Month: January 2019

7 things to know about the MSc in Actuarial Management

1. Un-learning

This might seem counter-intuitive given that our primary purpose this year is, essentially, to learn. However, unlearning in our course underpins our study practices, presentation methods and even our exam techniques. Most of us here have already done Core Technical actuarial exams that require a certain level of mathematical and analytical ability. While this is still important as it gives us a necessary foundation for this course, there are no numbers now. Lectures, instead, are discussion-based and require a lot of idea-generation and creative thinking (within reason, of course). This has required us to utilise a completely different skillset than the one we used before. That has taken a lot of re-training, both of our minds and habits, while preparing for exams and for life after Cass.

2. Learning to take failure graciously

Of course, the transition mentioned above has not been seamless, but the worst thing you can let failure do to you is make you afraid to keep trying. Case in point: Professional Communications. The only thing I will say about this module is that if (i.e. when) you don’t succeed the first time, don’t worry, you’re in good company. Just keep trying.

3. Embracing diversity

Actuarial Science is a global career in every sense. Our class is filled with people from all over the world. This is exciting in that our course is a melting pot of different ages, cultures, perspectives and personalities. This, when handled with respect, is a perfect recipe for success.

4. Networking and refining your soft-skills

Networking and socialising have been essential parts of my experience at Cass. During induction, we were given the chance to meet our fellow classmates in a relaxed environment at the Magic Roundabout, which was a great way to start the term. There have also been more professional workshops with industry professionals like the Actuarial Panel Event. These events – organised by the Careers Team – have given us access to the actuarial market in London, which has proved invaluable.

5. AIR-Q Society

The newly-refurbished Actuarial, Insurance, Risk and Quants Society is another way we’ve been able to interact and share ideas. There are also events in the future to look forward to that involve industry-players’ participation that provide another insight into life post-MSc.

6. Self-imposed down-time

This course requires you to start making decisions right from the start; what Specialist Technical exams to sit for, when to sit for these exams to maximise the probability of success, whether to take your chances with Professional Communications, how to structure your day to maximise studying time, whether to take your second nap of the day… The list is endless. It is very easy to get overwhelmed. I’ve found that taking time for things like dance classes at City, going to concerts, going to food markets and even simply going for walks makes life seem less daunting.

7. If you need the nap, take the nap…

Sanau,

Actuarial management (2019)

An Investment in Knowledge

I decided to study the MSc in Management at Cass because of its practical focus, prestige and international standing. I tried to take a very proactive role at Cass and ran as one of the class representatives of the MSc in Management cohort. Thanks  to this role, I built relationships with almost all my peers and tried to find ways to improve our experience at Cass. Before joining Cass, my career goals were to secure a full time job in London. My initial areas of interest were management consulting and FMCG, but most importantly finding a job that was dynamic, where I could always learn, with fast career progression and strong values.

On a professional level, I attended seven one-to-one appointments with career coaches, which helped my career and recruitment preparation. I also attended five professional development workshops with various focuses, from CVs and covering letters to preparing for assessment centres and behavioural questions. These seminars were vital for my application process, especially the two employer presentations – both had line-ups of great guests, like current employees and HR reps, who gave me  practical advice about the recruitment processes of their particular companies. I also attended many of the events hosted by the Cass Consultancy Society, such as seminars and panel sessions with top experts in consulting firms an opportunity to network with many employees.

A key piece of advice I have regarding the recruitment process is to start early (around September/October) and be well-informed. I am an international student and, for this reason, finding a job was more challenging for me as I need sponsorship to work in the UK. After applying for many jobs and doing several interviews, I also realised the importance of networking and of forging professional relationships. A referral from an existing employee significantly adds to  your application. It is very important to practise as much as possible, to be comfortable with yourself and to be able to play to your strengths.

Overall, my experience at Cass was very enriching. I had the unique opportunity to meet people of various nationalities which allowed me to understand cultural dynamics and diverse approaches to doing business. I also enjoyed very much working with my study group as we all come from different backgrounds and brought new perspectives, making our work more comprehensive. Another thing I liked about my studies was its practical implementation, like for instance the consulting and strategy seminar working with Bain that simulated a real-life business scenario. And then, on a personal level, the trip to Florence was incredible as we explored one of Italy’s most iconic cities as a cohort, which made many nice memories. It was very nice to get to know my peers more in detail and in a different setting. This trip definitely created stronger bonds between us.  I really look forward to our reunion at the graduation ceremony so we may celebrate our achievements together.

After my master’s at Cass, I am joining Gerson Lehrman Group in their London office as a client solutions analyst in their two-year graduate programme. I am really looking forward to joining GLG as it is the world’s largest membership network for one-on-one professional learning.

Valentina Delgado Buitron
MSc Management, 2018

 

 

The positive pitfalls of group work

 

One important thing I’ve learnt from studying Marketing Strategy and Innovation at Cass is that there is really nothing quite like teamwork. Working in a group is by no means an easy feat, but it is an incredibly rewarding one nonetheless. There are multiple factors to consider, such as individual weaknesses and strengths, meeting times, goals and deadlines.

