ASM Leadership Talk 2021 – Tips for Senior Actuaries

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The ASM Leadership Talk Series 2021


I was very pleased but not surprised by the good turnout at the ASM Leadership Talk Series 2021

The talk covered topics like transitions, middle-age crises, burnouts and stagnations, and stages of life. The talk was designed for senior actuaries and clearly, these are issues many of us face. Some 300 senior actuaries from mainly Asia attended this talk.

I spoke about the importance of self-awareness and knowing oneself, being clear about one’s purpose, mindfulness and personal brand. To bring these tips to life, I used the most serious crises I have encountered as contexts.

•At age 32 – Job insecurity when members of Prudential Singapore’s agency force sought my resignation.
•At age 34 – The breakdown of my marital relationship soon after I became CEO.
•At age 40 – Middle-age crisis and sense of stagnation leading to my sabbatical at Columbia University and the world of psychology.
•At age 49 – Public conflict with the ex-CEO of NTUC Income on the bonus policy of Income’s with-profits funds.
•At age 59 – Sense of desolation in the months leading up to my 60th birthday.  Ironically, this happened soon after I was elected President-Elect by the Council of the IFoA.


I am glad to say all these crises were followed by reflection, recovery, and re-imagination.

The most enjoyable part of the talk was when the participants also contributed. It was really wonderful to hear from three senior and successful actuaries.

Patrick Poon spoke with clarity on the importance of sacrifice and giving, “the more you give the more you gain”.

Zainal Kassim spoke about with sincerity and conviction on the importance of finding and knowing one’s purpose throughout life.

Azim Mithani spoke with passion about the social purpose and value of insurance.