The value of volunteering
Many employers support members in taking on IFoA volunteer roles – with their own interests in mind.
Volunteering for your professional body isn’t just about giving something back - it’s also an opportunity for personal and professional development, if you pick the right role. And frequently it is recognised as such by employers.
Alastair Clarkson, now Head of Strategic Shareholdings at Standard Life Aberdeen plc, has volunteered for the IFoA for over 15 years with both his current and previous employer.
“Both employers were fully supportive of this,” he said, “supporting my attendance during office hours and enabling me to travel.
“They knew that I would ensure that I still delivered what was required in my job and that these roles would help me do that.”
Alastair says that supporting him in volunteering was never questioned because the relevance to his role was apparent.
“A lot of my work on the Life Supervision Committee, Life Research Committee and Life Practice Board had direct relevance to my work, whether through drafting guidance notes or responding to regulatory consultations.
“Those committees also gave me insight into policy direction."
Building networks and gaining insights
Through a variety of volunteer roles, including examiner, chair of the Life Practice Board and member of Council, Alastair built a large network of contacts across the industry.
“I used the contacts I made through my IFoA volunteering to give me an external viewpoint that helped with my day job.
“Volunteering also helped me keep up to speed with current thinking on regulatory developments.”
Karen Brolly, life consultant at Hymans Robertson LLP, who has volunteered since 2012, agrees: “I find it really valuable to have this opportunity to meet people from lots of different organisations and backgrounds.
“There is a big overlap with my day job as a consultant and it helps me to understand what is going on in the market.
“From discussing actuarial topics with other volunteers, I have gained a much more rounded actuarial perspective.”
Developing professional skills
Karen, who is just back from the IFoA Life Conference in Dublin, currently sits on the Life Practice Board and is looking to hone her chairing skills with a view to leading the board in the future.
“In between board meetings, I get involved in additional responsibilities such as peer reviewing working party reports and I take on roles such as chairing CILA (Current Issues in Life Assurance) an annual event.”
Alastair also used volunteering to develop this essential skill for leaders.
“It was some of the best hands-on training I have ever had in terms of how to chair a meeting effectively.
“I have also encouraged staff under me to volunteer and even given them professional development goals around this, focused primarily around networking.”
IFoA Fellow, Kudzai Chigiji, a self-employed healthcare and banking actuary, originally from Zimbabwe and currently based in South Africa, sits on the IFoA Finance and Investment Practice Board.
Kudzai has volunteered with various organisations in the actuarial profession since 2011, starting in ASSA, then the IAA and now within the IFoA.
“I was in the UK for a while, studying at the University of Oxford,” she said. “During that time, I joined the Social Impact Investing Working Party as impact investing and impact insurance are areas I am interested in and am hoping to venture into in the next stage of my career.
“Volunteering with actuarial associations, especially the IFoA, has helped me to build credibility and trust amongst my peers within the profession and led me to this point within my career.
“It has helped to boost my self-confidence, as volunteering requires working with a wide range of individuals across many levels of seniority – exposure which may otherwise not have come about so easily.”
Kudzai says that having volunteer roles on her CV also proved beneficial when she was employed by a large corporate. “One of my previous bosses mentioned that my involvement in actuarial member associations was useful in positioning me as a role model in the organisation.”
Directory of Opportunities
The IFoA Directory of Opportunities provides an overview of our governance structure and highlights the many ways you can get involved. The directory is a helpful resource for existing volunteers, members, and others, interested in volunteering. View the Directory of Opportunities to find out more. Alternatively contact Debbie Atkins, Head of Engagement, to discuss the type of role that may be of interest to you.