Sarah Shen discusses her experience as an actuarial analyst at a consulting firm

Sarah Shen discusses her experience as an actuarial analyst at a consulting firm


Sarah Shen-150b“What does an actuarial analyst do?” or “OK….” are the two most common responses that people have after I introduce my job title to them.


Hello! My name is Sarah Shen. I work for Melville Jessup Weaver as an actuarial analyst.


Actuaries / actuarial analysts practice in a number of different industries, e.g. insurance, superannuation, investment and so on. We apply our skills and knowledge to solve a wide range of business problems.  Working for an actuarial consulting firm gives me ample opportunities to be involved in all kinds of projects. My typical day at work involves doing both regular client work tasks as well as other project-based work.


Regular tasks

♦ collect and analyse statistics about past financial events (to provide basis for future forecast)

♦ calculate the assets and liabilities of insurance companies (to determine their financial strength)

♦ prepare reports and advise on investment, insurance and superannuation schemes


Individual projects

♦ analyse and solve business problems by applying mathematical and statistical modelling techniques

♦ give advice to businesses or government departments on managing financial risks

♦ perform testing and validation for complex online investment tools or models


I graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Statistics and Operational Research. During my 4 years of study in Victoria, I completed papers covering a number of subjects including Statistics, Operational Research, Physics, Mathematics, Finance, Economics, Computing Science and Actuarial Science. What makes an actuarial career so attractive to me is that it provides me with the perfect opportunity to apply these mixed skills and broad knowledge to solve real-world problems.


To become a fully qualified actuary requires passing a series of examinations, which can be long and energy-consuming. You will want to be totally committed before deciding whether to pursue this rewarding and yet lengthy career path. Excellent time management skills is one of the key skills that you must acquire in order to balance your commitments around work, life and study. Make sure that you are always motivated and passionate about everything that comes with being an actuary – yes, that includes work, studies and the exams.

NZ Actuaries