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Inside story: Kudzai Chigiji

Published on: 6 Jul 2022

Kudzai ChigijWhere are you based?

I live between the UK and South Africa.

What volunteer role(s) do you do for the IFoA?

I am a member of the Finance and Investment (F&I) Board and IFoA Council.

How long have you been volunteering?

More than 12 years.

What’s involved in your role(s)?

On the F&I Board I oversee the banking portfolio, but I will be expanding this to include a new domain. My Council term will look at new practice areas.

What motivates you to volunteer for the IFoA?

Giving back and developing as a person.  

What have you/do you hope to achieve in your volunteer role?

I look for roles that will allow me to develop projects that move the needle. Whether it is researching a new domain, introducing new education material or holding space for other young actuaries to step up, I need to see tangible results that challenge the status quo.

What new skills or knowledge do you think you have developed?

It’s a great opportunity to develop interpersonal skills, and running a long-term project requires leadership skills. You have to craft a vision, motivate people, recruit other volunteers, delegate tasks and keep the ball rolling.

I have also learnt a lot about governance, which encouraged me to enrol in a formal governance programme.

Do you think volunteering has helped you in your day job?

The project management, leadership, communication and governance skills that you need to be an effective volunteer are the skills you need in many management and executive positions. Additionally, your colleagues are from a range of companies, at the top of their field. Volunteering is a safe space in which to share perspectives and co-create.

It also gives you greater credibility. People get to know who you are and how you work. It has helped me to create a more international career and a brand.

How do you balance your day job and your volunteer role?

I take my volunteer roles as seriously as my ‘day jobs’. Earlier in my career, I dedicated evenings and weekends to work, and even used annual leave to attend conferences and meetings. I made it clear to colleagues that my commitments were good for business.

How do you relax away from the office?

I’m a voracious reader, I travel a lot, and I find cooking and cleaning relaxing.

What would you say to others considering a volunteer role?

Sign up and then really do it. Attending meetings is not volunteering. Be known for something other than a title. People will remember what you delivered and how you did it, so do it with grace and enthusiasm. You might find that volunteering within the profession is not for you, but there is probably another community where you will enjoy it and make a valuable contribution.

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

No individual, but I admire black women who have built businesses from scratch.

What was your earliest dream job?

Unofficially: making films or music.
Officially: neurosurgeon.

If you were locked in a famous building for one night...which would it be and why?

I would prefer to spend the night under the stars in the Namib desert.

What would you consider to be the most brilliant moment of your career to date?

I was in a meeting with a group of execs and they asked for an estimate of the customer base we could reach with a potential joint venture. They had a number in mind; I immediately threw out a much smaller one, gave the logic I had used, and was asked how I had calculated it so quickly. Two weeks later, they had the ‘correct’ number: it was 0.05% off the percentage I had blurted out. 

To share your volunteer involvement or find out about volunteering for the IFoA, contact:

Kudzai Chigiji - Tech start-ups and early-stage investments; previously in healthcare and banking.