Besijana works at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Toronto, Canada. She is an avid long-distance runner and enjoys competing in trail running races. Another passion is playing classical music on the piano. Besijana speaks four languages and so favours watching foreign films, with her close circle of friends.
Which actuarial society are you a member of?
I am a member of the Society of Actuaries - the professional body for actuaries in the US and Canada
Where do you work?
I work in the Audit and Assurance Group at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Toronto, Canada.
I am a team lead in the confirmation centre which is part of the audit transformation program. Success in this leadership position is dependent on exceptional communication abilities and high conscientiousness.
My educational background is in mathematics from the University of Toronto.
Which actuarial fields are the most popular in your country and why?
I believe that the most popular areas are life, pensions, property and casualty as those are the most well-established fields.
Can you tell us a bit about the industry or market that you work in?
It is exciting to be part of the audit transformation initiative, and to be able to provide input that directly aids in the optimisation of the confirmation process.
The confirmation centre was established in January 2014, the same time that I happened to join the company.
What led you to choose to study for an actuarial qualification?
A love for advanced mathematics mixed with a curiosity for economics and finance. Being an independent thinker, I enjoy the intellectual challenge that the actuarial exams present.
Which of the actuarial exams do you consider the most difficult and why?
While later exams are more mathematically rigorous, I believe the challenge of the actuarial exams lies in the high standards required.
In how many years do you expect to qualify?
I expect to become an Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) in the next four years as I continue to work full-time.
Is there an actuarial student society in your area and what kind of activities does it organise?
Yes, the University of Toronto has an actuarial society. It organises various networking and excel training events.
What's the reputation of actuaries in your country?
It is a well-respected career.
What are your views on the role of an actuary, now and in the future?
I believe that the actuarial role will become more influential in non-traditional fields in the financial services industry.
It is an ever expanding and evolving role that is easily applicable and transferrable to new areas such as quantitative finance, for example.
In the UK the skill set of an actuary is becoming more recognised across a wide range of disciplines, is this also true in Canada?
Yes, a multidisciplinary approach is preferable and the deep knowledge and expertise that actuaries have is easily transferable to those areas. I think it also depends on the individual, whether someone in actuarial science is interested in learning more about those fields and where his or her interests lie.
How would you describe a typical day at work?
A typical day in my work place often presents competing demands that need to be prioritised. A high work ethic is essential and so is recognising the value of team work.
What were the influences that shaped your career decisions to date?
I entered university in the economics and finance program, but I felt drawn towards taking mathematics courses and decided to transfer to that program.
I discovered my interest in actuarial science by completing electives in this area and I have not looked back since.
Could you tell us about your immediate and longer term goals?
I am always striving to learn more. It is equally important that I gain experience in the work place as well as continue to study on my own.
What do you say when asked, "What is an actuary"?
I usually say that it is a term for a corporate mathematician.
How will you celebrate the day you qualify?
I will host a dinner party in order to celebrate my accomplishment with my friends.