In this blog post, we spoke to Gaik Ng, Senior Lecturer in Actuarial Science at the School of Maths. She discussed her consultancy work before switching to academia and joining Queen Mary University of London. She also explained how her teaching practice has benefitted from her industry experience as an actuary.
How long have you been teaching at Queen Mary?
It has been nearly one and a half year now – how time flies! Before joining the academia, I was an actuary at the consultancy which was Watson Wyatt when I first joined and is now Willis Towers Watson. I also hold an MA from the University of Cambridge.
What do you enjoy most about working at the School of Maths?
The amazing colleagues here – everyone is very supportive and there is a strong collaborative culture; of course, there is also a fantastic passion for learning that students here show.
When and how did you realise you wanted to be a lecturer?
As an actuary at the consultancy above, amongst others, I delivered client training. I also did guest lectures at a university near where I worked. So I was always involved in teaching-related activities in one way or another and have enjoyed them very much. While I enjoyed consultancy work, I realised being a lecturer would allow me to spend more time on teaching so about seven, eight years ago, I switched to academia. My industry experience and continuous links with the actuarial profession have hugely informed my teaching practice and my placement-related roles in universities since then. The whole experience has been hugely rewarding.
You are also the Placements Academic Lead of the School of Mathematical Sciences – what does the role entail?
The School recently launched the placement year option for most of its undergraduate programmes: This is where students enter paid employment for a year between their second and final year. Depending on the employer (and students’ performance), at the end of a placement year, the employer may offer a graduate job for the students to come back to upon graduation. The Placements Academic Lead role entails working with different stakeholders (employers, students, Careers & Enterprise, SMT) all with the aims of maximising the chances of students securing a placement and completing the placement year successfully. This includes visiting students out on placements and their employers, one-to-ones with students, etc.
Any advice to students wanting to study Mathematics and Actuarial Sciences?
If you have chosen to study actuarial science at Queen Mary, you have already made the right decision. The next step is to make the most of your time with Queen Mary by engaging with modules/lecturers – getting good grades means you graduate with exemptions which give you a head start in terms of qualifying as an actuary. It is also very important to make use of Queen Mary's employability resources and securing some form of work experience – the actuarial programme here has a very strong focus on employability, an aspect which is recognised by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA – the professional body for actuaries in the UK) itself in its latest reports about us. In addition, make the most of all the resources that help to enrich your university life (e.g. extra-curricular activities) – of course, you should choose something you are passionate about!
Interested in a career in Actuarial Science? Find out more about our programme at the School of Maths.