Actuaries from South-East Asia: Ishaan Wadhwa

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

As part of our global series, we caught up with Ishaan Wadhwa, based in Cambodia, to find out more about his journey to becoming an actuary.


Why did you decide to join the actuarial profession?

With my background in mathematics/statistics (majored in statistics at university), I wanted to pursue something related to applied mathematics/statistics which would be intellectually stimulating, global in nature, financially rewarding and at the same time potentially beneficial to society at large. Actuarial Science fit all the above criteria and here I am!

I never realized that ‘probabilities’ could fetch so much to me.


What do you enjoy in your role?

Insurance industry in Cambodia is still in the nascent stage with the first Life Insurer starting operations in 2012-13. The slate is quite raw and waiting to be written on. This has given me the space and time to innovate. My current role spans a variety of areas- Shareholder/Regulatory Reporting, Business Planning, Solvency and Capital Management, Modeling, Reinsurance, Experience Analysis and bits and pieces of Financial Risk Management. All these together have given me a more composite feel of the business. I love the fact that I can dabble in different boats at the same time and drive things the way I want to. 

Given the shortage of actuarial resources in Cambodia, a lot of time is spent in upskilling the local workforce. Grooming the local talent, not only in terms of technical skills but also soft skills has been very rewarding for me personally as I discovered many facets about myself!

Another aspect of my role which I really like is that I get to work in a multi-cultural environment, yet with a common goal. I can clearly see how diversity makes a difference. People with different backgrounds bring different perspectives to the table which eventually benefit organisations and employees in the long run.


What are the highlights in your career?

  • My first Managerial Role leading a team of experienced partly qualified actuaries- Things stopped being about me only.
  • Managing the pricing of the cheapest online term product in India at the time (c.2016-17).
  • Moving to Cambodia; This has been an eye opener for me professionally and personally.
  • Actuarial Exams wise; Passing 3 exams in one diet in my first attempt at actuarial exams!


What advice would you give to students who are just about to embark on their career as an actuary?

This profession is quite vast and dynamic. The fastest way to learn is to be curious about the world around you. Apart from the initial bout of curiosity, this profession demands that you follow up with that curiosity and not give up unless you have found all the answers. The ‘following up’ bit requires hard work and dedication, or in other words perseverance. If you possess these traits or if you cultivate these traits, success awaits you with exams and work. Apart from technical upskilling, students should also spend time on developing their soft skills as communicating the actuarial/technical results appropriately is where the whole actuarial work comes to fruition.

Another important aspect is time management.

You need to manage time to study whilst being in a full-time job. You need to manage time to fully write an exam. You need to manage time to ensure a healthy social and personal life. You need to manage time to take time off as well and not burn out! They are all important.

This is a demanding profession, but the rewards are exemplary.

Things are never static, you get to work and learn from the sharpest minds, you are well remunerated largely, there is global mobility as probabilities are calculated in the same way universally, whether in Iceland or South Africa, the skill-set acquired can be applied in any business as all businesses face risks.  If you wish, you can contribute significantly in the not-for-profit segment as well.


Any motivational quotes? 

The human mind has enormous capabilities. You just need to train it right.


All of the above views are personal.

Find out more about Becoming an Actuary and our work in South East Asia on our website.