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Student conference provides inspiration

The Students’ Actuarial Society (SAS) at Heriot-Watt University has a packed schedule of events this year, from career events and socials to revision and coding tutorials.


11 APRIL 2019 | THE ACTUARY TEAM
Heriot Watt


The Students’ Actuarial Society (SAS) at Heriot-Watt University has a packed schedule of events this year, from career events and socials to revision and coding tutorials. On 7 February, it held its flagship event, The Annual Actuarial Conference, attended by over 200 Heriot-Watt students, lecturers and actuaries.

The conference’s theme, ‘Exploring the Actuarial Horizon’, aimed to bring new inspiration and perspectives to the current and next generation of actuaries. The actuarial industry is challenged across a wide range of issues on a daily basis, so we must broaden our knowledge base.

With this goal in mind, our distinguished speakers delivered their presentations: Dr Gordon Woo discussed insuring against cyber risk, Dr David Hare spoke about laying strong foundations for your actuarial career, and Dr James Cruise demonstrated the statistical challenges behind modelling electricity reserves.

Dr Gordon Woo is a catastrophist at Risk Management Solutions and a visiting professor at University College London. He fascinated our audience on the increasing market for cyber risk insurance and the need to be proactive in managing cyber risk, as modern day companies have more data at their disposal than ever before. For those interested in finding out more about this topic, Gordon recently co-authored a book on the topic, titled Solving Cyber Risk.

Dr David Hare is a specialist in life insurance, having been chief actuary at Standard Life, a partner at Deloitte and an IFoA president. His highly entertaining presentation drawn from his vast experience in the industry. He emphasised three principles: the importance of communicating effectively by knowing your audience and staying as concise as possible; controlling yourself by avoiding the knee-jerk reaction, understanding what drives you, and thinking about others; and continual learning by expanding your horizons and exploring the IFoA skill set framework (which can be found at bit.ly/2ccBDdm).

Dr James Cruise is a well-known and popular lecturer and researcher at Heriot-Watt. His research has involved applying probability to modelling information spread on social networks, queue systems for internet routers, and methods for reducing public transport congestion. With electric cars and renewable energy becoming commonplace in modern society, how can we manage the change? His talk on how to accurately manage electricity reserves using dynamic optimisation of supply enthralled the audience, as he demonstrated how transferable our actuarial knowledge is across other disciplines.

I would like to thank Scottish Widows, our conference sponsor, for its support, as well as the IFoA for its continued sponsorship of the best question prizes and Ian Farr from the Worshipful Company of Actuaries. Finally, I’d like to thank the SAS committee and conference sub-committee for making the event a resounding success. 

By Stewart Young, SAS conference director 2019