Actuaries Institute names Jennifer Lang Actuary of the Year 2020

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Jennifer Lang

The Actuaries Institute has named Jennifer Lang 2020 Actuary of the Year.

Ms Lang’s role this year, in leading the Actuaries Institute’s COVID-19 response, has been recognised as a major contribution to the profession and the communities in which actuaries work.

The Institute’s COVID-19 Working Group brought together more than 80 actuaries, as volunteers, who assessed the potential impacts of the pandemic on the profession, public policy, business and the community. A Pandemic Resource Centre was established to help actuaries support their companies manage and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

“The work of the COVID-19 group, under Jennifer’s leadership, is making a significant contribution,” said Actuaries Institute Chief Executive Elayne Grace.

“The group has provided strong guidance to the profession in unprecedented times, across a very broad range of practice areas. It has resulted in 17 pandemic briefings and more than 70 articles.”

Institute President Hoa Bui said Ms Lang’s work highlights the relevance of actuarial skills to policymaking and real-time, national events. “Jennifer’s ability to bring rigor with her actuarial skill set to looking at issues around COVID-19 particularly stood out,” Ms Bui said. “She is able to guide the Working Group, to bring data to the table to solve problems that hamper communities, business and policymakers in very different ways. That thinking helps lead change.”

Ms Lang has worked in the United Kingdom and Australia, in insurance and as a Chief Actuary, CFO, and as a consultant. She has also been noted for her a role as a mentor to younger actuaries, and for her blog, Actuarial Eye.

She inspired the establishment of the Actuaries Institute’s Hackathon program, now in its third year, which invites not-for-profits to bring their problems to actuaries – in particular, younger actuaries – who volunteer to help find solutions. The Hackathon has worked for a wide range of NFPs including the Cancer Council, the Benevolent Society and the Prisoner Fellowship Group.

“It was great to be involved with young actuaries,” Ms Lang said. “But all actuaries generally, come into their work with a notion that they want to help people and solve problems within society widely. This award, which I am delighted to accept, also reflects the work we have done in the COVID-19 group.

“As a profession, actuaries bring to bear skills in scenario testing, modelling out to the future, and statistical and financial insights. We have skills in long-term projection, and we explain risks and uncertainties to Boards and senior managers.

“As a group, we spent a lot of time this year helping members and the community make sense of the pandemic and the economic crisis that has followed. We bring data-driven thinking; we follow evidence to help determine a course of action.”

Ms Lang is also a member of the Actuaries Institute’s Climate Change Working Group. She drove the development of an Information Note for Appointed Actuaries working in life, general and health insurance to help them consider climate-related risks in their work.

Climate change is an area where actuaries have increasing influence, and where young actuaries are taking their skills to help solve complex problems. The Actuaries Institute developed the Australian Actuaries Climate Index, which tracks the prevalence of extreme weather conditions and changes to sea level across Australia.

Ms Bui said that the Actuary of the Year is a prestigious award presented to a member of the Actuaries Institute who has made a notable contribution to the community and has brought credit to the profession.

“Jennifer is a most worthy recipient of the Actuary of the Year award, we all congratulate Jennifer and thank her for her valuable contribution to the profession,” Ms Bui said.

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