Meet Connie Wordsworth, one of our Senior Actuarial Technicians within our Actuarial Reporting function.
How would you describe your job?
We have Senior Actuarial Technicians working in several areas across the business, for example in our Planning & Forecasting team and our Customer and Product Management functions, but my particular focus is within the Actuarial Production team, looking after our reporting systems and processes. Over the past few years it has involved a good mix of day-to-day actuarial reporting work, various technical projects to improve the way we do things, and a bit of people management too!
What sort of projects have you been involved with?
The big one over the past year has been the testing and implementation of a brand new online reporting system called IDM, created by Milliman, our actuarial systems provider. It has allowed us to streamline our previous processes of running our actuarial models and applying manual adjustments – and having everything running in the cloud means we can focus more of our efforts on analysing results rather than pushing buttons on processes. This project is typical of the type of things our Actuarial Reporting teams have focused on over the last few years, to create efficiencies in the way we work.
This role doesn’t involve formal study support towards the actuarial exams. What would you say to someone who was wondering about development opportunities in the role?
You’ll need to have a fair bit of prior actuarial knowledge under your belt to succeed in this role, and it’s true that some people in the role choose to continue with the exams in their own time as part of their future career plans, but there’s much more to career development than actuarial exams! Being able to focus on your role and build your experience on the job often opens up new opportunities. I’ve found that being in the office during the main exam sittings means I’ve been able to take on additional responsibilities and look after projects at key times of the year that others might not have the chance to manage.
Senior Technicians often bridge the gap between our qualified actuaries and more junior colleagues, and if you’re interested in growing as a people manager then there are plenty of opportunities to get stuck in and support the development of others. We’re (usually!) a very reliable bunch and have a level of experience that means we can quickly develop into long-term and valued members of our teams. It’s also great working alongside the students, and seeing their development as they study towards becoming the next generation of actuaries. For those looking to broaden their experience, some of my colleagues who were Senior Technicians have gone on to become successful people managers and project managers across the business – and one even took the skills he had developed over the years and went to work in HR! So if you want to try something new, the company will always try to support you.
We have a great Learning & Development team here too, who run “bitesize” training courses on areas such as building strong teams, giving effective feedback to others, and time management – all of which have helped me to develop new skills over the years.
What would make someone a good fit for this role?
It’s important that you’re interested in looking at financial results and “digging into numbers” to work out what might be happening, particularly if any of our model outputs aren’t behaving as first expected for any reason. Enthusiasm and a great attitude to work are very important, and you need to be able to think independently. Our experienced actuaries are very approachable, but they also support our team’s development by encouraging us to figure things out for ourselves and to generate possible explanations as to what might be happening, rather than just blindly asking questions without first considering what’s going on. As a Senior Technician, you’re a role model to the rest of the team by displaying these sorts of thinking skills in your everyday work.
How long have you been at Wythall? Is it a good place to work?
I started as a junior technician around 8 years ago, and since then I’ve built a successful career at Phoenix and gained loads of knowledge and skills along the way. Wythall has a great working culture, the facilities are excellent and there’s always lots going on. Phoenix looks after its staff – the company has run wellbeing initiatives such as “know your numbers” where people could come and check their weight, blood pressure and BMI and get advice about healthier living and stress management, and we’re also encouraged to take time out of the office to volunteer in the local community. One of my main interests outside of work is music, so I’m particularly excited that we’ve recently set up a workplace choir, which meets at lunchtimes! It sounds like a cliché, but I wouldn’t have stuck around here for so long if I didn’t really enjoy working here – the people are nice and it’s a great working environment.
Connie Wordsworth, Senior Actuarial Technician