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Monica Allanach Lecture: Sex in the 21st Century


03 SEPTEMBER 2015 | BY THE ACTUARY TEAM

Kathryn Morgan

Kathryn Morgan (pictured above), director of regulatory operations at Gibraltar Financial Services Commission, delivered a stimulating lecture on ‘Sex in the 21st Century’ on 15 July, encouraging women actuaries to navigate to the top of their fields. 

Morgan’s lecture was the first in what is hoped to be an annual lecture held in honour of Monica Allanach, and was generously sponsored by the Prudential. Allanach was a trailblazer and the first woman on the Institute of Actuaries’ Council. She introduced ‘ladies’ tea parties’ in the 1950s to provide a forum for women to discuss their careers, and worked lifelong at the Prudential, where she retired from her position as actuary for the UK in 1981.

IFoA president Fiona Morrison opened the lecture, welcoming everyone to celebrate Allanach’s achievements in paving the way for all female actuaries and to consider how we can continue her legacy into the future. Morrison wondered whether she would be standing there, as the second female president of the IFoA, were it not for Allanach – “I suspect the answer is ‘probably not’,” she said.

Karin Brown, director of corporate pensions and legacy at Prudential Assurance, introduced Morgan to the stage, outlining her illustrious career and her contributions to regulatory policy, general insurance and to the IFoA.

With the backdrop of Allanach’s remarkable achievements, Morgan delivered an insightful, funny and inspiring lecture. 

She was frank in discussing the tactics she has employed to be both successful and fulfilled in her career. Her advice spanned from “Do every role in a sessional meeting at least once” and “Try to put something of yourself in every interaction you have with others” to “If you have to develop coping mechanisms to get you through the day, find another job – and make sure you test the corporate culture before you do”. She also recommended taking risks: “Find people you don’t know at a conference and find out what’s interesting about them.” Her overall message was that, like Allanach, women shouldn’t feel any barriers to going after what they want; likewise, they should make sure that, when they get what they want, they are also happy. 

Morgan asked the audience to offer coping mechanisms and further advice for making the field of actuaries more diverse. This led to a lively period of questions and answers that covered flexible working schedules, the provision of more opportunities for women in senior roles and whether or not there should be a business case for diversity – or, if this is a moot point, whether gender equality should be a ‘given’.

The session was filmed and is available to view at bit.ly/1DFHNPn