A career in finance might seem linear and predictable to some, but for new actuarial science graduates, there is a wide range of exciting career prospects in this field. Whether it’s volunteering for a not-for-profit, pursuing a career in banking, or jumping into the world of Big Four accounting, a degree in actuarial science opens the door to limitless opportunities.
One changemaker who’s experienced both Bond’s actuarial science program and the world of finance is Gaby Dixon. Gaby completed her Bachelor of Actuarial Science at Bond University, partaking in career-building opportunities along the way. Gaby has since completed her Part I and Part II accreditations with the Actuaries Institute of Australia and is currently working as a Data & Artificial Intelligence (AI) Consultant at Deloitte.
In the latest instalment of our Women in Actuarial Science series, we spoke with Gaby about her pathway to studying actuarial science, her experience at Bond, and her current position at Deloitte.
What sparked your interest in actuarial science?
When approaching the end of my high school education, I was really interested in studying mathematics and commerce. I had heard of actuarial science through a friend who was graduating from the program, however, I initially had no interest in it as I didn’t enjoy studying statistics. Despite this, I decided to sign up for a challenge, believing deep down that I would change degrees after my first semester. Upon starting my degree, I found that I actually loved the challenge that the course presented – it honed critical thinking, developed my mathematical skills, and even fostered my interest in coding, something I wouldn’t have explored otherwise.
Why did you decide to study at Bond?
After growing up on the Gold Coast for most of my life, I was initially looking to study elsewhere in Australia, somewhere like Sydney. However, once I finished school, I didn’t feel ready to leave just yet. Upon receiving the Vice Chancellor’s Elite Scholarship, I decided to stay on the Gold Coast and study at Bond University. I was confident in this decision as I had relatives and friends who were Bond students or alumni that had only ever shared amazing stories about the University.
How did Bond prepare you for your future career?
I honestly believe that my experience studying actuarial science would have been so different anywhere else; I can’t imagine doing it without the help I received from my lecturers and friends in my small cohort. I always made the most of the networking opportunities at Bond, which allowed me to understand what areas of finance and economics I was most interested in pursuing after graduation. After talking to many people, interning at firms, and partaking in various mentoring programs, I decided that I was most interested in a consulting career, as I felt it would allow me to explore both strategy and technical projects.
Tell us a bit about your career path to date.
In 2019 I spent a lot of time applying for work opportunities and meeting with as many people in the industry as possible. I also got involved in a lot of community programs at and around uni, such as 180 Degrees Consulting, Sony Foundation Camp, and the Global Management Challenge, to improve my resume and build interests outside of my studies.
In 2020 I worked at a mid-tier firm in their forensic team, aiming to build their data analytics capabilities to assist with investigations. This had always been an area of interest of mine, but I continued exploring other pathways as I didn’t enjoy it as much as I initially thought I would. I frequently met with practising actuaries to discuss the specifics of their roles, and ultimately determined that the traditional route didn’t suit me. I was also regularly applying for roles and networking so that something was always on the horizon, and continued my volunteering to keep growing as an individual.
2021 looked a little different to the previous two years, as I was able to secure an internship with the Deloitte consulting team in data and AI. During this time, I found that I really loved the firm, the team, and their work, so when I was offered a position for the 2022 Graduate Program, I decided to join Deloitte permanently as a full-time employee. After I completed my internship, I realised I needed a break due to the ongoing commitment of my degree. I decided to enjoy the rest of 2021 by taking time off and studying part-time, pursuing my journey to become a qualified actuary with the Australian Institute of Actuaries. During this time, I volunteered with different organisations to discover my passions away from academics, undertaking roles at United Nations Youth Australia, Make-A-Wish Gold Coast, and OzHarvest.
How would you explain your role at Deloitte, and what are the highlights of your job?
Deloitte’s data and artificial intelligence consulting team has been the perfect fit for me. I have been exposed to various industries while working with people from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds and enjoying corporate life as a young woman. In this role, I focus on improving Deloitte’s financial processes through automation, building cloud structures, and using analytical insights to assist decision-making. This is the harmonious balance of strategy and technical focus that I had always been looking for. Deloitte’s Graduate Program has provided a seamless steppingstone from tertiary studies to a career in actuarial science. The program has allowed me to continue learning in a safe environment with access to industry-leading technology and the experience of working for a top-tier firm.
Are there any specific skills or traits that you think would suit a career in actuarial science?
I majored in Finance and Big Data while studying a Bachelor of Actuarial Science, and those technical skills have proved to be a highly valuable addition to my resume. However, to really stand out and be an invaluable team member, you must offer the interpersonal skills that allow you to appeal to every individual you interact with. After all, anyone can learn the technical skills, but the soft skills are what make you a winning applicant.
What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing a career in actuarial science?
Getting to this point has involved working with a diverse range of people in complex and frequently changing environments. This has highlighted what is important to me in a career, and ultimately, has helped me identify what will give me job satisfaction both short- and long-term.
My career opportunities have evolved by building relationships, attending networking events, and keeping in touch with industry professionals through platforms like LinkedIn. After figuring out what career path you want to pursue, applying for a position becomes really natural and you’ll be able to converse with ease and passion, improving your likelihood of success.