Marjorie Ngwenya Actuary

Marjorie Ngwenya

High School: Chisipite Senior School

Tertiary Education: Institute of Actuaries

Qualifications: Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, Associate of Taxation Technicians

Family Status: Married

Lives In: London

Company / Organisation Name: Mazars

Title / Position: Director

Duration of time within your company / organisation: 2 years

Professional Membership held: Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and Associate of Taxation Technicians

Previous positions held: Head of Risk and Governance at Acorn Fund Management, Senior Risk Actuary at Swiss Re, Manager at Deloitte, Business Development Manager at GenRe

What are your main achievements / successes in the category you are being nominated for :

Being an inspiration to young professionals who may have suffered hardship during their careers: When I first returned to the UK, I was pursuing a BSc in actuarial science at the LSE when financial difficulties meant I had to leave university. I subsequently began working and qualified as an actuary through this route. This early entry into the working world gave me a career headstart and has meant that my professional achievements have been achieved through hard work and potentially earlier than if I had continued through the university route. I am honoured to be an inspiration and role model to some to show that perserverance really does pay off.

What makes you most proud about your business / organisation:

Our belief in our values which are Integrity, Responsibility, Respect, Continuity, Independence and Diversity. We live by them and adhere to them in all we do with clients and with each other. We are a truly international and culturally diverse firm. We believe in the concept of stewardship – that we must leave the firm in a better state than when we joined. I find this inspiring!

Community Involvement:

I am a board member for the Legal Assistance Trust representing the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa. I am an active volunteer for the actuarial profession and have a number of volunteer roles including examining students. I have volunteered to teach abroad at universities in Kenya and Armenia and found the experiences very fulfilling.
I am frequently approached to provide career advice to young actuaries, particularly those of African heritage as they identify with my background.
I am on the PR Committee of the Worshipful Company of Actuaries which has charitable aims.
Directorship / Leadership positions:

Editor of the Actuary magazine since 2009.
A member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries Council.
Board member for the Legal Assistance Trust.
Recent Awards: The South African Power 100 accolade

Favourite Business Quote: ”Don’t let your ego get too close to your position, so that if your position gets shot down, your ego doesn’t go with it” – Colin Powell

Mentor: I draw on the expertise of many of my fellow professionals who inspire me. I find this gives me a balanced and varied view of the world.

JUST how bright do you have to be to be an actuary?
Bright enough to be competent at mathematics subjects but more so you need diligence to make your way through the professional exams. They can be daunting.

Your education took an unconventional path, tell us about it.
I started off university at LSE but due to currency problems in Zimbabwe, I had to leave in my first year and didn’t go back. Once my actuarial career had progressed there didn’t seem to be value in returning to my original BSc Actuarial Science degree but I may one day go and do a language degree to indulge a whim.

When building a CV how important is it to have worked in a few companies?
I don’t think it’s imperative but demonstrating a range of skills and a degree of progression would be more important to me.

Where would you see yourself professionally in ten years?
Having grown and advanced in my career. I haven’t defined the path necessarily.

Do actuaries have an insider sense of humour that only they understand?
Ha ha, from time to time. If I told you my favourite actuarial joke you’d think so!

Yes? ‘e to the x’ walks into a bar. The barman says I’m sorry we don’t cater for functions here.

After last week’s £1.2 billion ‘rogue trader’ fiasco, the world is baying for risk management blood. Can a bank insure against such a loss?
My background is in life insurance so I’m sure that my non-life colleagues would be better informed. To my knowledge you can insure through directors’ and officers’ cover but in reality that kind of protection comes at a great cost which is passed on to the consumer at some point and it’s unlikely to cover the full extent of losses of that magnitude. We need better risk management frameworks and more honest individuals it appears!

How can you really balance risk management and the raw avarice it takes to fuel the banking system?
With difficulty. There should be separation of the activities which have conflicting objectives. Risk managers should be objective and unbiased; so the upside that traders stand to benefit from should not motivate them.

You’re from Zimbabwe and there must have been lessons learned by economists from Zimbabwe that had never been experienced in the world before. What’s your (honest) prognosis for the future economic health of Zim?
Zim economists could probably write (retrospective) theses on how to manage hyper-inflation! They dealt with situations not so commonly observed in today’s markets and hopefully behind us now. I am positive about Zimbabwe’s recovery. I was lucky enough to make it over for a visit recently and I continue to be encouraged by its development and progress.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Definitely travel. I’m always on the go and love discovering new parts of the world.

Personality quirks?
I hate fuss, and ironically I’ll go to great lengths to avoid it.

Unusual habits?
Doing unnecessary arithmetic in my head – just to keep checking if the brain cells are still up to it.

Famous relative?
A few relatives in the political space but none that I would call famous. People ask me if I’m related to Takudzwa Ngwenya who plays rugby (very well) for the USA. Not that I’m aware of.

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