then becomes a bonus.
Do not set aside your ambitions to complete a master's degree. I follow the mantra: 'think about the loss in the future rather than the gain in the present'. Had I not got the scholarship, I would have still come to Cass. But the fact that I got one made my life a bit easier and more eventful.
What are your thoughts on the life of an actuary in India?
The actuarial profession became known to the Indian masses after the insurance sector was privatised in 2001. Prior to that, there were not many insurance companies in India, and there was little awareness of actuaries. From 2003 onwards, awareness of the profession has increased, and it has been growing.
The actuarial profession is quite small, in spite of the substantial growth in the number of students enrolling. It offers a perfect mix of work - life balance, financial remuneration and opportunities to exercise your brain continuously. It's a developing profession, so there are ample opportunities to implement your own thinking and craft your own processes in the most appropriate way.
Tell us about Professor Steve Haberman's campaign and the need for alumni/ corporates to provide scholarships
The campaign to promote actuarial studies is a global one. Haberman is committed to getting more people enrolled in the profession and providing them with actuarial education.
To this end, he is travelling around the globe and speaking to alumni and corporates to come forward and support students who have the potential to be future actuaries but aren't getting the desired platform.
When I met Vipin Sareen, he had a vision that all students who had received the scholarship should, at a later stage, return the privilege by sponsoring another candidate to pursue a similar course.
Through such gestures, alumni can support the students of their university, disseminating the message that they are grateful for the support that their university provided to them and that they are committed to bridging the gap for someone else.
Corporates should also be encouraged to come forward in such endeavours to promote the profession. They could make the most of the opportunity to attract top graduates by supporting them in their education.
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