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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Inside story: Richard Galbraith

What you give definitely comes back 10-fold

What was your earliest dream job?

To be a pilot. 

What volunteer role(s) do you do?

I’m the IFoA representative on the Advice and Assistance Committee for the International Actuarial Association (IAA), and a member of the IAA African sub-committee. I also present Stage 3 Professional Skills Training (PST).  

What’s involved in your role(s)?  

I’ve attended the past three IAA conferences in St Petersburg, Cape Town and Budapest to engage with the committees I’m a member of. For the Stage 3 PST, I develop sessions based on the IFoA professionalism content and facilitate the sessions internally within my company, at Staple Inn and this year at some conferences. 

What motivates you to volunteer?

I am proud to be a member of the actuarial profession and what you give definitely comes back 10-fold. I started as a way of developing my own skillset, to network outside my company, and gain a more global view of how the profession works. 

What do you hope to achieve?

I want to develop my confidence, skillset, and my view of the world. Everything else is a bonus.

What new skills or knowledge have you developed?

To be able to stand up and present to a large audience. As part of our day jobs, we don’t often get such opportunities, and when we do, they’re few and far between, so we don’t get to practice and improve. As actuaries, we often wrongly get attributed with a lack of communication skills, and I don’t think this is fair. I want to prove we are good at it.

Do you think volunteering has helped you in your day job?

Definitely. It’s helped my confidence, and hopefully my credibility. It’s useful to bring back knowledge from these global events and understand how the bigger issues are being managed, which helps me make suggestions at a local level.

Have there been any memorable moments?

My volunteer roles have luckily complemented each other. Off the back of the professional skills training I’ve been leading on a thread of work for the African sub-committee on ‘Professionalism in Africa’, I was asked to develop and facilitate a two-day professional skills course in Kenya at the end of May 2017. That by far has been the most amazing and memorable moment. The safari I booked myself onto after the session was pretty memorable as well!   

How do you balance your day job and volunteer role?

An understanding manager, a company that supports the volunteer work, and a few hours extra when necessary. Most importantly, I have a very supportive wife.

How do you relax away from the office?

I’m a keen long-distance runner. When not running, I like baking or cooking.

What would you say to others considering a volunteer role?

Don’t consider it, just do it. Being part of the IAA has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in my career. 

Who is your role model?

I believe in taking the best attributes from the people I meet and building them into what I do. If I had to pick one, it would be my late father. I had great respect for his work ethic, and the fair way he treated people. Since volunteering, I’ve gained great respect for Chris Daykin and Sundeep Raichura. Both have such big ideas for the profession, and go out of their way to give as much time as possible to develop it globally.

What has been the most brilliant moment of your career to date?

I had the opportunity to work in Paris for two years, and Amsterdam for another two with my current company. I was given a MoSeS pensions valuation model and told to ‘make it faster’. I managed to improve the run time by optimising the code, taking it down from two and a half hours to eight minutes, with the same results on back testing. 

It’s a bit of a geeky answer, but it does stand out in my memory as ‘brilliant’.

Richard Galbraith Actuary and senior enterprise risk manager, Aviva Health Business

To share your engagement or find out about volunteering for the IFoA, contact: debbie.atkins@actuaries.org.uk