To give a brief overview of the first term, we have five modules to get through: ‘Marketing Fundamentals’, ‘Marketing Strategy and Practice’, ‘Creativity. Innovation. Design’, ‘Essentials of Accounting and Finance’ and ‘Market Research’. The majority of our work has been group assignments. For instance, in the second module, we have to participate in a business simulation for which you have to imagine that your team have been recruited as Marketing Managers for a division of a large diversified firm. For this project, our group sat down and discussed our goals for the coming months. We aimed for a distinction grade by Christmas and decided to meet twice a week to discuss our workload. Little did we know by week two of term that this idea would result in us meeting five days a week, to such an extent that I was considering bringing a sleeping bag and a flask of tea! Having said that, every group works differently, but for us we excelled by working together in a study room as opposed to working individually.

As the weeks continued and the workload became more intense, I began to notice my own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of my fellow teammates. What I can honestly advise everyone to do is to discuss these factors before you begin your work. I have observed two ‘positive pitfalls’ that groups can encounter and how they should be tackled:

  1. There should be no shame in discussing what you aren’t good at. Many times I have found that in groups it is easier to brush your weaknesses under the carpet. But if you see someone struggling in your group, you need to discuss it. In my group, we noticed an issue that had the potential of affecting our group work in the future, so we sat down straight away and confronted the issue head on and the result was incredibly positive.
  2. It is always important to treat problems and group members with a level of professionalism and respect. The only way to improve is to discuss it together as a team. A group assignment should be no different to that of a professional workspace. We are all here to work hard and perform well, so if you see an anchor weighing down your performance, you will naturally try to reel it in. However, it’s the way in which you do this that can be make or break for a group.

Approaching Term 2, I look back at the highs and lows of our teamwork. For the most part they have been positive, but the challenges we faced should also be viewed in a positive light. Our team adapted to these issues and we ended up achieving our aims. At the end of the day, a master’s degree is there to push you beyond your undergraduate skillset. I’m incredibly grateful for this experience as I have learnt a lot about myself and teamworking.

Nicholas McCarthy,

MSc in Marketing Strategy and Innovation (2019) 

* Nicholas McCarthy is a student ambassador. Should you have any queries about your course, please contact him via the Ask a Student page:  https://bit.ly/2FxozAO

Choosing Cass was a wise decision

Before I arrived at Cass, I asked myself ‘Is this the right choice?’

After I arrived at Cass to study the MSc in Actuarial Science, I realised that I’d made a wise decision.

During my undergraduate studies at Queen’s University in Canada, I became interested in the actuarial profession. That’s when I first started to consider pursuing a master’s degree in Actuarial Science. I wanted to complete my master’s in a different location, somewhere full of opportunities and challenges, so I chose the UK.

I was lucky enough to get in touch with a Cass alumnus before applying. He told me a lot about this place. He shared his experience with me and he told me that Cass is not just a place to study, it is also a platform for you to explore and to connect with like-minded people. He also said that even though the one-year programme is demanding and tough, it is the most rewarding and memorable experience he has had.

About the MSc in Actuarial Science

The MSc in Actuarial Science at Cass is a one-year programme. All the modules offered are structured and graded based on the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) requirements. This means that you will not only receive your degree, but also some CT1 to CT8 exemptions upon graduation if you meet the grade threshold. All the course instructors at Cass have years of vocational experience. For example, one of the module instructors has over 20-years working experience in pension funds. Instead of just giving us theoretical concepts from the textbook, he gave us real-life examples to help us fully understand the concepts. As a student without much experience in the workplace, such insights are extremely valuable.

Social events

The master’s programme is demanding and intense, but that does not necessarily mean you won’t have time for social events. In fact, Cass helps students succeed in their academic life and career. A variety of workshops are running each week to help you to prepare your CV and cover letter for job hunting. One-to-one interviews are also available to book if you have any specific concerns.

I attended the majority of the workshops and I found that they are of great significance. One point I really want to emphasise is that all career advisers in the Cass Career Team have years of experience as Human Resource managers or recruiters, which means they know exactly what companies are looking for and they can teach you how to match your abilities with the roles you apply for, eventually making you stand out from the other applicants to secure a job offer.

What’s more, Cass also holds different panel events to provide a platform for current students to connect with alumni. For example, by holding the actuarial science panel event, I got the opportunities to talk to senior directors from an insurance company and gained insights about the current UK markets. By engaging in conversations and asking questions, I understood more and gained greater knowledge about the insurance market in the UK than I could ever have learnt from a textbook or newspaper. By listening to their personal stories, I learnt techniques and skills that I can apply to my day-to-day study and work.

Having the opportunity to study at Cass makes it possible to meet and connect with people from all over the world. Listening to their stories, learning about their languages and cultures has enriched my business school experience.

Yue Yin

MSc Actuarial Science (2019)

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