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Forging ahead: Ravi Summinga-Sonagadu

Published on: 3 May 2022

RaviWhen did you first consider an actuarial career and why?

I first heard the word ‘actuary’ from a close friend during the third year of secondary school. He often used to talk about his cousin, a qualified actuary, and this led me to research the actuarial career. As a student who loves mathematics and an ever-evolving or challenging environment, deciding to pursue it was quite straightforward.

What subject(s) did you study at university?

Predominantly statistical modules. Other subjects included risk management, economics, accounting, law modules, and modelling and programming courses.

What has been most challenging throughout your work/study life to date?

Coping with preparation for actuarial exams during the first year of the pandemic, especially with measures such as working from home and lockdowns in place. However, the introduction of online exams, as well as frequent communications and updates from the IFoA regarding exams, provided much comfort.

What do you enjoy most about being an actuary?

Thanks to my early professional experience in global employee benefits, I can say that working as an actuary often involves interesting and complex work that may have a profound impact on the lives of many people. I like being able to contribute to people’s lives while doing a job I am deeply passionate about.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

I would like to be contributing to the insurance sector of a developing country where the market is still underdeveloped in terms of product availability, access and affordability.

What is your most actuarial habit?

Always considering various scenarios, especially the worst-case scenario, when making important decisions – either from a professional or personal perspective.

Name one skill (aside from technical) that is an important quality for an actuary.

People skills, because we are ultimately in the business of delivering results to our clients, who are human beings.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Co-founding a business in the hospitality industry during the pandemic.

Who is your role model – in life or in business?

Robert Kiyosaki, the author of the best-selling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I appreciate his quote: “In school we learn that mistakes are bad, and we are punished for making them. Yet, if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes. We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk” – which is much like the three stages of the actuarial control cycle.

Give one piece of advice to the next generation of students entering the profession?

Do not be afraid to disrupt the status quo, as we are living in unprecedented times with new challenges on a global scale, and we will need innovative ideas, new technology and new skills.

How do you relax in your spare time?

I enjoy sport fishing on weekends.

Now that you have qualified… what next?

Accumulating professional experience in various geographical locations and industries.