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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Not all heroes wear capes



To mark International Volunteer Day (5 December) and as part of the IFoA’s campaign to celebrate the exceptional commitment of IFoA volunteers, eight presidents of the IFoA, and the president-elect, share their thoughts on IFoA volunteering

Jane Curtis
Jane Curtis


President 2011

“I have been volunteering since 1985, in education and regulation, as president, and am currently representing the IFoA at the International Actuarial Association.

“Why am I still volunteering? I get tremendous enjoyment out of the variety of work and I meet some great people along the way. I feel as though I can make a difference and that my opinions are valued.

“On passing my last exam in 1985, actuarial colleagues suggested that I volunteer. 

I did, and have never regretted that decision. It has given me experiences which I would never have had as part of my day job. It has given me the skills and confidence to do that job even better.”

David Hare
David Hare


President 2013

“I started volunteering for the IFoA pretty much straight away after I qualified in 1988. My first role was as career adviser at Glasgow University – I didn’t realise I was helping to recruit a future president when I met a PhD student called John Taylor!

“The IFoA has rapidly become an organisation with an international remit – a process I’ve been glad to be part of. Nowadays, it’s so easy for international members to get involved, not only in activities in their local region, but also collaborating with colleagues in London or wherever they are based using digital technologies.

“I’ve learned a huge amount in 30 years of volunteering – not just about actuarial matters, but also governance skills and strategic thinking. And it’s been a lot of fun.

“A small profession like ours needs its members to volunteer if it is to continue to punch above its weight.”

Nick Salter
Nick Salter
Fiona Morrison
Fiona Morrison


President 2014

“As president, I set out to place diversity at the heart of the IFoA. I had great support from the executive team in this and everything we did. But they’d be the first to say that they can only work with what we members give them. It’s thanks to the commitment of fellow volunteers that my presidential programme had a real impact.

“I first volunteered – for the old Institute of Actuaries – back in 1986, because I was told by my peers in my first actuarial role at Duncan C Fraser that it was ‘the right thing to do’.

“I felt that I had something particular to give – I have a background in economics,  which is a little unusual for  an actuary.

“And, as members, we should be more than just spectators or consumers!”


President 2015

“What’s the value of volunteering?

“I have found volunteering to be wonderfully fulfilling, with opportunities to develop skills alongside the day job. And I have met so many interesting people outside of my circle.

“When I was president four years ago, more than 3,500 of us were volunteers, and that number has grown since to more than 4,000. I remember trying to ‘monetise’ this – say, in a single year, 4,000 people do 20 hours of volunteering for the IFoA and we place a notional commercial value of £100 an hour, that is £8m worth of volunteering! 

“I admire and celebrate the volunteers, and the outputs that help the IFoA to benefit business, government and society.”

Colin Wilson
Colin Wilson
Marjorie Ngwenya
Marjorie Ngwenya


President 2016

“When I qualified, my boss – who was himself a volunteer for the Institute – encouraged me to get involved.

“I enjoyed it so much and found the wider perspective it gave me so useful that I didn’t stop volunteering for the next 20 years, at the end of which time I found I was president.

“At the end of my term on the presidential team I took a short break, but am now again looking for ways in which I can give something back to my profession.”


President 2017

“Volunteers are vital to the success of our profession. And we’re very lucky to benefit from such a high level of member engagement.

“Time is in short supply, but I feel a sense of responsibility to the people before me, those who marked my exam papers, put together events I attended and policy papers I read.

“Within the profession there is a ready-made community where I can make a difference.

“Since 2006, I have volunteered, alongside many colleagues, as an editor for The Actuary, on Council and Management Board, and, of course, as IFoA president. In the last few years I have been able to do all this as a South Africa-based member.

“I’m very proud to be part of this global volunteer community.”

Jules Constantinou
Jules Constantinou
John Taylor
John Taylor


President 2018

“I want to thank each of the 4,000-plus members who volunteer for the IFoA. But I know they’re not doing it for recognition. They’re doing it because they feel they have something to give to advance our profession.

“And we do all have something to give. We need people from a diversity of backgrounds to share their ideas, and we must give these volunteers licence to take responsibility and make a difference.

“I joined the Risk Member Interest Group in 2006. I wanted to work with like-minded actuaries to create an opportunity for our profession to move into this adjacent field. 

“The IFoA now has a Risk Practice Board and the CERA qualification, and many actuaries work in and lead risk functions in industry.

“In this role and many others, I was a part of a team working for positive change in our profession. I want more people to join that team, to volunteer, to get involved.”


Current president

“Jimmy Reid said: ‘I am convinced that the great mass of our people go through life without  even a glimmer of what they could have contributed to their fellow human beings.’

“I myself started volunteering out of a sense of responsibility towards the customers who rely on the work that actuaries do. That led to volunteering for an IFoA Working Party, aiming to improve people’s retirements.

“But I also wanted to ‘give something back’ for the good fortune that I have had, in a free education in Scotland and subsequently a fulfilling career.

“We are fortunate indeed that so many colleagues share these motivations and are awake to their potential to contribute; it has helped our professional body to punch way above its weight.

“As president of the IFoA (a volunteer myself) I want to thank all our volunteers (past and present) for all that you do. You are driving the IFoA forward and shaping the future of the profession.” 


Tan Suee Chieh
Tan Suee Chieh



“When I was a student – 40 years ago! – I remember the printed journals I received. In the inside cover it said: 

‘I hold every man a debtor to his profession’ – Sir Francis Bacon.

“I am proud and grateful to be given the opportunity to give back to the actuarial profession through volunteer positions, as a member of Council since 2017 and now as part of the presidential team.

“Often, the issues we handle are complex and contentious. However, I enjoy working through them with fellow members, the executive and the IFoA’s partners. Everyone I meet has good intentions and wants the best for the profession.

“I am fortunate to have an opportunity to influence the future of the profession, helping it to greater prominence, to reach beyond traditional boundaries and to join the dots with emerging advances in other disciplines – and to strengthen the IFoA in my local region.”

Find out more and  get involved at: www.actuaries.org.uk/volunteering-ifoa